Chamomile

Historical note Chamomiles have been used as medicines since antiquity and traditionally grouped in botanical texts under the same general heading. They were probably used interchangeably. Roman chamomile was reportedly used to embalm the Egyptian Pharaoh, Ramses II, and is thought to have been introduced into Britain bythe Romans during their conquests. The Anglo-Saxons used chamomile, presumably the Roman chamomile, as one of their nine sacred herbs. Culpeper lists numerous ailments for which chamomile was used, such as jaundice, fevers, kidney stones, colic, retention of urine and inflammation of the bowel (Culpeper 1 995). It was also widely used to treat common conditions in children including colic in infants, teething pains and fever (Grieve 1976). It is used in the treatment of gout and to reduce the severity of sciatic pain, either taken internally or applied as a poultice externally (Culpeper 1995). Today, chamomile tea is one of the most popular herbal teas in Australia and New Zealand, and extracts are also used in cosmetics, as bath preparations, in hair dye for blonde hair, shampoos, mouthwashes and preparations to prevent sunburn (Foster & Leung 1 996).

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