Related entry: Roman Chamomile
The dried flower-heads of Matricaria Chamomilla, Linné (Nat. Ord. Compositae). Wastes of Europe, Asia, and Australia. Dose, 1 to 60 grains.
Common Names; German Chamomile, Wild Chamomile.
Principal Constituents.—A dark-blue, aromatic, volatile oil (Oleum Chamomillae Aethereum) and possibly a crystallizable, bitter, anthemic acid, and a crystalline alkaloid anthemidine.
Preparations.—1. Specific Medicine Matricaria. Dose, 1 to 60 drops.
2. Infusum Matricaria, Infusion of Matricaria (½ ounce to 16 fluidounces). Dose, 1 to 4 drachms.
Specific Indications.—Nervous irritability, with fretfulness, peevishness, impatience, and discontent; morbid sensitiveness to pain and external impressions; sudden fits of temper when menstruating; muscular twitching; fetid, greenish feculent alvine discharges, or when the stools are green and slimy, or of mixed whitish curds and green mucus, associated with flatulence, colic, and excoriation of the anal region; if a child, the head sweats easily and the discomforts of teething, flatulent colic, etc., are transient and intermitting, and the nervousness is relieved by being carried about in the arms.
Therapy.—According to dose and manner of use, matricaria is a stimulant diaphoretic and nerve sedative. Its calmative action is so satisfactory that even the skeptic in therapeutics becomes a convert to the fact that there is great therapeutic energy in some simple agents which, by usual tests, fail to show decided so-called physiological action. Matricaria, simple and safe as it is, is remedially potent. Could it more generally have taken the place of "soothing syrups", so largely destructive to infant life, the history of baby mortality might have been a less appalling story. No child need be laid in its grave because of its administration.
Matricaria, better known to some as chamomilla, is pre-eminently a child's remedy, especially for the very young child. It has two well-marked, specific fields of action—(1) on the nervous system, subduing irritability; and (2) on the gastro-intestinal tract, allaying irritation. Its influence is well seen upon the infant during the period of dentition. In such conditions it is adapted to the restless, peevish, irritable, discontented, and impatient infant, who is only appeased when carried about in order to quiet its nervousness and unrest. The child needs both sympathy and matricaria, both sound measures in infant therapeutics. In such children it may be equally a remedy for constipation or diarrhea. In the former case, there is usually hepatic tenderness. In the latter, the discharges may be variously characterized-watery and greenish, slimy, green and slimy, or yellow and white lumps of undigested curds, giving them the well-known name of "eggs and greens". Such stools usually excoriate the child severely, and are accompanied by colicky pain of greater or less severity. The urine is passed with difficulty, and there is more or less bloating of the abdomen. Flatulence is often marked, and the surface is alternately flushed and pale. Under such irritable conditions it proves a useful remedy in infantile dyspepsia, and when teething the child cries out in sleep and there is sometimes a tendency to convulsions. This condition it may ward off by controlling the nervous excitation, but it is of little value after convulsions occur. Sometimes a gently laxative dose of sodium phosphate preceding or accompanying the matricaria will enhance the efficacy of the latter. Matricaria is useful for the swelling of the breasts in the newborn (usually with phytolacca), and in the involuntary passage of urine in the young. For the flatulent colic of early infancy it is one of the safest and most effectual medicines. For this purpose it should not be sweetened.
Matricaria is invaluable in some affections of nervous women, a field in which it is too frequently neglected, perhaps not being considered a powerful enough medicine. In woman or child it is a nerve sedative, and adapted to irritation and not to atony. In the latter months of pregnancy it frequently allays false pains, cough, nervous muscular twitching, and other unpleasant nervous phenomena. In amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea, with weighty feeling in the uterus and tympanites, it often relieves, as it does in cases presenting sudden explosions of irascibility, and in those having cramping or labor-like pains and meteorism. The hot infusion is particularly useful in suppressed menstruation from colds, and often controls earache and facial neuralgia from the same cause. The matricaria patient is extremely and morbidly susceptible to pain, is hyperesthetic, and the nervous apprehension is all out of proportion to the actual pain suffered. This remedy should be resorted to when one is tempted to employ opiates and other more powerful pain relievers.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.