Anthemis Nobilis. Chamomile. Roman Chamomile.
Nat. Ord. — Compositae, Senecionideae, or Asteraceae. Sex. Syst. — Syngenesia Superflua.
Description. — This is a herbaceous plant with a strong, perennial root, having long fibers. The sterns in a wild state are prostrate, in gardens more upright, from six to twelve inches long, branched, leafy, round, slender, hollow, furrowed, downy. The leaves are pale-green, bipinnate, sessile, with small, thread-like leaflets which are rather flat or channeled above, convex beneath, somewhat pubescent, acute, and generally divided into three segments. The flower- heads are terminal, solitary, rather larger than a daisy, with a convex yellow disk, and numerous white, spreading, or reflexed rays. The calyx is common to all the florets, of a hemispherical form, and composed of several small imbricated hairy scales, with thin, membranous edges. The receptacle is conical or convex, prominent, and furnished with rigid bristle-like paleae, one to each floret; the scales of (he receptacle do not appear till the florets of the disk are turned to one side, and the innermost are gradually narrowest. The florets of the ray are usually about eighteen, narrow, ligulate, white, spreading, three-toothed ; the disk florets are numerous, yellow, perfect, tubular, divided into five lobes. The stamens are five, very short. The ovary is obovate, and supports a slender style, with a bifid, reflexed stigma. The seeds are ovate, compressed, and slightly crowned.
History. — Chamomile is a native of Europe, and is extensively cultivated for medicinal purposes ; by cultivation the flowers become double, but the properties are not so great in these as in the single flowers, because the disk contains the virtues in the greatest degree. The flowers which are the whitest are the best ; the seeds yield a fixed oil by expression. As found in the shops, chamomile flowers are large, almost spherical, of a dull-white color, a fragrant odor, and a warmish, bitter, aromatic taste. By distillation they yield a volatile oil, at first of a pale, blue color, but which changes to yellow or brownish ; its stimulant properties depend on this oil, and a resin ; the tonic, on its bitter extractive ; it also contains a small quantity of tannin. Schendler has obtained from the flowers a volatile acid in minute proportion, much resembling valerianic acid. Water or alcohol extracts their virtues; boiling water extracts nearly one-fourth of their weight.
Properties and Uses. — In small doses tonic, and in large, emetic. Used in cold infusion in dyspepsia, and in all cases of weak or irritable stomach ; also in intermittent and typhus. A strong infusion, warm, and taken freely, acts as an emetic. The oil is carminative and antispasmodic. Used in flatulency, colic, cramp in the stomach, hysteria, nervous diseases, and in painful dysmenorrhea. Dose of the oil, five to fifteen drops, on sugar ; of extract, prepared in vacuo, which is the best form for internal administration, one to three grains. The flowers of the Matricaria Chamomilla, or German chamomile, possess similar properties to the anthemis, but are rarely used in this country, except by German practitioners.
Off. Prep. — Extractum Anthemidis ; Extractum Anthemidis Fluidum; Infusum Anthemidis ; Oleum Anthemidis ; Vinum Symphytii Compositum.