All this talk of chamomile has left me thinking about how, and for whom, I use this versatile herb, which is first and foremost a herb of childhood. Brigitte wrote of her experiences with chamomile as a child in this post and has just written about some scrummy looking chamomile and lemon balm ice lollies here.
Chamomile has a long tradition of use as a relaxing herb which soothes the nervous system, digestion and smooth muscle throughout the body. It is cooling, calming and helpful in dispelling fevers as well as heat and irritation in the skin. The flowers of both Roman and German Chamomile contain azulene, though German contains much higher quantities resulting in a deep blue coloured essential oil when distilled. This constituent is part of chamomile’s soothing magic, think of the cooling properties of blue against anything that is red, inflamed or hot.
Emotionally and mentally it is also cooling, calming and soothing and it’s particularly associated with irritable, changeable, demanding and whinging behaviour. Matthew Wood, one of my favourite writers on the personality profiles of herbs, describes it as suitable for “babies of any age” and writes, “Whatever the age the behaviour is unmistakable, petulant, self-centred, intolerant of pain or not having their way, inclined to pick quarrels, or adverse to being touched, soothed or spoken to.”
Elizabeth Brooke concurs writing, ” It is very good for either children or adults who have temper tantrums, who express anger which is related to fear and also express the need to protect themselves. It is for people who are prickly, over sensitive and volatile.”
This tendency to reactivity is a key indication for the use of chamomile, although the person will not be like this all the time. Dr Bach, creator of the first flower remedies, used to advise observing the behaviour of a person in illness to determine which remedy was appropriate. So the Chamomile type is likely to be irritable, moody and demanding in sickness, though in health they are often as sunny, generous and radiant as the bright yellow and white flowers themselves.
I have also observed another indication for chamomile, in treating adults who have unresolved issues from childhood. There is much talk in therapeutic circles of ‘healing the inner child’ and chamomile helps us do just that, letting us return to a more innocent and open hearted view of childhood and releasing any issues we may still be carrying. It works particularly well in small doses or as a flower remedy for this purpose.
A pregnant friend of mine who had a very difficult childhood found herself only able to eat food she hadn’t eaten since a very young age, such as sugar-coated cornflakes, and felt drawn to chamomile tea, which she didn’t normally like. It seemed as though she had to go back to an, as yet, unhealed time in her past to be able to move on with her own children in a healthy and balanced way.
A herbalist friend of mine also told me of her teacher who used small doses of chamomile to heal difficult emotions which stemmed from childhood and had proved difficult to shift.
I find that so many of us, living in these challenging times, need to regain some of the joy and mystery we felt as children, and perhaps chamomile could be just the plant to help us do that. When speaking of the personality profile of the essential oil Valerie Ann Worwood says that Chamomiles are always in touch with their spiritual side. As children we are effortlessly aware of the spiritual side of our beings as we freely express ourselves without fear of misunderstanding or ridicule and having not yet been conditioned into any rigid ways of thinking.
To me, chamomile is a powerful healer for the child in us all, whether she secretly wants to stamp her feet and pout whilst proclaiming, ‘but its not faaaaiiir’, or just needs to connect to a purer and less tarnished view of this funny old world.
I’d love to hear anyone else’s experiences or thoughts on the mental and emotional uses of chamomile so do please share them in the comments.
With love to all on this bright spring day.