Chamomile

Matricaria recutita (German)
Life Cycle: Self-seeding annual Family: Asteraceae

Overview

Description: Chamomile grows two feet tall and is a multi-stemmed light green plant that has lacy leaves. They support brain function and digestion. Flowers bloom in mid-summer and have yellow centers surrounded by white petals.

Parts used

Flowers: has a white daisy-like flowers. Chamomile flowers are known for their pleasing aromatic quality and calming effect on the nerves.

Medicinal Uses

Actions: Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, nervine, analgesic, antispasmodic.

Indications

Calms both the digestive and nervous system as a digestive tonic, anti inflammatory, and anti-anxiety herb. It is a sleep aid, gentle sedative, and overall nerve tonic. Its antiseptic properties are helpful in skin, eye, and mouth washes. Good for toothache, earache, headache, indigestion, and neuralgia. It is used in creams, oils and salves. Add it in cheesecloth to the bath to relax or use it as inhalant over steam bath mist to relieve mucus congestion. As a tea, (2 fl oz/ 56ml) three times a day it lightens the spirit and fosters peace. Tincture is suitable for high strung, hypersensitive individuals.

Dosage

  • Infusion/Tea: Pour a cup of boiling water onto 2 teaspoonfuls of dried leaves and let infuse for 5-10 minutes. (2 fl oz/ 56ml) three times a day. Cover tea while preparing to prevent diffusion of the medicinal strength of the flowers through evaporation
  • Tincture: 2-5ml of 1:4 tincture three times a day
  • Digestive problems – drink after meals
  • Mouthwash – stronger infusion
  • Steam bath 1/2cup of flowers boiled in quarts of water for a steam. Cover head with a towel and inhale the steam.

Safety 

  • Mild and generally safe. Safe enough for children and those in a debilitative state Toxicity is extremely rare. 
  • Occasionally those with severe hay fever have had allergic reactions.
  • Use is cautioned during pregnancy due to potential uterine stimulation

Cultivation

Growing Conditions

  • Grows best in cooler climates.
  • Likes full sun and well drained sandy loam with good fertility and organic matter.
  • Does not compete well with weeds.

Propagation 

Need Spade hand tool 

  1. Start from seeds (direct seed or in plugs).
  2. Plant seeds
    1. Plant seeds about ¼ inch deep
    2. Keep 12 inches between plants
    3. Plant rows 36 inches apart
  3. Cover lightly with potting mixture.
  4. Note planting date in harvest log.
  5. Note expected germination date for planning.
  6. Note transplant date if planted in a greenhouse.
  7. Note anticipated harvest date.  

Planting

Direct Planting 

Broadcast 

  • Prepare the soil with smooth bed, break up all big clumps. 
  • Sprinkle the seeds all over the soil
  • Gently ‘tickle’ the soil with seeds and pat gently to cover.
  • Loves light, so sew seeds near the surface and cover lightly with potting soil.
  • Spacing: 8-10 inches within row, fourteen inches between rows, three rows per bed.
  • Once established chamomile will spread to fill in the spaces between plants.

Pests

Disease

  • Powdery mildew – causes plant to look powdery
  • White rust
  • Leaf blight – causes leaves and center of plant to rot. Looks like yellow-brown patches on leaves
  • Damping off – causes chamomile sprout to wither and die unexpectedly. Occurs when fungus grows due to overabundant moisture. 

Insects

  • Aphids 
  • Thrips
  • Mealy bugs

Companion plants: California Poppy and Calendula

Harvest

  • Harvest in full bloom every seven to 10 days for a month. Blossom production will decrease after 4 weeks.
  • Flowers can be picked by hand, raked by a blossom comb or cut from the stem.

Harvesting Tools

  • Collection Bag- cloth or paper (something that breathes so that the herbs do not grow mold)
  • Wicker Basket – breathable tool for collecting herbs
  • Hand Sanitizer – avoid transferring contaminants to the plant 
  • A small stool or sitting mat. Optional. May be helpful when harvesting for a long period of time

Harvesting Procedure  

  • Sanitize hands and equipment. 
  • Relax and express gratitude to the plants. Extend positive regenerative energy to the plants. This is a labor-intensive process. It is also an excellent meditation. It can help to clear the mind and put you at oneness with the earth.
  • Harvest on a sunny day with extremely low humidity. Flowers should be picked when the sun has dried excess moisture from between the pedals.
  • Flower must already be opened fully on its own before you take it off. You can then pinch or pluck the flower head off of the plant.
  • New flowers are always emerging so harvesting can take place constantly (at least every three to four days ).

Helpful Tip: Process as soon as possible after harvesting (preferably within 2 hours).

Dried Chamomile Flowers

Items for Production

  • Disposable vinyl gloves
  • Plant dehydrator
  • Storage bags

Procedure 

  1. Put on a pair of disposable vinyl gloves.
  2. Weigh flowers and document the weight.
  3. Do not wash the flowers.
  4. Spread the flowers evenly across dehydrator trays.
  5. Check for and remove insects and any other impurities.
  6. Stack trays in the dehydrator.
  7. Set dehydrator to 90°.
  8. Set the timer to 48 hours.
  9. At the end of the cycle check to see if the flowers are fully dried.
  10. If not dried to your satisfaction set timer for another 48 hours.
  11. Upon completion place to dried plant material in storage bags.
  12. Weigh the yield and document the weight.
  13. Carefully label the storage bags. Note: Herb name, weight, and the date.
  14. Store in a dark dry place.
  15. Clean up the facility afterwards and put all equipment back in place.

Additional Notes

  • To ensure that the centers are dry while preserving the volatile oils, dry at lower temperatures, good airflow, and limited light exposure at 85-90 degrees.
  • Check for dryness by breaking a few blossoms apart. When dried to perfection the blossom comes apart easily without being overly crumbly or desiccated.

Chamomile Flower Tincture

Items for Production 

  • Disposable Vinyl gloves
  • Alcohol – 80 proof (40% alcohol) or 100 proof (50% alcohol
  • Batch jars (1 gallon wide mouth glass ) with lid
  • Scale
  • Tincture press
  • Cheesecloth or press filter bags

Procedure

  1. Put on a pair of disposable vinyl gloves.
  2. Weigh the fresh flowers and document the weight.
  3. Fill the jar up to its shoulder with flowers. 
  4. Fill with alcohol to completely cover flowers.
  5. Place the lid on the jar and store in a cool dark place.
  6. Let the jar sit for 4 to 6 weeks.
  7. Shake jars up periodically during that time.
  8. After this point it is stabilized and can be used whenever.
  9.  Drain off the liquid into another batch container
  10. Place the dregs into a cheesecloth pouch or tincture press filter bags.
  11. Use the herb press to press the remaining tincture out of the Dreggs.
  12.  Press hard enough to retrieve all liquid
  13. Measure and document the yield.
  14. May be stored in batches or decanted into vials for distribution.
  15. Clean up the facility afterwards and put all equipment back in its proper place.