German Camomile (Matricaria recutita)

M. chamomilla. Auct. Chamomilla recutita. (L.)Rauschert.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
German Camomile
Matricaria recutita

An infusion of the flowers is used as a hair shampoo, especially for fair hair[14, 20, 168]. It is also used as a liquid feed and general plant tonic, effective against a number of plant diseases[14, 18, 20]. The flowers are also an ingredient of ‘Quick Return’ herbal compost activator[32].

The whole plant was formerly used as a strewing herb[4, 168]. The whole plant is insect repellent[14, 20].

An essential oil from the whole plant is used as a flavouring and in perfumery[46].

Yellow to gold dyes are obtained from the flowers[168].

  • Medicinal Use

    German camomile is a well known herbal remedy and is much used in the West. In particular it is an excellent herb for treating various digestive disorders, nervous tension and irritability and is also used externally to treat skin problems[254].

    An infusion of the flowers is taken internally as an anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, sedative, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator[7, 218, 238]. An infusion is particularly useful as a stomachic, nervine and sedative for young children, especially when they are teething[238]. It is also used in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, peptic ulcers and hiatus hernia[254]. In large doses, or when taken regularly for several times each day, the tea can be emetic[218] and can also cause the symptoms it is intended to cure[232]. The flowers are also used externally to treat wounds, sunburn, burns, haemorrhoids, mastitis and leg ulcers[238]. The flowers are harvested when fully open and are dried for later use[254].

    The flowers contain various volatile oils including proazulenes[254]. Upon steam distillation these proazulenes produce chamazulene, this is remarkably anti-allergenic and is useful in the treatment of asthma and hay fever[254]. The flowers are sometimes added to cosmetics as an anti-allergenic agent[238].

    The whole plant, harvested when in flower, is used to make a homeopathic remedy[232]. It is especially suited to teething children and those who have been in a highly emotional state over a long period of time[232].

  • Edible Use

    The young sprigs are used as a seasoning[15].

    The dried flowers are used to make herb teas[21, 37]. It is aromatic but with a very bitter flavour[4].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring or autumn in situ[238]. Germination should take place within 3 weeks.
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any well-drained soil in a sunny position[200]. It prefers neutral to slightly acid conditions and succeeds in poor soils[238]. It usually self-sows freely when well-sited[K]. Chamomile has a long history as a gentle and effective folk medicine for a wide variety of disorders, being especially effective and safe for children[K]. There is some confusion between this plant and Chamaemelum nobile as to which is the genuine camomile. This species is said to be more bitter and inferior to Chamaemelum nobile in some reports[200] and to be more active medicinally in other reports[9, 238]. Both have similar properties and can probably be used interchangeably[K]. The whole plant has a pungent aroma[245].
Europe, including Britain, east to W. Asia and the Himalayas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.