Chamomile flowers (Anthemis, U.S.P.) consist of the dried flower-heads of Anthemis nobilis, Linn. (N.O. Compositae), a small annual plant indigenous to Britain and cultivated there as well as in Belgium and France. Those collected from cultivated plants are alone official. The dried flower-heads form hemispherical masses about 12 to 20 millimetres in diameter. Under cultivation the yellow disc florets of the wild plant change more or less completely into white ligulate florets, and the flower-heads are then known as double or semi-double, according to the extent to which this change has taken place. Chamomile flowers are particularly characterised by the solid, conical receptacle, and by the abundant, blunt, narrow, scaly paleae. German chamomiles (Matricaria Chamomilla, Linn.) have a hollow conical receptacle and no paleae, whilst feverfew flowers (Chrysanthemum Parthenium, Bernh.) have flat receptacles, and any paleae that may be present are acute. True chamomiles have a strong aromatic odour and bitter taste. They yield about 5 per cent. of ash on incineration. In its wild state the chamomile plant produces flower-heads consisting of two or three rows of bracts surrounding a single row of ray florets with white ligulate corollas, the centre being occupied by numerous yellow tubular florets closely packed on a solid conical receptacle, which bears in addition numerous chaffy paleae. Such wild flowers are often collected by Scottish cottars (peasant farmers) for their own use, any excess being sold to druggists and known as Scotch chamomiles, but they are scarcely a commercial article.
Constituents.—Chamomile flowers contain 0.8 to 1.0 per cent. of a volatile oil, a crystalline bitter glucoside (anthemic acid), and a phytosterol (anthesterol), together with wax, fatty oil, and glucose. Anthemic acid is glucosidal and easily hydrolysed, the bitter taste at the same time disappearing. Preparations of chamomile flowers should therefore be subjected as little as possible to the action of heat.
Action and Uses.—The bitter principle of chamomile has well-marked stomachic properties, and its volatile oil (see Oleum Anthemidis) is effective as an antispasmodic. It is used internally to improve the appetite and aid digestion, and for this purpose the extract and infusion are administered in atonic dyspepsia. A warm infusion of the drug acts as an emetic. The flowers are sometimes employed externally in the form of a poultice. Used as a warm fomentation, chamomile is a popular remedy in the early stages of inflammation. A decoction of chamomile and bruised poppy capsules is a popular fomentation for bruises, and deep-seated inflammations; for dental abscesses the fomentation is applied inside the mouth. The oil may be combined in pills with purgatives to diminish the tendency to griping.
- Aqua Anthemidis, B.P.C.—CHAMOMILE WATER.
- Chamomile flowers, 10; water, 200. Distil 100. An aromatic and stomachic vehicle for use in mixtures. Dose.—15 to 30 mils (½ to 1 fluid ounce).
- Decoctum Anthemidis et Papaveris, B.P.C.—DECOCTION OF CHAMOMILE AND POPPY.
- Chamomile flowers, 10; poppy capsules, 5; distilled water, to 100. Used hot as an anodyne fomentation to abscesses; the marc is also applied as a poultice.
- Extractum Anthemidis, B.P.—EXTRACT OF CHAMOMILE.
- An aqueous extract containing added oil. Extract of chamomile is added to pills containing rhubarb and aloes for its carminative properties. Dose.—1 to 5 decigrams (2 to 8 grains).
- Extractum Anthemidis Liquidum, B.P.C.—LIQUID EXTRACT OF CHAMOMILE. 1 in 1.
- Used as a carminative and bitter. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (½ to 1 fluid drachm).
- Infusum Anthemidis, B.P., 1885.—INFUSION OF CHAMOMILE.
- Chamomile flowers, 5; boiling distilled water, 100. "Chamomile tea" is a domestic remedy for indigestion. Used as a vehicle for other bitters. Dose.—30 to 60 mils (1 to 2 fluid ounces),
- Infusum Anthemidis Concentratum, B.P.C.—CONCENTRATED INFUSION OF CHAMOMILE.
- A product closely resembling infusion of chamomile is obtained by diluting 1 part of this preparation with 7 parts of distilled water. Dose.—As a stomachic 2 to 8 mils (½ to 2 fluid drachms).