What is chamomile? Hi there, fellow beginning herbalists! Bertie here with more herbal information for you. This time it's on chamomile! Here's a pic of my one little plant:

 My German chamomile plant in a container

This fragrant herb is best known for its calming tea. There are two popular types: Roman and German chamomile. (Mine is of the German variety.)

Both are great for relaxation and offer various health benefits. So let’s explore how chamomile helps with sleep, skin irritations, and more, without making big promises.

Remember, while chamomile is beneficial, some people might be allergic, especially if they are sensitive to ragweed or similar plants.

Note: At the end of my article on chamomile, I'll have a quick update in pics of my growing herbs! I'm really excited about my little herb garden and am learning so much about each herb I have planted!

Key Takeaways

  • Chamomile has been used in traditional medicine for ages, with Roman and German chamomile being the most common types.
  • Chamomile tea offers an array of health benefits, such as promoting sleep and relaxation, helping with digestive issues, and possibly improving mental health and skin conditions.
  • Despite its many benefits, chamomile may not be suitable for everyone due to potential allergic reactions and interactions with drugs, necessitating caution and consultation with a healthcare professional.

Understanding Chamomile: Origins and Types

Illustration of Roman and German chamomile plants

As early as 1550 B.C.E., chamomile began its legacy as a staple in traditional medicine. Its cultivation and medicinal use spread throughout Europe, particularly noted in the 16th century, as it became a household remedy for various ailments.

Today, it stands tall among medicinal herbs, known not just for its therapeutic uses but also as a symbol of nature’s gentle touch in healing.

Within the chamomile family, two stars shine the brightest: Roman and German chamomile. While they share a floral resemblance, they are distinct in their characteristics, properties, and chemical compositions.

One of the key physical differences between the two species is the appearance of their flowers. Roman chamomile has a small, white flower with a yellow centre, while German chamomile has a larger, white flower with a cone-shaped yellow centre. Formula Botanica

These differences (while difficult to see) lend each type its unique place in the world of herbal medicine. Let’s look at these two varieties and learn why one might prefer to drink chamomile tea made from one type over the other.

The Difference Between German and Roman

Roman Chamomile

Roman chamomile growing in a garden
  • Scientific name: Chamaemelum nobile.
  • Origin: Europe, now also found in North and South America.
  • Appearance: Small, white daisy-like flowers with a sweet, fruity scent.
  • Uses: Mainly used in essential oils for aromatherapy massages. Caution: Pregnant women should avoid it as it might cause miscarriages. Also, people allergic to ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and chrysanthemums should also be careful.
  • Essential Oil: Known as blue oil, used for various health benefits. Here is a link to Amazon for the price and more information on Roman Chamomile essential oil.

Roman chamomile is mainly used in essential oil form, unlike its German cousin, which is often consumed as a tea. It’s a favorite in aromatherapy massage for its soothing effects, but it comes with words of caution as mentioned above.

The essential oil of Roman chamomile, often referred to as blue oil due to its deep azulene color, is a gem in the realm of herbal medicine.

Its applications span from dietary chamomile tea to herbal supplements, providing a natural remedy for various health concerns.

However, the wisdom of herbal medicines reminds us to approach with knowledge and respect for each plant’s power, to be we capture chamomile’s benefits responsibly.

German Chamomile

Woman lying in a field of German chamomile
  • Scientific name: Matricaria recutita.
  • Appearance: Taller plant with white, daisy-like flowers and a strong, aromatic smell.
  • Uses: Commonly used to make herbal tea. It helps with stomach aches, calming nerves, menstrual cramps, and as a sleep aid.
  • Health Benefits: Known for soothing digestive issues and promoting relaxation.

It stands taller than its Roman counterpart, with a branched, erect stem and daisy-like flowers that have a strong, aromatic smell. The flowers, blooming in early to mid-summer, are a common sight from fields to gardens.

