Chamomile, or ‘Camomila’ is another one of Menorca’s wild plants that thrive abundantly in the month of June. You can usually smell it before you can see it, but this month the little yellow buds start to bloom and you can find Menorca’s coastal landscape adorned with shrubs of chamomile.
Like capers, chamomile must be cut and harvested at exactly the right time to make the most of its incredible potency and healing powers. Locals say that the right time conveniently coincides with the start of the Sant Joan Fiestas in Ciutadella, on the day of the sheep ‘Es Día des Be’ in mid-June. When the plant is in full bloom and bright yellow before the colour starts to fade, this is the time to harvest.
The way we prune the plant is to cut as much as we need evenly around the shrub, cutting storks of about 12 – 15 cm in length then tying them up into small handful bunches to dry out and use all year long.
The smell is incredible.
I have to admit that like Capers, I was never much of a fan of chamomile in any form before I moved to Menorca. But the flavour of wild chamomile is quite different to the processed teas I know of, and the internal and external benefits of Menorcan chamomile really do make it a miracle medicine of nature.
I now use it in many ways, especially for my delicate sensitive skin it does wonders to soothe it.
Dried Menorcan Chamomile is sold all over the island, in all the health food stores and many pharmacies too. This way the natural wild plants are protected for regeneration each year, and consumers can buy the plant ready to use.
Here are some of the various ways you can use dried chamomile, unlocking its therapeutic benefits to enhance your well-being.
One of the most popular and soothing ways to use dried chamomile is by brewing it into a fragrant and comforting tea. Packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, chamomile tea can promote relaxation, aid digestion, and improve sleep quality. Simply steep a tablespoon of dried chamomile flowers in hot water for 5-10 minutes, strain, and enjoy the therapeutic infusion.
An Ayurvedic Twist to Your Tea
I personally add a few chamomile stalks to the traditional Ayurvedic Digestive Tea which consists of boiling 1 tsp Cumin Seeds, 1 tsp Fennel Seed, 1 tsp coriander Seed and 1 litre of water. I also like to add some fresh ginger if I have it and 1tsp of fenugreek seeds. Boil for 10 minutes then let it steep for another 10 and strain. Tea can be made in batches and kept in the fridge to drink cold or heated up, depending o the time of year.
Chamomile Tonic for the Skin
The most miraculous way I have used dried chamomile is to cool the ‘tea’ to use as a soothing skin tonic. It can be kept in the fridge in a cup or small glass bottle for a week or more, and is amazing to soothe sunburn, inflamed acne, itchy skin, and insect bites and can even instantly calm allergic reactions.
A few years back we had some friends over for lunch and one of the children had an allergic reaction that quickly converted into a rash on his arms, we boiled some Menorcan chamomile in a small amount of water for 5 minutes, then let it steep for another 5 minutes to create a concentrated tonic. We cooled it down by adding cold water from the fridge and applied it to his arms with flannels. Within 15 minutes the swelling had subsided, the redness greatly reduced and the itchiness had totally disappeared! Incredible!
This one, like the tea, is more for the winter months. Indulge in a luxurious and rejuvenating chamomile-infused bath to soothe both body and mind at once. Place a large handful of dried chamomile flowers in a muslin bag or directly in your bathwater and let it infuse as you soak. The gentle aroma and healing properties of chamomile can alleviate stress, soothe irritated skin, and promote a sense of tranquillity and well-being. If the tonic works wonders imagine what
Chamomile Facial Steam
Revitalize your skin with a chamomile facial steam, which can help cleanse pores, reduce inflammation, and promote a healthy complexion. Add a tablespoon of dried chamomile flowers to a bowl of steaming water, drape a towel over your head to create a steam tent, and allow the fragrant vapour to envelop your face for 5-10 minutes. Breathe deeply and let the calming properties of chamomile work their magic.
Here are a couple of other ideas to try…
Harness the healing power of chamomile by infusing it into carrier oils, such as olive or almond oil, to create a versatile concoction that can be used for various purposes. Fill a clean, glass jar with dried chamomile flowers and pour the oil over them, ensuring that the flowers are fully submerged. Allow the mixture to steep in a warm, sunny spot for several weeks, shaking the jar gently every few days. The resulting chamomile-infused oil can be used for massages, as a moisturizer, or as a gentle and soothing remedy for skin irritations.
Experience the calming and uplifting effects of chamomile through aromatherapy. Create your own chamomile-scented room spray or diffuser blend by combining a few drops of chamomile essential oil with water or a carrier oil. Inhaling the soothing aroma of chamomile can help reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve overall well-being. Alternatively, you can place dried chamomile flowers in sachets and tuck them into your pillowcase or closet to enjoy their gentle scent throughout the day.
Menorca’s wild chamomile has become known as an incredible healer offering a variety of transformative properties of this remarkable plant. It’s always best to test for yourself with a small amount on the skin or drink a sip to test your tolerance, but chamomile is usually suitable for most people and it’s well worth trying for yourself and buying a packet to take some home with you.
Some health shops also carry body care products made with chamomile so keep your eye out for those too.
If you do try it let us know in the comments below your experience with it.