Common names: chamomile (also spelled camomile), Italian camomilla, German chamomile, Hungarian chamomile, wild chamomile or scented mayweed,
Chamomile belongs to the order Asterales and the Asteraceae family and is a very commonly used herb. It is an annual plant which frequently appears during autumn and overwinters. The root is fusiform and does not go very deep into the soil. The stem is cylindrical, upright or lying on the ground, depending on the habitat and the environment, being 5-80 cm tall. The leaves are spread, lanceolate-oblong and pinnatisect. The flowers are borne in paniculate flower heads (capitula), the initially hollow receptacle is later swollen and lacks scales. The flowers appear in late April and early May and bloom until mid-summer.
Chamomile is native to the Mediterranean region and has spread throughout all temperate regions as a weed associated with wheat plantations. They are typical plant species of the saline areas and often occur along roads, in meadows, wheat and alfalfa fields but there are also important chamomile plantations.
The drug comes from chamomile flowers (Chamomillae anthodium) and the essential oil (Aetheroleum Chamomillae). The flowers can be collected when the tubular yellow disc flowers are already in bloom and the ray flowers reach their horizontal position. They are collected with a harvester called comb.
Chamomile can grow in almost any type of garden soil, providing rich harvest especially in the sunny areas. Propagation is done by seeds, in late August and early September. Spring crops are unsafe and will have fewer flowers. Chamomile seeds are sprouting in the light so they must be sprinkled on the ground surface and they should not be covered with soil. Chamomile seeds withstand the winter in the form of basal rosettes and the flowers appear the next year, in May. After harvesting the first flower cycle, in favorable circumstances, new stems will develop at the bottom of the old ones giving birth to a new generation of flowers.
The flowers can be dried both naturally and artificially. In the case of natural drying, the flowers shall be placed next to each other and thus they do not need to be turned and will not break. Overall, 5 kg of fresh flowers will provide 1kg of dried drug.
Chamomile contains a considerable amount of essential oil, an important component of which is chamazulene. Except essential oil, the plant also contains flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, patuletine and glycosides), coumarin but also mucous substances such as pectin.
Due to its therapeutic properties, chamomile is one of the herbs used since the ancient times. The plant is known for its antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects. It is very effective in treating gastrointestinal ulcers and inflammations. In case of respiratory diseases, chamomile inhaled. Chamomile tea has soothing, antispasmodic, carminative effects, strengthens the stomach and aids digestion. It is used as a mouthwash for gum problems or in case of pharyngitis. In form of compresses, it is used to treat eczema or slowly-healing wounds, inflamed eyes and insect bites. Hip baths with chamomile are effective against hemorrhoids or inflammation of female genitalia. Oil derivatives are used to treat small burns and pressure ulcers.
Chamomile is an important raw material for cosmetics, excellent for making ointments, creams and shower gels. It is also used for hair care products, soothing the irritated skin, treating dandruff and itching. Are ingredient of hair care products, it lightens the blonde hair colour and gives it a silky shine.