Scientific: Matricaria recutita [WikiPedia]
Composition: The dried flowers of the chamomile plant contain terpenoids and flavonoids, which lend themselves to the plant’s medicinal properties.
Appearance: Chamomile is characterised by its ½ to 1-inch flowers, each with a yellow disk surrounded by ten to twenty white rays (petals).
Parts Used: Flowers
Common Uses: Chamomile has been used an herbal remedy since ancient times. The dried flower head of the chamomile plant contains beneficial medicinal properties, the major components being:
- 36 types of flavonoids;
- 28 types of trepenoids, and various:
- Phenolic compounds.
Chamomile is commonly used in human herbal medicine as a mild sedative, and as an antispasmodic to relieve menstrual cramps. Both effects are contributed by one of its constituents, apigenin, which is one of the more well studied active ingredients in plant medicine. Apigenin acts similarly to aspirin by inhibiting production of the chemical mediators of inflammation. It also dilates smooth muscle to relieve cramping abdominal pain and is a mild sedative and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety). Another active ingredient of chamomile is chamazulene, which also acts like aspirin to inhibit production of the chemical mediators of inflammation.
Because of these muscle-relaxing, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties, chamomile may provide relief in a variety of common small animal disorders. It may be applied topically as a concentrated tea to relieve skin inflammation, in keeping with the results of a small double-blind study in 1987 where chamomile reduced inflammation and accelerated healing of skin abrasions.
Chamomile can also be used as a sedative, especially where anxiety leads to gastrointestinal disorders such as gas, pain, and bloating. Chamomile has a reputed ability to soothe inflamed intestinal surfaces just as it does the skin, leading to its use to heal gastric ulcers. Indeed, one of the most common uses of chamomile in small animal medicine is to soothe and heal irritated intestines in inflammatory bowel disease.
Chamomile is often administered orally to dogs and may be used topically in both dogs and cats. It is given orally to relieve anxiety and to relieve inflammation in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (which can have many causes). It may be used alone or in combination with other western herbs such as mint, wild yam, liquorice, and ginger. The relaxation and immune-boosting properties may also aid with the following conditions, although different people may experience different effects:
- Anxiety linked with depression
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Esophageal reflux
- Hay fever
Alternatives and Adjuncts: For irritable bowel, diarrhoea and other gastric disorders, combine with plantain, slippery elm and marshmallow. For inflammatory urinary tract application, combine with corn silk, plantain, white oak bark, couch grass and marshmallow.
Topic Specific References:
- Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.): An overview [PubMED]
- Steve Marsden, DVM ND MSOM LAc DiplCH AHG, Shawn Messonnier, DVM and Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc, CVH [Ref]
- Chamomile for Dogs and Cats [Ref]
- Herbal Remedies Info [Ref]
- A systematic review study of therapeutic effects of Matricaria recuitta chamomile (chamomile). (PubMED) [Ref]
- Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future [PubMED]
- Antioxidant and anticancer activities of chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) [PubMED]
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PLEASE NOTE that herbal and other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.