This is the start to a series where I will be going in depth about some of the medicinal herbs that I grow on our farm and use in my products. A sort of spotlight onto a single herb and how/why I use it in each of my products.
I am beginning with German Chamomile (matricaria recutita), a sweet and gentle herbal ally to get to know on a intimate level.
Chamomile is quite easy and lovely to grow in your home garden. Give it summer sun, a light to medium amount of water, and pick from it weekly to obtain blooms all summer long. I recommend planting it in soil in the springtime and keeping the soil moist to germinate. If where you live experiences nice spring rains then you’ll be taken care of. A way to ensure you will have chamomile is to sow the seeds in trays and raise starts to then transplant out into the garden. Here is a great link on seed starting. The great thing about chamomile is that it seeds itself for next year, as long as you let it hang around late summer, go to seed, and drop its seeds in the soil. My favorite place to get seeds is at www.strictlymedicinalseeds.com.
Chamomile has been used for generations and generations to aid folks in stressful situations.
It has a gentle yet effective affect on the nervous system, immune system and digestive system. It is safe to use on children, adults, and even babies through breastmilk. Try taking it or administering it during highly stressful, anxious, or frustrating times. It is helpful if experiencing children’s colic, stomach disorders, uneasy digestion, infections. Any discomfort within digestion can be aided by a cup of chamomile tea or tincture. It is like a deep breath, there for you to call upon when you need. I created a chamomile oxymel so that this medicine can be shared with folks of all ages. An oxymel is an alcohol-free tincture made of herb, organic apple cider vinegar, and local honey. It tastes delicious and sweet, with a hint of tangy!
All of our body & systems benefit from touch. It stimulates the lymph to flow healthily which aids in detoxification, calms the nerves, increases circulation, among so so many other things.
When administering it topically, try it in a massage oil form. After a shower when your pores are cleansed and open massage onto your temples, feet, or whole body! Take the time to massage yourself or ask a loved one to nourish you, this ritual is the perfect nightcap. I am a firm believer in whole plant infusions. This means that I collect the plant at peak potency, finely chop the material, and infuse it into the carrier oil for 2-4 months (time dependent on plant). Because the entire plant is infused into the oil, the components are able to truly awaken and seep into the carrier oil. No part is missing or being stripped out; it is a slow method that creates a high quality product that is essentially better for the environment. Essential oils, use a LOT of plant material to create each little bottle. For example, it takes roughly 63 lbs of lemon balm to make 15 mL of Essential Oils. I choose to infuse the plant material into organic sunflower oil because while it is a nice and light oil, it is deeply nourishing and warming so that any type of skin is able to soak it in. Also, It carries more Vitamin E than any other vegetable oil. Lastly, growing oil sunflowers has the lowest environmental impact of large scale vegetable oils because the flowers depend on the least amount of water, have the lowest carbon footprint, can be planted in poor soil, and are GMO free.
Water as Medicine. Hydrosol; hydro meaning water, sol meaning solution.
Why do hydrosols work? Because we quite literally are water and our body is able to recognize hydrosols immediately when it comes into contact with our skin. We can hydrate, tone, cleanse our skin. While also tapping into the aroma therapeutic properties to uplift, clear, and stabilize our mood.
What is a Hydrosol?
In the most basic sense a hydrosol is a distilled plant or flower water. I use my copper still to create steam that flows upwards through whichever plant I am distilling. The water vapors rise and spiral back down through the condenser to cool and form back into liquid. The steam naturally extracts water-soluble components, essential oil molecules and the magic of the fresh plant. In each bottle, you may see little dots of oils, those are the essential oils.
How do you use a Hydrosol?
In short, all the ways! The list is quite endless. My favorite way is as a face toner and hydrator. They are wonderful in foot baths, compresses, clay masks, cream/lotion making, eye pads, drinking water, etc. They can be used for depression, anxiety, burns, scrapes, headaches, sinus congestion, eczema, acne, sensitive skin, etc.
Chamomile Hydrosol helps to soothe muscle spasms, relieves pain, calms the nervous system, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
“Pharmacological and clinical studies confirm what herbalists have long known: The common wayside plant known as chamomile is a very important medication for the nervous system. One of chamomile’s major constituents is azulene, a beautiful, azure blue, volatile oil obtained by steam distillation. Azulene contains whole complex active principles that serve as anti-inflammatory and antipyretic agents.” pg. 321 in Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. Above is a beautiful example of the azulene that german chamomile carries within its little magical blooms.
Gently detoxify and soothe your skin. I specifically chose white clay for its ability to cleanse but in a sweet & subtle way. All of the flowers in this blend are wonderful allies to the skin. Roses are great at toning all skin types and are mildly astringent, helping to pull bacteria and dirt from pores. Calendula is a potent bloom known to promote cell repair and growth. While also being anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, helps treat skin infections, rashes, sores, bruises, and burns. German Chamomile is anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, calming, and helps ease soreness.