Feeling frazzled and frayed?

2017 is well and truly underway, the kids are back at school, and those holidays may seem like a world away. Life is already feeling hectic, the 'to do' list is getting overwhelming, your digestion is playing up and you don’t want to feel as frazzled and frayed as you did last year.

If this is you and you’re looking for help to make life more manageable; to soothe an overworked nervous system and upset digestion then you’re in the right place. Some of the simplest, most effective tools, for helping us cope when life gets crazy, are herbs.

I’m often asked what my favourite herb is and I’d have to say chamomile each time (although I feel it’s a bit like asking a parent to choose a favourite child except maybe with the herbs I’m the child and they’re the parents). All the herbs in my dispensary are indispensible (lol) and I love them all.

Why do I love chamomile so much? She’s such a gentle yet effective herb, she soothes and relaxes both nervous and digestive systems and supplies the body with a good source of calcium and magnesium plus a number of other phytonutrients that are relaxing, antispamodic and anti-allergenic. Chamomile is gentle enough to use for children and strong enough to get good results with adults. She’s one of the most prescribed herbs in my dispensary.

There are a number of different plants called chamomile, in my practice I use Matricaria chamomilla (German Chamomile).

The plant part that's used medicinally is the flower and its protruding yellow centre is rather like a rounded, bloated belly; giving an indication of its use in settling the digestive upsets of children and adults.

When I learnt herbal medicine from Dorothy Hall, she taught about herbs as having ‘person pictures’, that is different people are suited to different herbs and for each there’s a positive person picture and a negative. The chamomile ‘person picture’ (yep, I’m one) is the person who lives all their stresses twice. The first time is when the event is happening and the second is when they’re telling the story about it to anyone who’ll listen. They also tend to dramatise the whole scenario – even though their day really might have been quite ordinary.

“You’ll never guess what happened today? I was rushing for the bus but there was a dog in the way and so I just missed it, I tried to get the driver to stop but he just kept on going and then the next one was late and then the one after that was full and so when I finally got on the bus the diver didn't have any change and….”. On and on they go, giving you a detailed description of all the happenings of the day, complete with hand gestures, facial expressions and mimicry of the voices of other characters in the story.

Of course I'm not that extreme and I like to think that I'm a positive chamomile (mostly)!

Positive chamomile still loves to get home and share their day with their family and friends but it’s a tempered and calm telling without the drama, and they can sit and enjoy their dinner and digest it well with a relaxed digestive system.

Negative chamomile finds it hard to switch off; their digestive system is crampy and uncomfortable: think of that little bloated belly that the flower centre resembles, and food doesn't digest well. The deeper the condition is, the more likely the negative chamomile is to develop ‘allergic’ responses: ranging from contact substances to food intolerances to inhaled pollens and the like. Obviously more than the odd cup of chamomile tea is needed to help improve the health and well-being of someone in this state, but it’s a good place to start while you waith for an appointment with a trained herbalist. Urging the ‘negative chamomile’ to eat when they don’t feel like it isn't a good idea. Putting food into a tense digestive system only adds to the load the body is dealing with. Give them a cup of chamomile tea instead and allow them time to settle down and relax. Then they may be ready to eat and enjoy their meal!

So, now you have a little idea of the type of person who will benefit from chamomile, some of the conditions that benefit from it are irritable bowel syndrome, colic, wind, bloating, indigestion, irritability, period cramps, teething and poor sleep. Generally, think of using chamomile for the type of digestive system that is uptight and not working well because its owner is also uptight and can’t relax. As mentioned above Chamomile is also useful for relieving the discomfort of many types of allergy: asthma, hay fever, eczema – especially where there’s nervous system involvement such as anxiety, fear, apprehension and even panic

Chamomile can be used externally as well; add a chamomile teabag to the bathwater to soothe and ease sensitive, itchy skin.

If you have small children or babies in the family, introduce them to it as a weak tea as soon as possible and you will have many occasions to thank it. And while you're making it for them, enjoy a cup of it yourself!

If you think you may need more help than just chamomile in tea, get in touch. There’s no point in suffering when gentle herbs such as chamomile and her friends are just waiting to help you,

In love and light,

Sally

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