The herb chamomile has been used for its healing properties for thousands of years - in fact the use of chamomile can be traced back to Egyptian times.
The Egyptians believed it had cooling abilities, and used it to cure fevers. It was also used to sooth nervous complaints, and in shampoos, cosmetics and perfumes.
These days, herbalists mainly use one of two European types, German, or Roman chamomile. The Roman variety is found in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Morocco and France. It is a small perennial herb, with a hairy stem and feathery leaves, and grows daisy like white flowers. It grows to a height of about 25 cm.
The German type is mostly cultivated in Hungary, Egypt, Eastern Europe and France. It is the bigger variety, growing up to 60 cm high. It has a hairless branching stem, with delicate feathery leaves and small white flowers, rather like those on a daisy.
Its uses in Aromatherapy are many and varied. The essential oil is believed to be calming, relaxing and rejuvenating, and an 'aid to creativity'.
The list of complaints it can be used to treat are extensive - for example in Central America it is widely used for stomach problems such as vomiting and
diarrhoea, while in Spain it is widely (and effectively) used to treat conjunctivitis (pink eye) in children.