The Many Benefits of Chamomile
By Amiah Taylor
When you were little, did your parents read you “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” as a bedtime story? Well thanks to my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad apartment complex, I’ve been having trouble sleeping.
I’ve had noisy workmen coming in with all kinds of clunky power equipment and what sounds like the world’s heaviest work boots to stomp all over the building’s roof and loudly fix it. And what’s better is that every day this week they’ve leaned their ladder against my living room window and worked directly above my bedroom from 8 am to 8 pm. I wake up promptly at 8 am to what my groggy mind thinks is thunderclaps, but is actually Thor’s hammer or whatever gargantuan tool they’re using for raucous repairs.
But I digress, the one thing that has been getting me through my days in one piece, is tea. A morning and nightly cup of tea adds a bit of ritual and respect to an otherwise disjointed day. One of my favorite origin stories for tea is an old Korean tale. Legend has it that six kingly eggs descended from heaven and each man that was hatched grew to have his own great and mighty kingdom. One of the men, King Suro, went to the mountains and prayed for a worthy wife. He was granted a lovely Indian princess, Heo Hwang Ok, who had seen him in her dreams and decided that he was her fated husband. When she came to him for their destined union, as part of her dowry she brought tea seeds, and the rest was history.
The type of tea that I’ve been leaning on this week personally is chamomile. If you’re well versed in flower folklore, then you know that chamomile flowers were lauded for imbuing strength in difficult situations. With the workers tap dancing on my roof, I’ve been guzzling the stuff down.
But chamomile is such a universally recognized herbal remedy that nearly every continent sings its praises. It’s been proven to improve pain from both sciatica and rheumatoid arthritis. It also offers antispasmodic, anti-microbial, anti-cancerous, anti-anxiety, and antiviral properties, just to name a few. Did you know that ancient Egyptians held chamomile in the highest regard and thought it was a sacred gift from their Sun God, Ra? It was a cure-all for everything from fevers, to malaria, to heatstroke. It was even used in the mummification process for the deceased because of it’s fragrant and insect-repelling properties. “Prenditi una camomilla” is a cheeky Italian phrase that colloquially means, “take a chill pill,” but denotatively means “have yourself a chamomile tea.” Chamomile is actually widely known for inducing a strong and soothing sense of relaxation and is utilized by many aromatherapists for tension relief.
In India, chamomile is seen as a cleansing herb that strengthens the solar plexus chakra in combinations with ayurvedic herbs such as ginger and turmeric. Chamomile has also been historically tied to the improvement of women's health, treating everything from cracked nipples to morning sickness. The scientific name for German chamomile is Matricaria chamomilla, matricia is derivative from the Latin word matrix, or “womb.” Following this logic, chamomile has been recommended as a nervine for menstrual cramps and can also improve low libido. Unsurprisingly in German, chamomile is called alles zutraut which translates to “good for everything.”
And in a way does certainly seem that chamomile is good for everything. I can personally testify that it offers some headache relief. Additionally, it’s great for unwinding and nourishing your body. While it has many topical benefits, such as being anti-inflammatory, my favorite way to consume it is as a beverage. If you’re looking to dip your toe into the wonderful world of chamomile, I’d recommend the Night of Nights Mind + Body Soothing Tea by House of Waris. It’s a really beautiful formulation with the sweet and heady scent of passionflower.
And if drinking a warm beverage isn't your cup of tea, you can always run a nice hot bath and indulge in the properties of chamomile through a sensuous soak. For me, this Mind + Body Stress Release Bath Soak usually does the trick because of it’s added skin-nourishing boost of CBD. It’s this really floral and indulgent blend that will really whisk you away to better times...like when there were no workmen chaotically repairing your roof.