Manzanilla tea is one herbal remedy that almost everyone has used. Chamomile tea, called manzanilla or “little apple” in Spanish, due to its apple-like scent, is one of the best herbal remedies for anxiety and sleeplessness. A cup of manzanilla tea before bed soothes and relaxes the mind, without leaving you groggy in the morning. It is safe for young children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and the elderly. And while you probably know it well as a sleep and anxiety remedy, you probably didn’t realize that manzanilla tea is one of the best remedies for tummy upset, nausea, and colicky pains, among its many other benefits.
My introduction to the power of manzanilla tea
Chamomile or manzanilla tea was my very first introduction to herbs and herbal medicine. It was 1977. I was 18 years old and working as a teller at the Bank of Montreal in Malliardville, near Vancouver. One Friday the other teller was away at lunch and the branch executives were handling customers at the side counter. The branch was a deep narrow room with the entrance at one end and my teller wicket at the other. There was a line up. The next person in line handed me a note scrawled on a brown paper bag. It read, “Give me all your money. I’ve got a gun.” He pointed to the bulge in his left sweat shirt pocket.
The world started going in slow motion. I looked the man in the face and mentally recorded a description, 5 foot 10 inches tall, Caucasian, grey sweat shirt, blue jeans, brown eyes, longish brown hair, while simultaneously slipping the $1s, $2s, $5s, $10s, and $20s into the bag. As I looked intently at his face his eyes darted away, looking anxious. My hands were shaking as I slipped the paper clip off the marked bills and included them in the cash. Good. He wasn’t watching me. I didn’t lift the drawer cover and I didn’t include the $50s and $100s that were sitting under the top cash tray. He didn’t notice.
He took the brown bag and walked quickly out of the branch. I waited till he was clear of the outside door and pressed the alarm. I put up the closed sign at my wicket and called for another teller to serve the customers. I took out a deposit slip and wrote down a description of the bank robber on the back, with shaky writing.
The phone rang at the Manager’s desk. She looked at me across the bank, raising her eye brows. I nodded. She hung up and hurried over to my wicket. I was escorted over to the tea shop next door and given cup after cup of chamomile tea to stop the shaking. I told the story to the bank manager. Then I repeated it to the RCMP. Then I was taken home in a taxi and went to bed.
Manzanilla tea for travelling sickness
More than 1 million cups of manzanilla tea are drunk every day around the world. Most restaurants and coffee bars carry it. It is widely available in grocery stores both as a single herb and in blends. While you can probably find it at the airport when you travel, I suggest you take you own tea bags with you. They don’t take up much space and they don’t add significant weight to your luggage.
Chamomile is one of the best herbs to tuck into the pocket of your carry-on luggage. It helps with upset stomach, nausea, indigestion, anxiety, and insomnia. It is also useful for allergies, and that uneasy feeling that you get when you are eating strange food and drinking strange water. And there’s no weird potions and elixirs with chamomile tea bags. There’s nothing to spill with the changes in cabin pressure. Chamomile won’t make a mess of your bag. All you need is a few chamomile tea bags.
While you can get by with commercially available chamomile tea, there is less than half a teaspoon of herb in each tea bag. You’ll need 5 tea bags for just one recommended serving of chamomile tea and that can get expensive. However you can prepare your own tea bags at home and pack them to take with you, with just the right amount of organic chamomile in each tea bag.
Chamomile or Manzanilla Tea to Go
Yield: 16 tea bags/servings
1 cup of chamomile tea
16 Press and Seal tea bags
Place 2 to 3 teaspoons of chamomile flowers in each tea bag. Preheat the iron on the cotton setting. Seal the tea bag with the hot iron.
Place the tea bag in a heat proof cup. Pour 8 ounces of boiling water over the tea bag. Cover the cup to hold in the aromatic essential oils. Steep for 10 minutes. Sip slowly to ease upset stomach, colic, or anxiety.
The benefits of Manzanilla or Chamomile
Chamomile is a your first defence against indigestion, upset stomach, and nervous anxiety that gives you that butterflies-in-the stomach feeling. Chamomile is readily available as herbal tea everywhere that tea is sold. It was so commonly used by the grandmothers of olden days that old herbals dismissed discussion of it as a waste of space. Knowledge of chamomile’s potency and use was wide spread among mothers and grandmothers for at least the last 2000 years. Remember Peter Rabbit of Beatrix Potter’s sweet stories? After his near death encounter with Mr. MacGregor, Mother Rabbit tucked him into bed with a cup of chamomile tea.
Manzanilla is a Eurasian native, with use dating back to ancient Egypt. Today it is cultivated throughout the world with commercial harvests in the Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, as well as China and India.
