If you are or were a fan of the Peter Rabbit stories by Beatrix Potter you will know that Peter’s mother gave him chamomile tea after he had eaten too many vegetables in Mr. McGregor’s garden and so had a stomach ache.
Chamomile tea, or tisane can calm a troubled stomach and works very well for period pains and the irritability associated with PMS/PMT. It can ease the pain of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and colon pains- I have a spastic colon and it certainly helps with that.
The word tea is perhaps misleading as no tea is used to make this drink; chamomile tisane is perhaps a better term for this drink. It is soothing and not only does it clam a troubled stomach, but it also soothes frazzled nerves- just the thing after a hard day’s work or if you want a nightcap which won’t keep you awake. Even without clinical trials and supporting evidence, if you take chamomile tisane before going to bed you should sleep soundly. It has a mild sedative effect and soothes the mind and body.
You can make a tisane with an ounce of the chopped fresh tops of the plant, leaves and flowers to one pint of boiling water. Pour the water over the herb and leaves to steep for 15 minutes. After that strain the liquid and drink a cup of it having added a little honey to sweeten it.
The tisane is also useful minus the honey to soothe the skin. If you have an itchy rash, chamomile tea will help if you dab it onto the affected area with cotton wool. It is also useful if you get sunburned and will soothe your burning skin.
If you have blonde hair you can lighten it with a decoction of chamomile made in the same way as the tisane, but boiling the herb in the water until the liquid has reduced by half. Use the water as a rinse to highlight your hair and make it shine.
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans made poultices with the flowering tops to speed up the wound healing process. The tisane can help in the management of diabetes, but you should not use it if you are allergic to members of the daisy family.
Some clinical trials seem to point to the possibility that chamomile extracts can help treat some cancerous cells, but research is ongoing and no conclusions have been reached. It can, however boost the immune system and help to prevent colds and winter chills. If you have a cold it will help it go away more quickly and you will feel better after drinking a cup of warm chamomile tisane.
If you buy dried chamomile then ask for manzanilla or German chamomile, although other varieties will do. If you have some in your garden, harvest it when it is in flower and hang it up to dry in a warm area where there is plenty of air – a kitchen is usually fine.
Be prepared for winter and start having a daily cup of chamomile tea now for a healthier you this winter.
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