This month I decided to go on a plant “dieta”. Usually powerful hallucinogenic herbs are chosen for this process. But if one is only wanting to clear unwanted habits, toxins , wastes and energetic stagnation then any Master Plant can be chosen and the journey a “social” one. A dieta can culminate in a group ceremony , be done under supervision or it can be a very private experience. There are weeks of preparation to cleanse and purify the body using the elements in the form of smoke, clay, and ceremonial bathing. Participants gradually remove various foods, artificial fragrances, distractions and stumulants from the diet. There is a period of strict fasting. More attention is paid to sleep , slowing down life, changing bad habits, restricting time on screens. It is a good time to evaluate what you “consume” and does with your precious time. There is a period of seclusion/retreat where in a state of deep meditation/contemplation/prayer one seeks guidance and knowledge from the plant spirit. As an herbalist it is a great time to learn more about and connect deeply with a particular herb though dreams, playng music, studies, journaling, and detailed illustrations. A deep and healing relationship can happen through use of infusions, oil massage, baths, flower remedies, and tinctures. Homeopathy, microdoses and external use should be considered for plants that are toxic or have contraindications. I chose Chamomile because it can be used as medicine in so many different forms and because I have access to it growing in the garden right now. There are many herbalists who believe that one plant alone, when used in a special way ,can heal any illness, Be it physical, mental, or spiritual/energetic. A plant dieta can be a powerful way to transform on all of these levels.
German Chamomile. Is an annual. Latin Name -Matricaria recutia/chamomilla. Family-Aster. Sub Family-Anthemideae (aromatic members of the aster family). Like all asters, this plant is missing the green sepals. Instead it has translucent bracts (modified leaves) surrounding the flower head. Numerous tiny five petaled disc flowers fill the yellow round center which is surrounded by a ring of white single petaled ray flowers. Similar to a daisy but much smaller in size and different leaves. Each flower sits a top a short stalk attached to a long leggy stem ( may grow to 24 inches) which has numerous blooms. The alternate leaves are brilliant green, fine, and feathery. Chamomile has a sweet pleasant aroma, almost like apples. Roman chamomile is similar in appearance but shorter and often a ground cover. In the garden this plant prefers any kind of soil, regular watering and full sun for best growth. This cultivar sometimes escapes to be found in pavement cracks or an empty urban lot. Self seeds and spreads easily under the right conditions. Not to be confused with pineapple weed which can be found growing “wild” in many places.
Chamomile contains several volatile oils and constituents that assist the recovery and health of skin or mucous membranes. Studies show that this herb is anti-microbial specifically for candida, staph, strep, e. coli and fugal infections. Compresses, lotions, salves, washes, douches and gargles have been used externally to cool and speed the healing of burns, eczema, acne, dermatitis, insect bites, psoriasis, cracked nipples, bleeding gums, toothache and eye infections. The flowers have a long history of being used in hair products like dye, shampoo and rinses. They have also been used to flavor food, drinks and scent incense, massage oil or dream pillows. Matricaria reduces inflammation, clearing toxins and heat. Herbalists like chamomile as a sedative for insomnia and anxiety. It is very well suited for restless, nervous and hyperactive kids. A weak tea can support cranky, teething, and colicky babies or reduce nightmares and bedwetting in children. A study shows that this herb acts on the smooth muscle of the intestines and uterus, helping them relax and stop spasming/cramping. The flowers of this plant have been used to treat ulcers, gas, heartburn, morning sickness, IBS, indigestion, diarrhea and other digestive upsets. Herbalists use this plant for menstrual pain and migraines related to PMS/hormone shifts. It is thought that chamomile can reduce the pain of rheumatism, sciatica, and lumbago. Inhaling the stream from an infusion clears phlegm and may reduce the symptoms of asthma.
Energetics: Bitter, sweet, moist, neutral.
Contraindications-avoid large doses in pregnancy. Do not use if you are allergic to ragweed or other members of the daisy/aster family.