Sunday, May 6, 2012

Herb Day 2012; Roman Chamomile

Today is well known for being Cinco de Mayo, but did you know that it is also herb day this year?

While I unfortunately live nowhere near any of the events, I am celebrating by enjoying a particular herb that is helping me get through the allergy season; Roman Chamomile.

I am breastfeeding my daughter, so the use of anti-histamines is not something I want to be doing all day every day for a few weeks. But I also have psoriasis on my eyelids, so just dealing with the itchiness is not an option for me, I have to have something to relieve my symptoms or else my eyelids start to crack and bleed.

Enter Roman Chamomile! Specifically, the essential oil from this wonderful plant. It has some seriously powerful multiple anti inflammatory effects, helps protect from UV damage and restore elasticity, and is an anti-oxidant to boot!

It is the anti inflammatory effect that I am after right now though. When my eyelids get really itchy I put half a drop of this wonderful oil on the affected areas and everything calms right down. Sweet, wonderful soothing bliss. It is almost as powerful as lidocaine at this concentration! Breathing in the scent helps soothe the nasal passages too.

When using this oil, make sure that you first dilute it to under 2%, or buy the essential oil already mixed with a carrier oil. I use jojoba oil for this. You also have to be very careful about not getting it in your eyes, so I use an amount that is still effective but won't run. Small applications work well as you can repeat them as needed and you really don't need much to get the full effect of this powerful herb.

As always, exercise caution with essential oils - they are very concentrated and powerful! Natural does not mean safe. Always consult someone who is knowledgeable in the use of herbs before using them, especially if you are pregnant or nursing - Roman Chamomile is absolutely not safe to ingest during pregnancy.

This year I decided to grow a few more herbs than I usually do, including Roman Chamomile. It was surprisingly hard to find in either seed or plant form. In the end I found it as a plant in my local garden center, the larger chains did not carry it at all. A few carried the seeds of German Chamomile but as I am native to England I wanted the variety that is most familiar to me. When I asked why it was much harder to find, no one really had an answer for me other than it is just not as widespread.

They are both interchangeable in most of their uses, with a few subtle differences.

The Roman is;
Anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, bitter tonic, carminative, digestive, emmenagogue (promotes menstrual flow), nervine, sedative, stomachic.

While the German is;
Anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, calmative, carminative, digestive, emmenagogue (promotes menstrual flow), mild bitter, nervine, sedative.

Supposedly the Roman Chamomile is a perennial so hopefully I will be able to enjoy it for years to come! Our winters are pretty harsh here though so we shall see how well it fares.

Have you ever tried to grow any herbs other than the traditional kitchen herbs like basil or thyme? Did you do anything for herb day this year? Do you have any tips regarding chamomile?

This post was shared through the Barn Hop

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