In late July, my husband Ben and I spent some time at my parents’ house in West Sussex and on an evening walk we stumbled across huge swathes of wild chamomile growing by the footpath. We returned the next day with a big bag and gathered as much as we could; at home we carefully dried it and now we have a beautiful organic abundance to see us through the year.
Chamomile is a powerful yet gentle nervine, helping relax the nervous system, calm the senses, and activate our parasympathetic nervous system – the “rest and digest: relaxation mode of calm alertness that modern fight of flight life leaves increasingly unavailable to us. Used both orally and topically, it helps promote deep relaxation and a sense of calm and peace. Our easiest way to use it is in tea before bed, but it has many other uses besides.
I have recently become a great lover of facial steams. It started with a cold that was difficult to shift; combined with my love of aromatherapy, I find great presence and cleansing in them, both for the sinuses and the skin. Only recently I thought to add fresh whole flowers alongside essential oils and the result was so beautiful – a divine ritual to open the pores, reset the mind and take a moment to leave the day and its stresses behind. Here, I have used heart-opening rose petals with the wild chamomile: it’s a wonderfully feminine combination and the mildness of the chamomile combines perfectly with the fragrant aroma of the rose. I have added rose otto oil for an extra floral layer but it works just as well with the flowers alone.
1 medium/large heatproof bowl
1 small handful dried chamomile flowers
1 small handful dried rose petals
2 drops rose otto essential oil
Place the flowers in the bowl and set on a table at a comfortable height so that you can sit over it with ease. Fill the bowl to half full with boiling water, allowing the flowers to steep for five or so minutes. Add the essential oil if you are using it, then cover you head with a towel or large shawl and inhale the steam for as long as you feel. Ten minutes is usually sufficient. Gently cleanse your face afterwards and moisturise as usual.
Xochi Balfour is a holistic wellness author and trainee naturopathic nutritionist. She is the founder of The Naturalista. This recipe is exclusive to SPA.Kitchen, but you can find more of her beauteous creations in her gorgeous book, The Naturalista. Read our review and find it here