I began to dip my toe in the world of herbalism a few years ago, I was working in a wholefood café and studying Naturopathy. I began with a strong knowledge of anatomy and physiology due to prior study, the sciences made sense, anatomy is tangible.
It seemed daunting at first, learning all of the botanical names and the individual properties of herbs and flowers as well as the mechanisms and ways they work in the body as well as how each herb affects each other, it’s much more abstract.
Now herbalism feels intuitive, I feel there is a natural understanding of the properties of each herb and how to use them.
Don’t get me wrong, I still feel like I am at the beginning of my journey but I guess that feeling/fear of not understanding something to its entirety feeds the hunger for knowledge.
Chamomile is one of my favourite herbs to work with, for many reasons, I can’t ingest it due to a mind grass allergy but I can use it topically.
Chamomile grows like a weed on our local river bed so it’s easy to forage and it is from a safe and unpolluted source, it pays to be aware of where you forage from, road side plants are not a great option due to road pollution.
Chamomile is well known for its sleepy time properties, but it has so many other benefits!
It contains chamazulene (the chemical compound is named after chamomile as that is where it was first discovered), which is known for its scavenger properties, it gathers up free radicals in the body as well as reactive oxygen species (a by-product of oxygen production), if unmanageable levels of these get out of hand they contribute to cellular stress and inflammation.
Chamomile is anti-inflammatory, and has antioxidant properties, it soothes and heals the skin, reducing redness and inflammation. It can be used to relieve skin issues like eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.
There are a few ways to infuse chamomile into oil, first find a carrier oil that suits your skin, I opt for Sweet Almond Oil but MCT (medium chain triglycerides) coconut oil or olive oil are also good choices. If you’re planning to cook with it, Coconut MCT is preferred due to its stability at high heat.
I prefer the sun method of infusing, perhaps because I’m a traditionalist, I find it’s a lovely gentle process, it also enables all of the constituents of the herb to be fully released.
A clean jar
1 cup of dried herbs, if you’re unable to dry your own herbs, these can be purchased from a wholefood store, remember the herbs must be dry as moisture and oil are not friends.
500ml of oil
Place the herbs in a jar, pour over the oil and shake gently, this removes any air bubbles and ensures the herbs are fully covered.
Cover the jar with a Lilybee and leave in a sunny spot for 3 weeks.
Strain the oil through a muslin cloth or coffee filter, label and date.
If you’re wanting to speed up the process you can use a slow cooker, add the herbs and oil and set on low, allow too steep overnight before straining.