One of my favourite medicinal herbs of all time is Matricaria recutita commonly known as chamomile. It is a versatile herb that is useful for both adults and children and should be in everyone's first aid kit.
Although it is indigenous to many parts of Europe, chamomile is commonly grown worldwide for both its beauty and its medicinal use. It was popular in Elizabethan times to grow a lawn entirely of chamomile as when walked upon, it releases an intense aroma, sweet with quite a strong bitter quality. The main part that is used for medicine are the flowering heads, they look a little bit like daisies as they are in the same family, but they are smaller and more conical.
- stomach aches, cramps, flatulence and diarrhoea
- infant colic
- oesophageal reflux
- menstrual cramps
- wound healing
- nappy rash
- cradle cap
The main form of chamomile we use when Bowie's unwell is a liquid extract made by Kiwiherb called Kid's Calm. It has a pleasant taste and can be used right from birth. We have found it effective when she has an unsettled tummy, is grumpy, grizzly or fighting going to sleep.
When Bowie is teething we use a recently discovered and excellent product called Gum-omile: a blend of willow bark extract, chamomile extract and clove bud essential oil that is rubbed into the gums to soothe the pain.
And finally, for nappy rash we use the Weleda Nappy Change Cream which contains chamomile, calendula, sweet almond oil, sesame seed oil, beeswax, lanolin and zinc. Because calendula has anti-fungal properties, this product can be used for nappy rash caused by candida as well as standard nappy rash.
On top of that, babies and children can be given cooled down chamomile tea to help with a tummy ache, when feeling unsettled, or when weaning from night feeds. Just brew a pot of chamomile tea for around 5-10 minutes before cooling completely.
If your baby suffers from reflux, I recommend trying chamomile in a form like Kids Calm along with dietary changes for nursing mothers and babies eating solid food. This is an excellent first port of call before reaching for pharmaceuticals such as Omeprazole or Gaviscon. If reflux is severe Omeprazole may be necessary but may include side effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea and vomiting. Fortunately, chamomile can be used alongside to help ease the digestive tract symptoms and is a good example of integrated medicine.
As with all medicine, a herb like chamomile should always be treated with care. Although chamomile has no known side effects, there is a precaution for those with allergies or sensitivities to herbs from the Asteraceae family. Always seek advice from your healthcare professional first before undertaking any medical treatment.
Have you found chamomile useful for either yourself or your children? And what form did you use?