Chamomile was originally called ‘Ground Apple’ by the ancient Greeks because it smells quite similar to apples. There are many different varieties of chamomile. The Roman (C. nobile) and German chamomile (C. recutita) are the two species used medicinally and have virtually the same properties and applications.
Chamomile is traditionally used for its sedative properties. (I know some riders who share a cup of chamomile tea with their horses.) Chamomile is also used as an external healing agent for inflamed skin conditions such as sweet itch or dermatitis. It has an anti-inflammatory, analgesic action and is useful for arthritis and other aches and pains.
Chamomile can be made into a compress for a mare with mastitis. The ability of chamomile to settle gut spasm is well documented and useful for the treatment of horses where digestive disturbance is evident such as flatulence or colic. It is often used with other soothing herbs to help support digestive problems.
Chamomile can be bought as an essential oil, which can be diluted and used externally for skin complaints, but an infusing of fresh or dried Chamomile is suitable as well. Chamomile is also available as a homoeopathic remedy.
Always introduce herbs gradually and watch for any allergic reactions.