The small daisy-like flowers of chamomile – called “Ground Apple” by the ancient Greeks because of their smell – are most noted for their calming, relaxing effects on both the digestion and the nerves. Chamomile, though, has a wide range of actions in the body… it is well documented as having anti-inflammatory activity and is also beneficial in reducing allergic responses as it contains a number of anti-histamine chemicals. In addition, it is recognised as being ulcer-protective through its healing effect on the mucosa of the gastro-intestinal tract.
Chamomile can be especially helpful for the tense, restless horse prone to nervous colic and scouring. Indeed, it has an affinity for relieving digestive tract and organ spasm and pain (more so than the muscle aches and pains associated with physical exertion). It supports the body’s skeletal structure through its calcium phosphate content, and in the case of skin allergies it can be applied externally (as a ‘tea’ rinse) to help reduce itching and irritation. Chamomile is mildly anti-microbial, assisting the body to destroy or resist pathogenic (disease-causing) micro-organisms.
Interestingly, bunches of chamomile were once consistently hung in stables to deter flies.
NOTE: Occasional hypersensitive reactions have been observed in the human population (amonst those who are allergic to members of the ragweed family), however this type of sensitivity is extremely rare.