Herbs are the medicine of nature’s drugstore. Unfortunately, nowadays, almost every adult or child has ‘plant blindness’, an inability to recognize different plants – and we can extend that to animals – and appreciate their value.
What was the last animal you saw? Can you describe it? What about the last plant? Plant blindness does not mean that you actually cannot see a plant or animal. You can observe it, but you cannot name it and describe it accurately, and you do not know how it can be important for you, like for example, a sheep. This is a huge problem for plant conservation but also consumer attitudes about changing lifestyles or nutrition habits.
Hundreds of thousands of plants are used daily in your life without you even noticing it.
Going back to my grandmas’ roots, I wish to tell you about a plant that is easy to recognize and find in nature, in meadows and other places: chamomile. It is an excellent example for what we are talking about here. In nature, you can find it anywhere, and in supermarkets or drugstores, you can find it in many products. It has numerous uses.
When you and the drugstore run out of sore throat medicine, what can you do? Chamomile tea with honey can relieve a sore throat and cough…and many more ailments!
From Hippocrates to modern medicine, it has been recognized that its main effects are antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory but it also benefits mental health. I can be used internally or externally. In other words, it can help you to ‘calm your nerves,’ and relieve insomnia, hysteria, and headaches.
Homeopathically, it can be used to help hypersensitive people from drug users to the emotionally depressed. It is obvious why my Yiayia said, “drink a chamomile to relax,” the night before my university exams. On the other hand, it has a lot of beneficial external uses for skin, hair, teeth, etc. This about how many hygiene and cosmetic products are packaged with huge letters that say: “with chamomile extract.” Well you just paying for a fancy bottle with mainly unknown content. The main ingredient, chamazoline, produces all the anti-inflammatory and antiallergic effects. Buying some organic chamomile and making an infusion may have a better effect. This infusion can be used to heal burned skin, acne, toothaches, eye infections, hemorrhoids, mouth sores, and other ailments. Also, it can relieve pain from urinary tract infection.
For a relaxing experience you can take a hot bath with chamomile, sage, rosemary, mint, and anise. You will sleep like a baby (or you can offer it your newborn to relieve discomfort from colics)!
And the last use: my grandma said “it makes the hair blond.” Well it works more or less, but also makes hair stronger – and smells heavenly!
How many of these uses were you aware of the last time you saw the humble chamomile? Now you know what you can do with it! Trust your nose and look for it in nature – it is everywhere!
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.