Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Chamomile is a great little herb to keep on hand at home. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years, mostly in Europe, with notations being recorded as early as 5th Century BC.
I love Chamomile not only for how effective it is clinically, but also it is a lovely safe herb, and one that can be used for children's health complaints.
Studies have shown that chamomile is particularly good for digestive upsets such as irritable bowel syndrome, colic/gripe in babies, as well as inflammation of the mouth/gums.
When cooled, chamomile tea makes an effective eyewash for conjunctivitis and dry/inflamed eyes, and you can also use it as a mouthwash to for ulcers or sore gums (see below).
How to make a herbal tea (properly!):
It is important to take your time with herbal teas - they are a bit different from black/green tea, and need a little extra care during preparation, if you are to obtain all the 'good stuff'!
Steep a teabag in hot water for at least 5 minutes, (preferably 10). Always cover your cup/pot with a saucer or lid, and at the end of steeping, tip the droplets back into the tea, as some active constituents will have evaporated during the steeping. Strain the tea and drink - herbal teas don't require milk, however you can sweeten with a little honey or stevia (a natural sugar-free sweetener) if you like.
To use the tea as an eye or mouthwash - cool the tea and then store in a clean container in the fridge for up to 24 hours. To use as an eyewash, dip a clean cotton wool square in the cooled tea and wipe the eyes, replacing with a fresh square each time you need to wipe.