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Matricaria recutita or German chamomile, also spelled camomile, is an annual plant of the composite family Asteraceae. Synonyms are: Chamomilla chamomilla, Chamomilla recutita (accepted name according to the Flora Europaea), Matricaria chamomilla, and Matricaria suaveolens.
Chamomile is used medicinally against sore stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a gentle sleep aid. It is also used as a mild laxative. It can be taken as a herbal tea, two teaspoons of dried flower per cup of tea. For a sore stomach, some recommend taking a cup every morning without food for two to three months. It is also used as a mouthwash against oral mucositis. It has acaricidal properties against certain mites, such as Psoroptes cuniculi. The primary known active ingredient of the essential oil from German chamomile is the terpene bisabolol. Other active ingredients include chamazulene, flavonoids (including apigenin, quercetin, patuletin and luteolin) and coumarin.
A 2006 review of the medical literature reported a number of beneficial effects for chamomile in in vitro and animal tests, but added that more human clinical trials are needed before firm conclusions can be drawn. Research with animals suggests antispasmodic, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory and some antimutagenic and cholesterol-lowering effects for chamomile. Chamomile has sped healing time of wounds in animals. It also showed some benefit in an animal model of diabetes. In vitro chamomile has demonstrated moderate antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and significant antiplatelet activity, as well as preliminary results against cancer. Essential oil of chamomile was shown to be a promising antiviral agent against herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) in vitro.
Chamomile is also used cosmetically, primarily to make a rinse for blonde hair.