The Urban Farmer, Issue #030 * Guest Herbalist Offers Awesome Program!
Herb Lover’s take note!
Today we are
excited to have a guest herbal columnist on our ezine. Kiva Rose is a well-known
herbal blogger, and co-founder of the Traditions in Western Herbalism
Conference. Kiva is finally coming out with her secrets of how she learns so
much about plants without using books. Her plant monographs, like the one below,
are famous for their deep exploration into herbs that you will not find in other
Click here to
learn just HOW she does it. Herb Energetics with Kiva Rose
REALLY know chamomile?
I doubt it. Enjoy the article…
Apple: The Bittersweet Medicine of Chamomile
By Kiva Rose
I am excited
to finally be able to go deeper into explaining herbal energetics in my upcoming
course, Herb Energetics with Kiva Rose.
with an herb we all know and love, chamomile. However, do
you REALLY know Chamomile?
means “earth apple” which is easy to understand when we accidentally trample the
flowers and underfoot and suddenly smell the welcome fragrance of apples rising
from the earth. In the same way, Spanish speaking peoples often use the name
Manzanilla, literally meaning “little apple”.
Even for those
largely unfamiliar with herbs, the distinctive sweet scent of Chamomile is often
both familiar and comforting. This plant is many people’s first and perhaps only
introduction to herbalism, often from a cup of honey-sweetened and belly-calming
tea from their grandmother.
enjoy eating the buds or just opened flowers, savoring the sweet aromatic taste
of the plant, and rarely seeming to mind the slightly bitter aftertaste. Some
patches of Chamomile, depending on phase of flowering and availability of
moisture, are much more bitter than others but the fragrant sweetness persists
even in the most bitter batches. Far from
irrelevant, these signature sensory characteristics of Chamomile that make the
plant memorable in our minds are also the primary keys to understanding how to
work with Matricaria as a medicine.
As with almost
any herb, the taste and scent of Matricaria tells us a great deal about its
properties, allowing us to use our senses to listen to the plant and understand
its essence as a medicine. That blissfully apple-like scent that children so
love to breathe in from the flowers tends to bring relaxed smiles to their faces
and anyone who’s ever drank a cup of the tea can testify to the relaxing,
tension alleviating effects of the plant.
component, stemming from the plant’s high volatile oil content, is predictably
nervine, meaning that it has a discernible effect on the nervous system. In this
case, a specific relaxing, calming effect. Additionally, that same volatile oil
content is responsible for Chamomile’s actions as a carminative, relieving
digestive stagnation in the form of gas, gut cramping and mild constipation. A
traditional remedy by several North American indigenous tribes for the uterine
cramps of girls just beginning their menstrual cycles, Chamomile is a mild
relaxant for the smooth muscles of the gut, uterus, bladder and respiratory
tract, with a specific affinity for the gut.
not just aromatic, even in the sweetest Chamomile flowers we find a notably
bitter aftertaste. Rather than ruining the flavor of an otherwise tasty herb,
that bitter element enhances and expands the medicinal properties of the plant.
The bitter flavor tells us that it has a distinct effect on the digestive
system, even beyond the aromatic/carminative qualities.
increases the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes in the gut, thereby
improving digestion wherever there is a lack of secretions, which is a common
cause of heartburn and many cases of general gut discomfort. This combined with
its obvious nervine properties; Matricaria excels at treating what is commonly
known as a “nervous stomach”, which generally implies digestive upset concurrent
with anxiety and nervous tension.
and bitter principles together make for a powerful ability to reduce
inflammation and promote healing, especially in the gut. I rarely create a
formula for those with leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome or even Crohn’s
disease that doesn’t contain some proportion of Chamomile. Even as a simple,
this pleasant tasting plant can very effectively reduce gut inflammation, pain
and cramping while promoting healing of the mucosa and improving overall
digestion. And of course, reducing any anxiety that may be aggravating or
triggering the gut issues in the first place.
Just as it
soothes and heals internally, Matricaria is also a first-rate external
application for almost any case of inflammation, irritation, swelling and even
potential infection. It finds its way into many of my compress formulas for
eczema, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and other common inflammatory skin
and infused oil are other effective ways of utilizing the calming, decongestive
and healing properties of the herb. It’s also the first plant I think of in
addressing the discomfort, irritability, insomnia, belly upset and fever of
teething in small children.
one of my favorite remedies for all sorts of eye inflammations and infections.
It can be used as a warm compress or saline eyewash to reduce inflammation,
possible infection and pain in the treatment of styes, conjunctivitis, pink eye
and similar maladies. It teams up
especially well with any Rosa spp. petals where there is a great deal of
redness, irritation and swelling in the eye and the surrounding area. Just be
sure to strain all those tiny (and potentially irritating) bits of Chamomile
flower before using as an eyewash.
a well-deserved reputation as an archetypal remedy for children (or as Matthew
Wood says “children of any age”), especially where there is fussiness,
restlessness, frequent digestive upset and a tendency to react strongly to any
irritant or discomfort. If one were to read the first dozen monographs on Matricaria they came across, the word “soothing” would be likely to show up in
nearly every one. While now a somewhat clichéd representation of this common
herb, it is nonetheless very accurate.
tendency by some of us to be less interested in the classic gentle herbs whose
effects seem obvious, mild and less than profound. And yet, Chamomile has
retained it’s popularity and reputation over the years for a very a specific
reason. It works. It’s an effective, widely applicable, safe medicine well-loved
by countless generations of mothers, herbalists and more recently, even medical
doctors. This small but fragrant apple of the earth remains an invaluable
medicine for all of us. Through both sweet and the bitter tastes, Chamomile
provides us with a simple yet essential remedy.
People with sensitivities to plants in the Aster family may have similar
problems with Matricaria. Also note that Pineapple Weed (M. discoidea) often has
a stronger bitter component and overall action than the common garden grown M.
Chamomile, Manzanilla, Pineapple Weed
Name: Matricaria recutita (as well as M. discoidea)
Aromatic, sweet, bitter
relaxant nervine, relaxant diaphoretic, aromatic bitter/carminative, vulnerary,
Irritability, tension, heat, hypersensitivity to pain
sl. Cool, dry
So, exactly how does Kiva learn about plants by using her senses?
Just click here
Herb Energetics with Kiva Rose
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