This section is from the book "Botanic Drugs Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics", by Thomas S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: Botanic Drugs, Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Matricaria, German Chamomile, Matricaria Chamomilla. Official in sixteen national standards, and its volatile oil in the Italian and Swiss Pharmacopeias.
In the U. S. P. VIII the "average dose" of an-themis, or English chamomile, is stated as 30 grains; but matricaria is given as 240 grains - eight times as much. Yet the text-books give their actions as the same. Eclectic literature gives the maximum doses of matricaria as one-third that of anthemis.
Now, anthemis yields by distillation 0.45 per cent of a volatile oil, to which the aromatic and stimulant properties of the drug are due. Matricaria yields a similar oil in just the same amount; but, comparatively, less anthemis will induce emesis, matricaria being emetic only in very large doses. Neither drug should be employed for its emetic properties, and the comparative strengths of the two should not be judged, nor the doses adjusted, on a basis of the emetic dosage.
Anthemis and matricaria are alike in action, except that the bitter principle of the former is emetic in full dosage.
The volatile oil, found in both plants, has the power of reducing reflex excitability in frogs, even after its excitation by strychnine (Wilcox). The bitter and tonic properties are similar to those of the bitters generally. See "Gentian." Matricaria is preferable to anthemis because full doses are not nauseating.
Fomentations of the crude drug are much used in domestic practice as a soothing application in sprains, bruises, abscesses, etc., and it serves well in this connection.
The infusion and decoction are mildly stimulant and tonic, but chamomilla is inferior to other bitters in this indication; but it is an effective diaphoretic in the form of hot "tea," more especially in the exanthems of children. It is largely employed to "bring out the rash" of measles. The hot infusion in full dosage is quite effective in dysmenorrhea, especially the non-obstructive type. Indeed, this agent is often more effective than valerian - certainly it is more agreeable - in the uterine reflex disturbances of women. A good fl. serves quite as well as does the infusion in this class of troubles; but 10- to 15-drop doses must be given.
In somewhat smaller doses of the fl. (5 to 10 drops), it tends to relieve the nervous irritation and false pains of the later months of gestation. Some cases of nervous dyspepsia and the "sick headache" of the menstrual period are much relieved by chamomilla. It seems to be an effective nervine and mild antispasmodic adapted to the neurotic type of women. The drug is harmless and more effective than most physicians think here in America; but in Europe it has been long esteemed in this connection. As is to be expected, it is not effective when organic disease is present; but in minor functional disturbances it fills a really useful place. It cooperates well with aconite and mild cholagogues. In infantile diseases, especially when the child is irritable from teething or colic, it is a most kindly-acting remedy in small doses; and, in connection with bismuth and alkalies, serves a useful place in acid diarrhea. Some cases of whooping cough are favorably influenced, but the dose must be fairly large. Doses for children range from 1 to 5 drops fl., and 10 drops in whooping cough.