There’s plenty going on these days to be stressed about. It seems like every day there is a new disaster looming on the horizon.
Doctors these days are quick to hand out a prescription to treat your anxiety, but that’s not always the best option.
Before you try a prescription medication like Xanax for your anxiety, look in your garden. It’s possible you already are growing a calming plant and don’t even know it.
Roman vs. German Chamomile
People have been using chamomile for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. The earliest accounts date all the way back to Egyptian times.
But interestingly enough, there are two varieties of Chamomile, both from different families but with similar properties.
More studies have been conducted about German Chamomile than Roman Chamomile, though both plants are used to treat the same symptoms.
One primary difference is in the essential oils made from the two different varieties.
Related: 14 Plants You Can Turn Into Oil
When an essential oil is made from German Chamomile flowers, it is a distinctive blue color. For this reason, German Chamomile is sometimes referred to as Blue Chamomile.
It’s possible you have chamomile growing in your garden and don’t even know it. It’s a common garden plant, and both varieties are easy to grow and establish.
Not only are they easy to grow, but they are attractive as well. Both German and Roman Chamomile feature small white flowers with yellow centers.
They look a bit like small daisies and liven up any landscape. These flowers are what are used medicinally. You may find they have a slight apple smell.
While there are similarities between the two plants, there are differences as well.
German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is a shrub-like annual that grows to about three feet tall.
It prefers to grow in full sun or partial shade, in light sandy soil with good drainage.
If you plant them in your garden leave 18 inches between plants.
They are vigorous self-seeders, so you can expect them to return once you have them established.
On the other hand, Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is a perennial plant rather than an annual.
Smaller than German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile usually is only about one foot tall. It is native to Europe and Northern Ireland and is also commonly found growing in North America.
How To Harvest
While those white flowers make a great addition to your garden, they also make a great addition to your tea.
For the most flavorful tea, it is always best to harvest in the morning after the dew is dry. More essential oils are concentrated in the flowers at this time.
Simply pinch the stem below the blossom and gently pop off the flower. You will want to choose flowers that are fully in bloom. Make sure you leave the blossoms you see. You will be able to harvest these later as they bloom.
Place your flowers in a dehydrator set to the lowest setting until they are dry.
Alternately, you can dry them on a screen in a cool, dark place.
This method takes significantly longer, so be prepared to wait 2 – 3 weeks for your flowers to dry.
Once they are dry, you can store them in a jar in a cool, dark cabinet.
You can use the flowers for up to six months, but they will lose potency over time.
Chamomile is one of my favorite herbs for a number of different ailments. It is well known for its ability to relax and calm, making it a common choice to help with anxiety and insomnia.
But chamomile calms and relaxes your body in other ways as well. It is a particularly potent calmative for your digestive tract, which makes it an excellent choice for stomach problems.
It is less well known for its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
A brew of chamomile tea is great for resolving many skin issues.
Use it on rashes, irritation, and even infections. You can wash the affected area directly with chamomile tea.
Alternately, soak a clean facecloth in the warm brew and use it as a poultice.
Chamomile is easily found in most supermarkets. Alternately you can brew your own from flowers you have harvested and dried. That way, you can be certain of the quality of your herbs.
While chamomile is considered safe enough for children, it should be avoided by pregnant women as there is a risk of miscarriage.
When I brew chamomile, I often mix it with other herbs for either flavor or for other beneficial effects. I find Chamomile and lavender is my go-to blend for anxiety.
You can adjust the amount of lavender to your taste. If you add too much, it can taste “soapy.”
Chamomile Lavender Tea
- 2 tsp dry chamomile flowers
- ¼ tsp dry lavender flowers
- 8 ounces of water
- honey to taste
- Bring 8 ounces of water to a boil
- Turn off water and let stand for one minute
- Add chamomile and lavender
- Let steep for five minutes
- Strain out the herbs
- Add honey to taste
Other Common Herbs For Anxiety
Chamomile is not the only herb you may find in your garden that can help with your anxiety. If you live in the Southeastern US, you may find Maypops (Passiflora incarnta) growing in your garden.
It is easily recognized by its showy purple flower. You can use the leaves and flowers to make either a tea or tincture to help alleviate anxiety and insomnia.
But be aware the tea is bitter, so you may want to combine it with a bit of mint and honey to make it more palatable.
Valerian is another common garden herb that is good for treating anxiety. You can take a few drops of tincture made from the roots. It should help soothe your rattled nerves quickly.
Before you go to the pharmacy, take a look in your garden. There are several common herbs that you can harvest easily to make teas and tinctures to help with your anxiety.
Chamomile is a common garden herb that can help alleviate your anxiety. It is easy to grow, and once you have it established in your garden, you will find it returns to bless you year after year. Not only can chamomile tea help you relax and sleep better, but it can also help with stomach ailments and skin conditions.
If you are not a fan of chamomile, both Maypop and Valerian are also plants that can help treat insomnia. While Maypop only grows in warmer climates, valerian is considered an invasive weed in some areas.
If you don’t already have these plants growing in your garden, hurry up and get some. Those natural remedies will have you relaxed and smiling in no time.