"The flower-heads of Anthemis nobilis, Linné, collected from cultivated plants"—(U. S. P.).
COMMON NAMES AND SYNONYMS: Chamomile, Roman chamomile, Anthemidis flores, English chamomile, Flores chamomillae Romanae.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 154.
Botanical Source.—This is a perennial herb, with a strong root, having long fibers. The stems, in a wild state, are prostrate, but more upright when cultivated in gardens. They are about a span long, round, hollow, furrowed, downy, leafy, and branched. The leaves are doubly pinnate, sessile, and pale-green' in color, having small, thread-shaped leaflets., which are rather flat or channeled above, convex beneath, somewhat downy, acute, and commonly trilobed. The flower-heads are terminal and solitary, with ligulate, white, ray-florets, and a yellow center of tubular florets.
History and Chemical Composition.—Chamomile is indigenous to Southern Europe, where it is cultivated for the purposes of medicine, and gathered and quickly dried by artificial heat. There are two varieties, the single and the double, of which the former is the best, the latter being commonly the result of cultivation. The white flowers are the best; they have an aromatic, agreeably bitter taste, a strong and peculiar odor, and yield by distillation 0.45 per cent of a volatile oil of a pale- blue color at first, but gradually becoming brownish or yellowish (Oleum Anthemidis). Their aromatic and stimulant properties are due to this oil and a resin; their tonic to bitter extractive and tannic acid. They also contain chlorophyll, albumen, extractive, gum, salts, fat, and glucose. Camboulises (1871) obtained quercitrin, a yellow, coloring matter, when boiling the ether extract of the drug with water, and allowing it to cool. The filtrate yielded to ether a crystallizable, bitter principle, which Camboulises thought identical with anthemic acid, supposed to have been obtained by Pattone in 1859 from Anthemis arvensis. No alkaloid was found in the drug. A fixed oil may be obtained from the seeds by expression. The flowers yield their properties to water or alcohol. The wild flowers are seldom met with in commerce, and the darker grades of flowers, probably gathered in bad weather, bring a lower price.
Description.—The flower-heads are rather larger than a daisy, with a convex, yellow disk and numerous white, spreading, or reflexed rays. The involucre has small, shining, membranous-bordered scales, rather downy. The receptacle is obtusely conical, with minute, chaffy scales, which do not appear until the disk-florets are turned to one side; the innermost are gradually narrowest. The ray-florets are white, strap-shaped, and tridentate; about eighteen in number when wild (usually in a single row), but when cultivated may be more numerous, the disk-florets often taking on a ligulate form and becoming white. The disk-florets are yellow, many, tubular, and consist of five segments. The stamens are five in number, the ovary obovate, the style slender, and the stigma two-cleft and reflexed. The ovate seeds are flat.
The flowers directed by the Pharmacopoeia are those of the cultivated plant, and are thus described in that work: "Heads subglobular, about 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) broad, consisting of an imbricated involucre, and numerous white, strap-shaped, three-toothed florets, and few or no yellow, tubular disk-florets, inserted upon a chaffy, conical, solid receptacle. It has a strong, agreeable odor, and an aromatic, bitter taste"—(U. S. P.).
Admixtures.—The flower-heads of Matricaria Chamomilla, Linné (German chamomile); Maruta Cotula, DeCandolle (Mayweed); Achillea Ptarmica, Linné (Sneezewort); Pyrethrum Parthenium, Linné (Feverfew); Anthemis arvensis, Linné (Corn chamomile), and of other species of compositae are sometimes admixed with chamomile flowers as adulterants. The double flowers of Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) may be determined from the double flowers of Feverfew (Pyrethrum Parthenium) by the following characters: A. nobilis flowers have a peculiar and pleasantly aromatic odor; the involucre is nearly flat, and composed of a number of spreading, nearly equal, overlapping bracts, with broadly and evidently membranous margins; when the florets are removed, the receptacle is observed to be a solid, conical body, more or less pointed at the apex, and the scales on it are thin, concave, blunt-pointed, or obtuse, more numerous, more closely compacted, and more membranous than those of P. Parthenium. The flowers of P. Parthenium are less double than those of A. nobilis, have a strong, peculiar, and more or less unpleasant odor; the involucre is convex, and composed of a number of nearly equal, imbricated, concave bracts, which are bent inward above, and each having a prominent ridge on its dorsal surface; when the florets are removed the receptacle is observed to be slightly convex or nearly flat, and rounded above, and the scales on it are lanceolate, acute-pointed, less in number than those of A. nobilis, and less membranous.
The Common, or Wild chamomile, German chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla), is usually with single flowers, which have a strong, peculiar, unpleasant odor, a convex involucre, composed of nearly equal, obtuse-pointed bracts, not distinctly membranous at their margins, and the receptacle is hollow, broadly conical, or nearly cylindrical in shape, naked, or without any scales.
The flowers of the Achillea Ptarmica have rounder rays, much shorter than those of A. nobilis, and are odorless, but have a harsh, acrid taste.
Maruta Cotula may be known by its disagreeable odor, which differs from that of chamomile, while the Anthemis arvensis is without odor. The former has an almost cylindrical receptacle, studded with slender, permanent scales.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—In doses of from 1/2 drachm to 2 drachms of the flowers, or from 1 to 3 fluid ounces of their infusion (℥ss to aqua Oj), chamomile is a tonic: from 5 to 12 fluid ounces of a warm, strong infusion usually vomits. The cold infusion has proved useful in dyspepsia, weak digestion, and in all cases of weak or irritable stomach, as well as in obstinate gastro-intestinal irritation; also in intermittent and typhus. The oil is carminative and antispasmodic. Used in flatulency, colic, cramp in the stomach, hysteria, nervous diseases, and painful dysmenorrhoea. Colds, when due to sudden checking of the cutaneous secretions, are quickly relieved by anthemis, as are also recent cases of rheumatism and neuralgia, brought on in the same manner. In amenorrhoea from cold immerse the feet in mustard water, and after putting the woman to bed, give freely of the warm infusion. Dose of the oil, 5 to 15 drops on sugar; specific anthemis, 1 to 5 drops. The flowers of the Matricaria Chamomilla (see Matricaria) possess similar properties to the anthemis. A poultice of chamomile flowers is said to prevent gangrene and to remove it when present.
Specific Indications and Uses.—Gastro-intestinal debility; flatus; dysmenorrhoea from cold; malarial affections. A tonic and antispasmodic.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.