Origin: Middle East
Improvement status: Cultivated wild material
Seeds per packet: ~200
Germination tested 12/2022: 50%
Life cycle: Annual
German Chamomile is the beloved daisy family herb most famous as sleep-inducing tea (along with its diminutive cousin "Roman Chamomile"), but sleep-aid is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to chamomile's medicinal properties. This species is sometimes called "Blue Chamomile," but you'd never guess why until you isolate the essential oil, which is a vivid blue (flowers are up to 1.6% essential oil).
According to Mount Sinai Hospital, German Chamomile has a long history of use for the following ailments: "chest colds, sore throats, abscesses, gum inflammation (gingivitis), anxiety, insomnia, psoriasis, acne, eczema, minor first-degree burns, inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis), stomach ulcers, and children's conditions such as chickenpox, diaper rash, and colic."
Mount Sinai also has this to say about its use in the modern pharmacopeia: "Animal studies have shown that German chamomile reduces inflammation, speeds wound healing, reduces muscle spasms, and serves as a mild sedative to help with sleep. Few studies have investigated whether the same is true in people. Test tube studies have shown that chamomile can kill bacteria, fungus, and viruses... Most people in the U.S. who take chamomile use it to relieve anxiety or help them sleep. So far there has been only one controlled, randomized clinical trial using chamomile to treat anxiety in people. It found that chamomile capsules reduced symptoms of anxiety in people with mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Animal studies have found that low doses of chamomile may relieve anxiety, while higher doses help sleep... Chamomile has been used traditionally to treat stomach cramps, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indigestion, diarrhea, gas, and colic. It helps relax muscle contractions, particularly in the smooth muscles that make up the intestines."
German Chamomile is easy to grow in a sunny, well-drained location. In hotter climates, some afternoon shade is appreciated. While it's not a perennial like its Roman cousin, annual German chamomile will readily re-seed, so you might just start to think of it as a perennial! When sown rather thickly, it produces abundant sprays of little daisy-like flowers, up to 18" high. Our seed comes from the good folks at Restoration Seeds in Oregon.