C for chamomile

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There is nothing more therapeutic than a steaming cup of fragrant chamomile tea at the end of a long, tiring day. It soothes the nerves, warms the insides and induces a peaceful mood. A bit of research about this valuable herb reveals much about its many medicinal properties; civilisations have been using it to heal various ailments for thousands of years and it seems like a good idea to follow their example.

A study undertaken at the Imperial College in London asked 14 volunteers to drink five cups of chamomile tea daily for two weeks. Researchers found that drinking the tea caused increased urinary levels of hippurate, and phenolics of which have been associated with increased antibacterial activity. These results help explain why chamomile tea drinkers have a stronger immune system, which helps fight colds and infections and produces an altogether healthy body.

Chamomile or gul-i-baboona as it is called in Urdu, is a herb that comes from the daisy family. One can find it in its processed form as an off-thecounter product in almost any standard supermarket or in its purest form from herbal traders. The active ingredient in chamomile tea as well as its essential oil is bisabolol which contains anti-inflammatory qualities.

To begin with, chamomile is a known and acknowledged sleep aid. Doctors, homeopaths and yoga instructors alike advocate a cup of chamomile tea, usually flavoured with honey and lemon at least 30 to 45 minutes before going to bed. This is because chamomile contains a flavonoid called ‘Chrysin’ which helps put you to sleep by relieving anxiety and calming those nerves so that you can slip into a peaceful slumber. This routine also helps reduce the occurrence of migraines.

Moreover, a teaspoon of pure, unadulterated chamomile in two or three cups of boiling water is an ideal home remedy for stomach problems; including pre-menstrual cramps, goes a long way in reducing cramps, irritable bowels and bloating.

But chamomile is not just good for our internal bodily functions; our skin likes it too. This herb is kind enough not just to help alleviate the problems of insomniacs, but also helps get rid of the traces of sleep deprivation. A neat home remedy to get rid of eye fatigue and shadows under your eyes involves putting two chamomile tea bags in warm water for five to 10 minutes. After removing and cooling them down to room temperature, putting these bags on your eyes has an effect of removing those unwanted under-eye circles. Moreover, a regular routine of steaming your face with boiling water with chamomile teabags also helps lighten your overall skin tone, leaving you fresher, fairer and glowing.

However, while applauding all the healing powers of this unassuming herb, caution must be exercised because it does not suit all who consume it. Individuals who may be allergic to ragweed pollen should avoid using chamomile as it may cause allergic reactions and cause more harm than good. Also, pregnant women should avoid the tea altogether because it increases the chances of a miscarriage. Chamomile also contains ‘coumarin’, a blood thinner and therefore care should be taken in this regard.

“I’m in no way interested in immortality; but only the taste of tea,” said Lu T’ung. Carrying forward with this assessment, I think a taste of chamomile in a beautiful porcelain tea cup with a dollop of honey and a drop of lemon is probably not going to lead to everlasting life, but it is certainly going to make life worthwhile. So go ahead and buy a box of chamomile and enjoy!

Credit to: epaper.dawn.com & Shazaf Fatima Haide

Image Credit to: epaper.dawn.com

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