Chamomile is one of those herbs that I was unimpressed with upon first beginning my herbal education. It was so common and to me, seemed ineffective. I thought that anything that was served in Starbucks was not potent or effective and not an herb that I wanted in my practice. This was until I had "the chamomile experience".
In my first year of herb school I tasted and tried many many herbs while learning and when the time came for chamomile, I was surprised (but shouldn't have been surprised) to find that the proper dosage for chamomile is much much higher than what you might experience at Starbucks or at home. It is also BITTER. Not only was the taste very different than I had known, I felt a wonderfully enjoyable sense of calm. My instructor shared that they love when students have "the chamomile experience". Michael Tierra describes proper chamomile dosing as "everything in the day just seems to go right". I most certainly agree.
Dosage is very important for therapeutic effects. Most of the time, I see people are not taking enough of an herb or formula to see effects, or making tea that is too weak to be therapeutic. (Hint: therapeutic teas can taste STRONG and are not what you might be aiming for under other circumstances)
There are many herbs however, with very low therapeutic dosages. Lobelia is a wonderful herb for certain types of asthma and muscle spasms or seizures but can be emetic (causing vomiting) at higher doses. Calamus is another "drug-like" herb that is taken at very low doses if taken internally at all. Chamomile should not be taken in heavy doses in the first trimester of pregnancy and, as always, ask me if chamomile is right for you.
So dosage matters! And enjoy your chamomile a bit stronger next time and see what you think!
How to Infuse A Proper Cup of Chamomile
When making chamomile at home, it is important to practice an "infusion" technique. Chamomile is a delicate herb with volatile oils that can escape through steam or boiling. To infuse chamomile, pour 1oz of chamomile flowers (roughly 1 large handful) into a container with a lid. I find canning jars to be most suitable for this. Boil 1 pint of water and pour over the flowers. Immediately cover and let sit for 15-20 minutes or until cooled enough to drink. Strain the infusion, drink 1-2 cups, sit back, and enjoy your chamomile experience.