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The Medicinal Herb Garden: Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

May 30, 2013

The Medicinal Herb Garden

by Stephanie Ross, Director of the Complementary and Integrative Therapies Program, Health Sciences Department

Professor Stephanie Ross developed a list of medicinal herbs that served as the inspiration for artist Ben Volta’s mural design for 11th Street Family Health Services’ participation in the Mural Arts Program’s Porch Light Program. “I spoke with Ben before I developed the botanical medicine list because I wanted to maintain the integrity of plants that were indigenous to this area,” Ross said. Under the artist’s direction, 11th Street community members traced photographs of the medicinal herbs that Volta then added into the mural.

This summer, while progress on painting the mural at 11th Street Family Health Services continues, Stephanie Ross will share her knowledge on several of the plants that made their way into the artwork.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

chamomileGerman Chamomile enjoys a rich history of medicinal use, which transcends both reality and imagination. The name itself is derived from the Greek words chamos (ground) and melos (apple), referring to its low-growing habit and the warm apple scent of its fresh blossoms.

Chamomile is used extensively on nearly every continent for the treatment of a wide range of conditions, namely, stomach upset, ulcers to inflamed skin and mucous membranes, and mild nervous conditions. Because of its widespread acceptance as an effective medicinal agent, chamomile is presently listed as an official drug in the pharmacopoeias of 26 countries, including Germany, Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom.

The active constituents found in chamomile include levomenol (α-bisabolol), which renders its potent anti-inflammatory action, promotes granulation and epithialization, and contributes to its antibacterial, antifungal, and antispasmodic properties. The primary uses indicated for internal applications of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) include spasms and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, indigestion and bloating. For external applications, German chamomile is used for treatment of inflammatory skin conditions (eczema), minor cuts, and anogenital inflammation (baths).