Chamomile





No Simple in the whole catalogue of herbal medicines is possessed

of a quality more friendly and beneficial to the intestines than

Chamomile flowers. This herb was well known to the Greeks,

who thought it had an odour like that of apples, and therefore they

named it Earth Apple, from two of their words, kamai--on the

ground, and melon--an apple. The Spaniards call it Manzanilla,

from a little apple, and they give the same name to one of

their lightest sherries flavoured with this plant. The flowers,

or blows of the Chamomile belong to the daisy genus, having an

outer fringe of white ray florets, with a central yellow disk, in

which lies the chief medicinal virtue of the plant. In the cultivated

Chamomile the white petals increase, while the yellow centre

diminishes; thus it is that the curative properties of the wild

Chamomile are the more powerful. The true Chamomile is to be

distinguished from the bitter Chamomile (matricaria chamomilla)

which has weaker properties, and grows erect, with several

flowers at a level on the same stalk. The true Chamomile

grows prostrate, and produces but [85] one flower (with a convex,

not conical, yellow disk) from each stem, whilst its leaves are

divided into hair-like segments. The flowers exhale a powerful

aromatic smell, and present a peculiar bitter to the taste. When

distilled with water they yield a small quantity of most useful

essential oil, which, if fresh and good, is always of a bluish colour.

It should be green or blue, and not faded to yellow. This oil is a

mixture of ethers, among which chamomilline, or the valerianate

of butyl, predominates. Medicinally it serves to lower nervous

excitability reflected from some organ in trouble, but remote from

the part where the pain is actually felt; so it is very useful for

such spasmodic coughs as are due to indigestion; also for distal

neuralgia, pains in the head or limbs from the same cause, and for

nervous colic bowels. The oil may be given in doses of from two

to four drops on a lump of sugar, or in a dessert-spoonful of milk.

An officinal tincture (Tinctura anthemidis) is made from the

flowers of the true Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) with rectified

spirit of wine. The dose of this is from three to ten drops with a

spoonful of water. It serves usefully to correct the summer

diarrhoea of children, or that which occurs during teething, when

the stools are green, slimy and particoloured. The true Chamomile,

the bitter Chamomile, and the Feverfew, are most obnoxious to

flies and mosquitoes. An infusion of their respective leaves in

spirit will, if used as a wash to the face, arms, or any exposed part

of the body, protect effectually from all attack by these petty foes,

which are quaintly described in an old version of our Bible as the

pestilence that walketh in the darkness, and the bug that destroyeth

at noonday. Chamomile tea is an excellent stomachic when taken

in moderate doses of half-a-teacupful at a [86] time. It should be

made by pouring half-a-pint of boiling water on half-an-ounce of

the dried flower heads, and letting this stand for fifteen minutes, A

special tincture (H.) of Chammomilla is made from the bitter

Chamomile (Matricaria), which, when given in small doses of

three or four drops in a dessertspoonful of cold water every hour,

will signally relieve severe neuralgic pains, particularly if they are

aggravated at night. Likewise this remedy will quickly cure

restlessness and fretfulness in children from teething, and who

refuse to be soothed save by being carried about.



The name, Matricaria, of the bitter Chamomile is derived from

mater cara, beloved mother, because the herb is dedicated to

St. Anne, the reputed mother of the Virgin Mary, or from matrix,

as meaning the womb. This herb may be known from the true

Chamomile because having a large, yellow, conical disk, and no

scales on the receptacles.



Chamomile tea is also an excellent drink for giving to aged

persons an hour or more before dinner. Francatelli directs that it

should be made thus: Put about thirty flowers into a jug, and pour

a pint of boiling water on them; cover up the tea, and when it has

stood for about ten minutes pour it off from the flowers into

another jug, and sweeten with sugar or honey. A teacupful of this

Chamomile tea, into which is stirred a large dessertspoonful of

moist sugar, with a little grated ginger added, will answer the

purpose now indicated. For outward application, to relieve

inflammatory pains, or congestive neuralgia, hot fomentations

made of the infused Chamomile blows are invaluable. Bags may

be loosely stuffed with the flowers, and steeped well in boiling

water before being applied. But for internal use the infusion and

the extract of the herb are comparatively [87] useless, because

much of the volatile essential oil is dissipated by boiling, or by dry

heat. This oil made into pills with bread crumbs, and given whilst

fasting two hours before a meal, will effectually dispel intestinal

worms. True Chamomile flowers may be known from spurious

ones (of the Feverfew) which have no bracts on the receptacle

when the florets are removed.



It is remarkable that each Chamomile is a plant Physician, as

nothing contributes so much to the health of a garden as a number

of Chamomile herbs dispersed about it. Singularly enough, if

another plant is drooping, and apparently dying, in nine cases out

of ten it will recover if you place a herb of Chamomile near it.



The stinking Chamomile (Anthemis cotula) or Mayweed, grows

in cornfields, having a foetid smell, and often blistering the hand

which gathers it. Another name which it bears is dog's fennel,

because of the disagreeable odour, and the leaf resembling fennel.

Similar uses may be made of it as with the other Chamomiles, but

less effectively. It has solitary flowers with erect stems.



Dr. Schall declares that the Chamomile is not only a preventive of

nightmare, but the sole certain remedy for this complaint. As a

carminative injection for tiresome flatulence, it has been found

eminently beneficial to employ Chamomile flowers boiled in tripe

broth, and strained through a cloth, and with a few drops of the oil

of Aniseed added to the decoction.



Falstaffe says in Henry IV.: Though Chamomile, the more it is

trodden on the faster it grows; yet youth, the more it is wasted the

sooner it wears. For coarse feeders and drunkards Chamomile is

peculiarly suitable. Its infusion will cut short an attack of delirium

tremens in the early stage. Gerard found the oil of the flowers [88]

a remedy against all weariness; and quaint old Culpeper reminds

us that the Egyptians dedicated the Chamomile to the sun because

it cured agues. He slyly adds: They were like enough to do it, for

they were the arrantest apes in their religion I ever read of.





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