The taste of nature; chamomile is earthy, slightly bitter, with hints of sweet and a mouthfeel that is slightly astringent. 

chamomileteaIt is growing wild everywhere in the fields right now and each afternoon as I wander through the landscape I am assailed with the scent of roman chamomile on the wind. The name chamomile derives from Greek and French and it translates into “earth or ground apple”. For some reason I really love that and have even a greater affinity for this lovely little herb. Chamomile appears quite delicate with feathery and fernlike leaves and dainty white, daisy like flowers that smile up at the sun; however apparently it is quite hearty and seems to be growing everywhere among the crops and wild plants.

Chamomile is typically considered a medicinal herb commonly known as a remedy for stress and anxiety; however, it can also be a really interesting addition in the culinary realms. It is part of the flowering plant family that also includes the daisy, the Jerusalem artichoke, and even the dandelion. The flowers, leaves, and roots can be used for various remedies and recipes.

From a culinary perspective, I have mostly only used chamomile as a tonic or medicinal remedy, yet recently have come across some really interesting culinary endeavors using chamomile. For example, lemon and chamomile infused crème brulee.  Or how about sea scallops with a chamomile infused butter sauce?

chamomilecustardFrom a health perspective, chamomile has a long, long history as a medicinal intervention. Its chemical properties are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, astringent and antibacterial. Traditionally, it has been used as a treatment for wounds, ulcers, eczema, gout, skin irritations, bruises, burns, canker sores, neuralgia, sciatica, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids. Externally, chamomile has been used to treat things like diaper rash, chicken pox, ear and eye infections, and other issues of the eyes including blocked tear ducts, conjunctivitis, nasal inflammation and even as a remedy for poison ivy.  Chamomile is also widely used to treat inflammation mucous membranes and also for bacterial infections. Chamomile is also used as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety, to treat hysteria, insomnia and other sleep problems. Chamomile is also a digestive relaxant and has been used to treat a variety of gastrointestinal issues including indigestion, diarrhea, and nausea. So here’s where I love when traditional medicine and science meet up in the middle... every traditional intervention listed above is also being demonstrated in the lab. Got to love that! So it may be worth sitting down to a cup of chamomile tea sometime soon.