1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chamomile

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CHAMOMILE, or Camomile Flowers, the flora anthemidis of the British Pharmacopoeia, the flower-heads of Anthemis nobilis (Nat. Ord. Compositae), a herb indigenous to England and western Europe. It is cultivated for medicinal purposes in Surrey, at several places in Saxony, and in France and Belgium, — that grown in England being much more valuable than any of the foreign chamomiles brought into the market. In the wild plant the florets of the ray are ligulate and white, and contain pistils only, those of the disk being tubular and yellow; but under cultivation the whole of the florets tend to become ligulate and white, in which state the flower-heads are said to be double. The flower-heads have a warm aromatic odour, which is characteristic of the entire plant, and a very bitter taste. In addition to a bitter extractive principle, they yield about 2% of a volatile liquid, which on its first extraction is of a pale blue colour, but becomes a yellowish brown on exposure to light. It has the characteristic odour of the flowers, and consists of a mixture of butyl and amyl angelates and valerates. Angelate of potassium has been obtained by treatment of the oil with caustic potash, and angelic acid may be isolated from this by treatment with dilute sulphuric acid. Chamomile is used in medicine in the form of its volatile oil, of which the dose is ½-3 minims. There is an official extract which is never used. Like all volatile oils the drug is a stomachic and carminative. In large doses the infusion is a simple emetic.

Wild chamomile is Matricaria Chamomilla, a weed common in waste and cultivated ground especially in the southern counties of England. It has somewhat the appearance of true chamomile, but a fainter scent.