This little plant, often referred to as wild chamomile, finds its way wherever open soil is available, showcasing its resilience and adaptability.

German chamomile is cherished for its use in making herbal tea and for its role in producing essential oils.

When you drink chamomile tea, chances are it’s made from this variety. The health applications of German chamomile mentioned above are extensive, including:

  • Soothing stomach aches
  • Calming nerves
  • Relieving menstrual cramps
  • Serving as a gentle sleep aid

It’s this array of benefits that makes German chamomile a beloved herbal tea, a natural extension of the kitchen to the medicine cabinet.

Growing and Harvesting Chamomile

Illustration of blooming chamomile flowers in a garden

Growing chamomile is a gardener’s delight. I plan on having more next year, not just in a container, but in my little ground space as well!

Not only does it add a touch of whimsy with its delicate flowers, but it also plays an important role as a companion plant, attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs and honey bees (we just love bees🐝here at Bertie's Buzz!)

Both Roman and German chamomile each have their own growing preferences but both are pretty easy to grow. Roman chamomile, with its low growth and preference for partial shade, thrives in zones 4-11, while German chamomile, with its taller stature and fern-like branches, flourishes in all zones. I mentioned earlier that I have the German variety. So delicate and beautiful!

Harvesting chamomile is as easy as growing it. Here's what Epic Gardening says about harvesting:

Harvesting chamomile is easy. Simply snip off the top of the bloom, or gently place your fingers underneath the bloom and pull upwards, snapping off the flower head while holding onto the stem of the plant. You want to make sure you don’t lift the whole chamomile plant out by its roots! 
After picking off the daisy-like flower head, it can also be a good idea to cut back some of the bloom-free stems to help encourage further growth. Don’t forget, you can get multiple harvests of chamomile throughout the entire summer. Elizabeth Cramer

After collection, the drying process begins. While a food dehydrator can be used, air drying on a screen or towel is preferable to preserve the delicate flavors and medicinal properties. I am air drying my little beauties on a hand-crocheted cloth in our Bertie Bee colors! That's a little Greek marjoram on the side.)

Chamomile flowers drying in a basket with Greek marjoram on the left

Chamomile Tea: Preparation and Flavor

Illustration of a cup of chamomile tea with lavender

Making chamomile tea is super easy and really rewarding. All you need is a tablespoon of dried chamomile flowers and some boiling water. Just pop them into a tea infuser, steep for 5 minutes, and voilà, you've got yourself a calming drink.

The taste? It's got this mellow, honey-like sweetness that's clean and gently floral, kind of like a peaceful meadow at dusk.

If you're in the mood for something a bit more interesting, try adding some lavender, apple mint leaves, or a squeeze of lemon juice. I'm told it really kicks the flavor up a notch! Hmmm, lavender - that sounds interesting for sure!

Whether you’re winding down after a long day or seeking a moment of tranquility, drinking chamomile tea is an act of self-care. It’s a warm embrace in a cup, an herbal tea that has stood the test of time, offering comfort and flavor in equal measure.

And as we’ll see, the benefits of chamomile tea extend well beyond its pleasant taste. Some of the benefits of chamomile tea include:

  • Helps with sleep and relaxation.
  • Reduces anxiety and stress.
  • Soothes an upset stomach.
  • Relieves menstrual cramps.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Supports skin health.

Source: Medical News Today by Peter Morales-Brown

If you can't grow chamomile here are two links to Amazon: Chamomile Flowers or, if you prefer Chamomile Tea Bags. Why there's even one that's Lavender Chamomile!

So go ahead, brew yourself a cup of chamomile tea and enjoy the many benefits it has to offer.

Health Benefits of Consuming Chamomile

Chamomile tea is more than just a tasty drink. As mentioned above, it offers several health benefits, including improved sleep, better digestion, and potential mental health support.

