In our Ingredient Spotlight series, we take a deep dive into our powerful plant-based ingredients.
There is a well-known blossom in the herbal world that is loved for its sweetness and renowned for its gently cleansing and calming capabilities—that flower is chamomile.
The Global History of Chamomile
This low-growing, daisy-like flower is named for its sweet, apple-like scent, and has often been called “ground apple” for this same reason. Native to the Mediterranean, chamomile has been used medicinally and in culinary dishes for many years. It’s been mentioned in texts as far back as the 16th century, with both Egyptians and Romans using chamomile in salves, teas, and incenses.
From Spain to Mexico to the Indigenous people of what is now the U.S., chamomile has been consumed all around the world for ages, by many different cultures, and for many different purposes. Today, it’s still one of the world’s most popular teas, with more than a million cups consumed daily.
The Soothing Effects of Chamomile
One of the most common uses for chamomile is to aid with digestion. Chamomile reduces bloating, soothes stomach cramps, and generally encourages healthy digestion. As a natural muscle relaxer, it can be helpful for athletes looking to support muscle recovery as well as for people who experience painful menstrual cramps.
Chamomile isn’t just soothing for the muscles, it can also help calm your thoughts and relax the nervous system. The essential oils in chamomile are received by the brain as a slight sedative, so this herbal medicine is perfect for reducing stress or anxiety, and encouraging deep, restful sleep.
The best way to get the digestive and overall soothing effects of chamomile is to brew the flowers in a tea. Fresh or dried flowers with a little bit of honey are the perfect combination for a sweet cup of calm. You can keep it simple or make it a bit more luxurious with this warm chamomile-honey-vanilla latte in winter, or this iced version for hot summer days.
If you’re looking for an even easier way to incorporate chamomile into your nighttime routine, try the sleep STIK that can be easily stirred into any tea, water, or other beverage. Or simply add a few drops of chamomile essential oil to a spray bottle and use it to mist your pillow for some gentle bedtime aromatherapy.
Chamomile’s Cleansing Properties
A nightly cup of chamomile tea is also good for boosting immunity and fighting off a cold. This sweet flower’s antimicrobial properties make it perfect for supporting your immune system and more. Another common application for chamomile is as a cleansing compress for inflamed skin minor wounds, and rashes. A chamomile compress is recommended for helping to heal new piercings.
Chamomile is great for your skin, and it's gentle enough to be safe for use on all skin types, including babies, pregnant people, and people with sensitive skin. Since it’s both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, chamomile also makes for a perfect ingredient to treat acne.
With some mucilaginous compounds, this little flower is hydrating and soothing for topical applications and skincare. Chamomile is a great ingredient to look for in face toners, mists, or moisturizing salves and creams. And we love the way that Alison Wu uses the dried flowers to add a bit of beauty and healing to her self-care bath rituals.
Chamomile is a Sweet and Supportive Herbal Ally
No matter what you use it for, chamomile is one of the world’s most soothing herbal medicines. From teas and tinctures to skincare applications or even just enjoying the edible flowers in a salad, there are about a thousand uses for chamomile.
With its history as a calming, cleansing, and gentle herb, chamomile has wound its way our culture and lives, and it’s clear that the future for chamomile is bright. We love the way that chamomile has become such an important ally for daily self-care and overall health and wellness.