|The earliest known usage of chamomile is during
the Egyptian times. The Egyptian dedicated it to the sun god, Ra because if cured agues and malarial chills that plagued the ancient civilization. Diocorides and Pliny recommended baths or poultices of chamomile to relieve headaches and disorders of the kidneys, liver and bladder.
In 1550, Anthony Askham's "A Little Herbal" stated about chamomile:
"This herbe is called camomyl, the vertuy of this herbe is thus if it be doike w wine it will breke the stone and distroyeth the yellow
evel. It helpeth y aking and the disease of y lyver, if it be strained it helpeth and swageth y lozes in a mans mouth, it is good for aking in a mans head, and for the
megri, this herbe is hoote and drye."
By 1651 when Culpeper's "Complete Herbal" was published, chamomile was so familiar that he stated, "It is so well known every where, that it is but lost time and labour to describe it: the virtues thereof are as
followeth." The virtues that Culpeper stated were:
"A decoction made of camomile taketh away all pains and stitches in the side...the bathing with a decoction of camomile taketh away weariness..."
The Anglo-Saxons described chamomile as one of the nine sacred herbs given to heal the world by the god
Woden. Throughout history, chamomile has been a popular remedy for many ailments from common cold and flu to digestive disorders, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, nervousness and insomnia.
Chamomile has also served many other useful purposes. In Medieval England, chamomile was used as a "stewing" herb, which was a popular method to freshen the air. In Spain, chamomile was known as manzanilla or "little apple" and was added to sherry as a flavoring. It has also been used as a hair rinse to highlight blond hair.
Prior to cold storage of meats, meats were submerged in chamomile tea to counter the rancid odor of the meat. Also chamomile has been known to work as an insect repellent.
Roman chamomile has been held in esteem throughout history for medicinal qualities. However, to German herbalists, German chamomile was the true chamomile. Heinz Grotzke wrote the "the Germanic tribes considered the camomile sacred in ancient times and dedicated it to their sun god Baldur because to them the
camomile's yellow center and white petals around it seemed to convey sun forces." English herbalists have not been so kind to German chamomile. Culpeper called it "a hateful weed". Throughout history German chamomile has been referred to as feverfew. Maude Grieve, a modern English herbalist, commented that German chamomile "is not ranked among the true chamomiles by botanists..." She listed the medicinal properties as carminative, sedative and tonic.
During Elizabethan times, chamomile (most likely Roman chamomile) was used as a groundcover or in an herb bench. Shakespeare commented in King Henry: "Though the
camomile, the more it is trodden on, the faster it grows, yet youth the more it is wasted, the sooner it wears."
In the well-known children's story of Peter Rabbit, even Peter Rabbit's mother knew the virtues of chamomile. When Peter Rabbit returned from his adventures in Mr. McGregor's garden, not feeling too well, his mother put him to bed and made him some chamomile tea. The dosage was "one table-spoonful to be taken at bedtime." Illustrating that throughout history both chamomiles have served in many capacities.