103. Anthemis nobilis. Common camomile.
Synonyma. Chamaemelum. Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Gerard Emac. p. 755. Park. Parad. p. 289.
Chamaemelum nobile seu Leucanthemum odoratius. Bauh. Pin. p. 135.
Chamaemelum odoratissimum repens, flore simplici. J. Bauh. Hist. v. iii. p. 118. Raii Hist. p. 353. Synop. p. 185.
Chamaemelum foliis subhirsutis, nervo duro, pinnis pinnatis, pinnulis lanceolatis incisis. Hal. Stirp. Helv. n. 102.
Anthemis nobilis. Hudson Flor. Ang. With. Bot. Arr.
Class Syngenesia. Ord. Polygamia Superflua. Lin. Gen. Plant. 970.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Recept. paleaceum. Pappus nullus. Gal. hemisphaericus, subaequalis. Flosculi radii plures quam 5.
Spec. Char. A. foliis pinnato-compositis linearibus acutis subvillosis.
The roots are perennial, fibrous, spreading: the stems are slender, round, trailing, hairy, branched, of a pale green colour, and about a foot in length: the leaves are doubly pinnated; the pinnae are linear, pointed, a little hairy, and divided into three terminal segments: the flowers are compound, radiated, white, at the centre yellow, and stand singly: the calyx is common to all the florets, of an hemispherical form, and composed of several small imbricated scales: the flowers of the radius are female, and usually about eighteen, narrow, white, and terminated with three small teeth: the tubular part of the floret encloses the whole of the style, but does not conceal the bifid reflexed stigma: the flowers of the disc are numerous, hermaphrodite, tubular, [*] and cut at the brim into five segments: the filaments are five, very short, and have their anthers united, forming a hollow cylinder: the germen is oblong: the style is short, slender, and furnished with a bifid reflexed stigma: the seeds are small, and of an irregular shape: the receptacle is supplied with rigid bristle-like paleae. It grows in most pastures, and flowers in July and August.
The name Camomile is supposed to be expressive of the smell of the plant (greek), quoniam odorem mali habeat. [Plin. L. 22. c. 21.] It is referred to the (greek) of Dioscorides, and to the (greek) of Theophrastus. Matricaria Chamomilla, or Corn Feverfew, is similar in its general appearance to the Anthemis nobilis, and is directed for officinal use by most of the foreign pharmacopoeias; but the plant which we have here figured has a more fragrant and a more powerful odour, yields more essential oil, and of course is the more efficacious.
A double-flower'd variety of Camomile is very common, and usually kept in the shops, but as the odorous and sapid matter chiefly resides in the disc, or tubular part of the florets, the London College therefore judiciously prefer the simple flowers, in which this matter is most abundant. [The tubes of the florets appear beset with minute glands, which probably secrete the essential oil.]
Both the leaves and flowers of this plant have a strong though not ungrateful smell, and a very bitter nauseous taste, but the latter are the bitterer, and considerably more aromatic. "Camomile flowers give out their virtues both to water and rectified spirit: when the flowers have been dried so as to be pulverable, the infusions prove more grateful than when they are fresh or but moderately dried. Distilled with water, they impregnate the aqueous fluid pretty strongly with their flavour: if the quantity of camomile, submitted to the operation, is large, a little essential oil [Baumé obtained from 82 ℔ of the flowers 13 drams, and once 18 drams of essential oil. But from a like quantity of the herb, without the flowers, only half a dram of this oil was procured. See Berg. M. M. p. 695.] separates and rises to the surface of the water, in colour yellow, with a cast of greenish or brown, of a pungent taste, and a strong smell, exactly resembling that of the camomile. Rectified spirit, drawn off from the spirituous tincture, brings over likewise a part of the flavour of the chamomile, but leaves a considerable part behind in the extract. The smell is in great measure covered or suppressed by the spirit, in all the spirituous preparations; but the taste both in the spirituous tincture and extract, is considerable stronger than in the watery." [Lewis, M. M. p. 221.]
These flowers possess the tonic and stomachic qualities usually ascribed to simple bitters, having very little astringency, but a strong odour of the aromatic and penetrating kind, from which they are also judged to be carminative, emmenagoge, and in some measure antispasmodic and anodyne. They have been long successfully employed for the cure of intermittents; [Morton, (Exercit. i. de febr. interm. cap. 6.) Hoffman, (Diss. de praestan. rem. dom. p. 29.) Heister, (Diss. de Medic. Germ. indig. p. 13.) found these flowers more effectual in the cure of intermittents than the peruv. bark: and Dr. Cullen observes, that his celebrated countryman, Dr. Pitcairn, was of opinion that the powers of Cam. flowers were in this respect: equal to the bark. ] as well as of fevers of the irregular nervous kind, accompanied with visceral obstructions, for which we have the authority of Sir John Pringle. [Dis. of the Army, p. 216.]
That camomile flowers may be effectually substituted for Peruvian bark in the cure of intermittent fevers, appears from the testimony of several respectable physicians, to which we have referred; and to which we may add that of Dr. Cullen, who says, "I have employed these flowers, and agreeable to the method of Hoffman, by giving several times during the intermission, from half a dram to a dram of the flowers in powder, have cured intermittent fevers. I have found however that the flowers were attended with this inconvenience, that, given in a large quantity, they readily run off by stool, defeating thereby the purpose of preventing the return of paroxysms; and Ihave found, indeed, that without joining with them an opiate, or an astringent, I could not commonly employ them." [M. M. vol. ii. p. 79.]
These flowers have been found useful in hysterical affections, flatulent or spasmodic colics, and dysentery, but from their laxative quality, Dr. Cullen tells us, they proved hurtful in diarrhoeas. A simple watery infusion of them is frequently taken, in a tepid state, for the purpose of exciting vomiting or for promoting the operation of emetics. Externally the flowers are used in the decoctum pro somento, and they are an ingredient in the decoctum pro enemate.
Medical Botany, 1790-1794, was written by William Woodville, M. D., and illustrated by James Sowerby.