Chamomile is an herb of waste places and gardens. It is a short lived annual that self-seeds freely in zones 3 to 8. In warmer climates it sprouts up after frost and goes to seed by midsummer. Further north it grows throughout the summer months.
Plant chamomile in full sun and with well-drained soil. Chamomile seed is tiny like dust. Plant the seed by scattering it over prepared soil where you want it to grow. Tamp the seeds in to the soil surface, but don’t cover. The seeds need light to germinate. The seeds germinate in 7 to 10 days when soil temperatures are 43 to 45°F (6 to 7°C). Chamomile thrives in cooler regions.
Harvest the flowers as they open. In the North they will continue blooming over the whole summer if they are kept picked and prevented from going to seed. Allow a few plants to go to seed to perpetuate the plot. A blueberry rake makes the harvest of the open flowers more efficient.
Dry the hollow flowers in the dark, away from sunlight. I put them in a wicker basket lined with a tea towel, on a coffee table. They are dry in a couple of days.
Make Chamomile Your Next Herbal Ally
You can download the following Materia Medica for Chamomile/Manzanilla here and put it in your Herbal Materia Medica File.
If you are new here, learn to study one herb at a time and download the workbook master plan for creating your own Materia Medica Reference Guide next.
Chamomile Materia Medica
Common names: Chamomile, German chamomile, garden chamomile, ground apples, pin heads, manzanilla, Little Apples, alles zutraut (German),
Scientific Name: Matricaria recutita,
Related species: Roman Chamomile or English Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis or Chamaemelum nobile) This is a perennial ground cover but the flowers are used in a similar way.
Part used: Flowers and leaves
Constituents: Vitamins: niacin, polysaccharides, mucilage, glucose, fructose, galactose.
Volatile oils: Azulenes,
Flavonoids: apigenin, rutin, luteolin, quercimeritin,
Courmarins: umbelliferone, herniarin,
Actions: aromatic, bitter, carminative digestive, nervine, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-microbial, antibiotic, vulnerary, sedative, antiseptic, stimulant, anti-fungal, analgesic, antipyretic, antioxidant, antiviral, antihistamine, anticatarrhal, astringent, anti-allergenic, antispasmodic,
Body systems: Digestive system, nervous system, respiratory system, liver, kidneys
Contraindications: Safe for babies, children, and pregnant women. Fermenting the flowers in beer or mead causes the alcohol to be more potent, in a gentle way. Those who are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family may also be allergic to chamomile, however reactions are rare.
The flowers can be used fresh or dried in infusions. A tincture is an excellent form to take chamomile as it insures that all the constituents of the herb are extracted and available.
Tincture: 1:5 in 40%, Dosage: 1 to 4ml 3 times daily.
Infusion: 2 to 3 teaspoon of herb in 8 ounces boiling water, cover and steep for 10 minutes. Drink 3 to 4 times a day.
Chamomile makes up 50% of the ingredients in Sleepytime Tea, the iconic herbal tea made famous by Celestial Seasonings. Chamomile is included because it’s a relaxing nervine that helps with anxiety and insomnia. Chamomile is probably the most used relaxation herb in the world. It helps with all kinds of anxiety and stress related problems. Chamomile has been the subject of scientific research with most of its folk uses verified in studies.
But chamomile’s influence goes beyond just relaxing you. It is useful for menopausal depression, loss of appetite, dyspepsia, gastric ulcers, diarrhea, colic, aches and pains, flu, migraine, neuralgia, teething, dizziness, motion sickness, inflammation of the eyes, skin rashes, coughs, and lung and sinus congestion.
Chamomile is a bitter carminative that aids digestion. Science has found that chamomile’s actions are strongest on the liver and kidneys, causing them to dump their toxins, so that they can be excreted from the body.
Gripe water, a traditional remedy for baby’s colic contains chamomile extract to help soothe baby’s tummy pains as well as baby’s anxiety. Here’s my recipe for gripe water.
Download the Materia Medica
Don’t over look this humble daisy-like flower when you need a strong but gentle remedy for upset stomach, colic pains, and indigestion. Manzanilla tea will soothe both the tummy pains and the nerves, restoring calm.
For a specific remedy for colic in young children, infants, and new borns try my gripe water tea recipe here.
Stephen Harrod Buhner, Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation (The Brewer’s Publication, Siris Books, 1998)
Philip Fitchey. Practical Herbalism, Ordinary Plants with Extraordinary Powers. (Whitman Publications, 2004)
Rosemary Gladstar, Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family. (Storey Books, 2008 edition)
David Hoffman. Medical Herbalism, The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine (Healing Arts Press, 2003)
Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Molecular medicine reports. 2010;3(6):895-901. doi:10.3892/mmr.2010.377.
What do you do for occassional tummy upset? Do you have a tested home remedy that is your go to remedy for indigestion?