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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chamomile and Pineapple Weed: Herbal Wellness Workshop at Back To Basics 2010

German Chamomile
                                                              (Matricaria chamomile)
                                       Also known as; Mayweed, Scented Mayweed. 

                                  Pineapple Weed
                                                          (False Chamomile)

In 2010, on the homestead in Aitkin County, there was Pineapple Weed growing in abundance near the chicken coop! There had always been a bit growing, but the conditions were perfect for abundant growth. I was able to wild craft a couple of huge cuttings in spring and early summer. It did wintered over, and I was able to harvest it again in the spring of 2011.

Description: Chamomile is typically an annual herb originally from Europe. It has escaped and is now naturalized on almost every continent. The branched stem is somewhat erect, round, hollow, and grows to about 20 inches tall. The leaves are finely divided, light green and feathery. The flowers are daisy-like about 1 inch across and bloom from May to October. The entire plant has an apple scent. Planted in the garden is said to help sickly plants to grow. A close sister plant known as the Pineapple Weed grows abundantly and wild crafted. To wild craft look for it growing along fence rows, roadsides, and in sunny open fields. The entire wild plant has a pineapple scent.  
Propagation: Chamomile can be propagated by seed. Seeds germinate easily. The plant thrives in partial shade, but can be grown in full sun if kept moist. May winter over for another season, maybe two. Pineapple Weed is a wild perennial.
Constituents: The flowers contain various volatile oils including proazulenes. Upon steam distillation these proazulenes produce chamazulene, a remarkable anti-allergenic and is useful in the treatment of asthma and hay fever. 
Harvesting and Preservation: Gather the flowers each day as they bloom, in the morning and dry in a dehydrator. Infuse flowers and leaves with oil and then keep refrigerated. When collecting flowers for essence, do not touch but instead cut with scissors into a glass bowl. Preserve in dark glass with equal amounts of vodka or brandy.                                                          
Wellness Properties and Modalities: Both cultivated Chamomile and the wild sister Pineapple Weed have basically the same properties. Pineapple Weed tea is naturally sweeter tasting. Chamomile is one of the most widely used flowers for herbal tea. It is used as a mild sedative, and is good for insomnia as well as many other nervous conditions. It is especially suited to teething children and those who have been in a highly emotional state over a long period of time. The anti-inflammatory properties make it good for rheumatism, arthritis, and other painful swellings. Additional uses include an antispasmodic for intestinal and menstrual cramps, relieving gas pains, and a very mild but efficient laxative. Milder tea in large doses is given throughout the day for fevers, sore throats, the aches and pains due to colds, flu, and allergies.
Dried Flowers: Made into potpourri and herb pillows. Used as an insect repellent.                                                                                                                       Wash/Compress: Relieves skin inflammations, sunburn and burns.                                          
Infused Tea: Added to bath for relaxing tired, achy muscles.                                                       
Infused Oil: Flowers used in cosmetics as an anti-allergenic.                                                                                                                 Ointment/Salves: For use on hemorrhoids and wounds.                                                               
Flower Essence: Harmony/Higher Wisdom which stimulates the pineal gland which creates states applicable to meditation. Aligns the mental body and emotional tensions are released. Emotional stability and greater calm results from the use of chamomile elixir.                                                                                                                                                        Miscellaneous Uses: Chamomile tea is used as a liquid feed and plant tonic, effective against a number of plant diseases.
Cautions: Except for the small risk of allergy, Chamomile is also one of the safest herbs to use.
Culinary Uses: The flowers are edible and quite tasty in salads.
Folklore: The Blackfoot Indians called it mat-o-at-sin, using the dried plant as a perfume.


Julie said...

If yours doesn't make it, we have a big patch of it too. You can come and harvest if you'd like.

Terri ~ "T" ~ said...

Oohhh I'd like that Julie. One can never have enough to make tea with. I'll try and remember and come and pick. Thanks Julie!