Matricaria chamomilla (German Chamomile) has long been used to treat menstrual cramps. In fact, Matricaria comes from the Latin word for womb (matriz). It is an herb that didn’t originate in Mexico but has become a fast favorite since it was brought from Europe by the Spanish in the 1500s.
In Spanish, manzana means “apple,” so it’s only natural that chamomile (which also means apple), is called “little apple” in Mexico, not for its appearance but its apple-like scent.
Manzanilla is digestive, sedative, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic. Breast pain associated with premenstrual syndrome (mastalgia) has been effectively treated with regular doses of chamomile extract. To make a traditional Mexican PMS tea, use 10 grams of manzanilla (flowers and leaves) for every half liter 3 times a day as needed.
Matricaria chamomilla has antifungal properties as well. To treat a yeast infection in the Mexican way, use 20 grams of flowers for every half liter of water for a vaginal wash. Allow to the infusion to steep for 15 minutes before use.
Manzanilla is given to laboring mothers as well as prescribed after delivery in Mexico. Some midwives (parteras) use an ointment from manzanilla leaves and onions fried in manteca (lard) to lessen labor pains. For postpartum discomfort, an infusion of canela (cinnamon) rosa de castilla (Rosa gallica) and manzanilla is made from equal parts of each herb.
Studies have shown that manzanilla has been helpful for women in returning to regular digestive patterns after a cesarean section. It has also been used successfully to treat parasitic infections of the stomach.
Manzanilla is often used to treat eye infections. To make an eyewash, add a pinch of salt before boiling the herb. Make sure the infusion is freshly made for each application. Although care should be taken with topical application. Some people have a sensitivity to manzanilla on the skin. Applying it to the skin may cause a rash or allergic reaction.
Colicky babies are often given a weak tea made with manzanilla in Mexico. Young children are given manzanilla to help with dehydration caused by diarrhea. The Tzeltal Maya of Chiapas, Mexico make a manzanilla tea with an orange and lime leaf added to improve the drinker’s mood.
Additionally, it has anticancer properties and can be used in the treatment of lung cancer. The chamomile flower heads and leaves have antioxidant properties. This pretty little flower has been shown to be memory enhancing and useful in the prevention of cell death in the hippocampal region of the brain too.
Apparently, regular ingestion of manzanilla will help you live longer if you a woman according to one study, so bottoms up ladies.
The mood enhancing tea recipe, with manzanilla, orange and lime leaf, sounded so delicious, I decided to make my own cup. And it was.
Interested in natural remedies? Uncover herbal remedies from traditional Mexican sources for healing and wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.