Sleep and Relaxation: Drinking chamomile tea before bed can improve sleep quality. It’s best to drink it 30-45 minutes before bedtime.

 illustration of a person enjoying a peaceful sleep after drinking chamomile tea

However, chamomile tea is not a cure-all for sleep issues, especially for chronic primary insomnia. Chamomile’s benefits for sleep are part of a holistic approach to well-being, one that considers the complexity of our sleep and mental well-being.

Digestive Health: Chamomile tea helps soothe digestive issues like flatulence, indigestion, and ulcers.

Whether you’re dealing with an upset stomach or searching for gentle support for your digestive system, chamomile may provide the relief you’re seeking.

Mental Health and Anxiety: Chamomile may help reduce anxiety and improve symptoms of depression. As with any natural remedy, it’s important to approach chamomile with a healthy dose of skepticism and an understanding that it is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Chamomile in Skincare and Topical Applications: Chamomile is also great for skincare. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it a popular ingredient in creams and lotions for acne, aging signs, and skin hydration.

Illustration of chamomile being used in skincare products

Chamomile’s versatility extends beyond ingestion; it’s also a valued player in the skincare arena.

The herbal medicines market has taken note of chamomile’s skin benefits, incorporating it into a variety of topical applications.

Whether it’s in the form of chamomile oil, capsules, or creams, all found on Amazon, the plant’s soothing properties continue to be harnessed for their therapeutic potential. You can see by following the above link to Amazon just how many are on the market, from moisturizers to cleansers; from toners to night creams.

Precaution - sign with "Use at own risk"

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

While chamomile is generally safe, it might cause allergic reactions in some people, particularly those who are sensitive to the daisy family or related plants like ragweed.

This is crucial information for those with allergies or taking specific medications, as chamomile can cause allergic reactions or interfere with medications.

Additionally, Roman chamomile is more likely to trigger allergies and may interact with other drugs, including cyclosporine and warfarin, underscoring the need for caution and consultation with a healthcare provider. Mount Sinai Healthcare

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also be cautious due to limited research on its safety. Always consult a healthcare provider if you have concerns.

As with any herbal supplement, it’s wise to approach chamomile with an awareness of its potential side effects and the importance of informed use.

Field of chamomile flowers with summary written across two close-up flowers


As we've seen from my research, chamomile is a versatile herb with a rich history and many health benefits.

Whether you’re drinking it as tea, using it in skincare, or for its calming effects, chamomile is a natural way to improve well-being.

BUT always be aware of potential allergies and consult with a healthcare provider if necessary.

May this ancient herb continue to soothe, heal, and comfort us for generations to come, as it has for those before us.

Frequently asked questions with blurred background of chamomile flowers and oil bottles

Who should not drink chamomile tea?

Pregnant women and those allergic to asters, daisies, chrysanthemums, or ragweed should avoid chamomile tea due to the risk of miscarriage and potential allergic reactions.

Additionally, individuals should not drink highly concentrated chamomile tea if it may cause vomiting or drowsiness, to ensure they do not drive impaired.

Can I drink chamomile tea if I'm allergic to ragweed?

No, if you're allergic to ragweed, it's best to consult with a healthcare provider before consuming chamomile tea as it may trigger allergic reactions. Always prioritize your health and seek professional advice regarding allergies.

Is chamomile tea safe to drink during pregnancy?

It's best to avoid chamomile tea during pregnancy, as it may pose a risk of miscarriage, particularly Roman chamomile. Seek medical advice before consuming chamomile tea while pregnant.

How does chamomile tea improve sleep?

Chamomile tea can improve sleep because it contains compounds with a mild sedative effect, helping to improve overall sleep quality when consumed 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.

Update On Our Beginner Herb Garden

Here are some pics of our little growing herb garden! Compare these pics with our Lively Update article!

Thanks for stopping by our beehive and reading all about chamomile!

Check out our other articles on herbs including starting an herb garden, an update on our project, basil, sage, and lavender. Our next research will be ashwagandha! Something I know nothing about except that my ashwagandha plant is thriving! See you next time!


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