What are the health benefits of chamomile
Chamomile is a flowering plant that has a whole host of medicinal uses. The two most common species are - German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile; Anthemis nobilis). The dried flowers of the chamomile plant, which look very much like daisies, have been used for thousands of years and contain terpenoids and flavonoids, 1the active molecules that confer its beneficial properties. It is one of the most ancient therapeutic herbs known to mankind.
This versatile plant is used in beauty products, aromatherapy, sprays, drops, and in herbal tea; which is probably the most popular form of chamomile. For many people a cup of chamomile tea is very much part of their evening wind-down routine and it is thought it can promote restful sleep.
Chamomile is used for a huge number of ailments including:
To name just a few. It has many uses and is widely available, but you may be wondering what camomile products might be able to help you with. In this article we aim to delve a little deeper into the world of chamomile and find out more about its many uses.
How can camomile help me?
It may help you sleep
Chamomile tea is synonymous with getting a good nights’ sleep, and for many people a cup of chamomile tea is very much part of their evening wind-down routine. Prepared by steeping the dried flowers in hot water, or opting for a chamomile tea bag, chamomile tea has long been used as a remedy for insomnia and is widely thought to gently induce sleep. The flavonoids apigenin is thought to be the main molecule responsible for the sedative and tranquiliser effect 2. Apigenin has been shown in vitro studies to bind to the receptors in the brain responsible for sleep 3. Unfortunately, very few studies have looked so far at the role of chamomile on improving sleep quality. Although results are promising, these studies were small and more research is needed (4, 5. Whilst the research into sleep and chamomile is on-going, anecdotal evidence suggests that it does indeed have relaxing effects.
If you’re having trouble sleeping we have some tips and techniques that may help you get more restful sleep.
It may help with anxiety and depression
Chamomile aqueous extract (such as tea) or aromatic chamomile oil have been frequently used to alleviate or reduce symptoms of anxiety. In one study conducted with a group of 80 postpartum women 6, chamomile was observed to have both helped with their sleep and resulted in lower symptoms of depression in the group who had taken chamomile for 4 weeks. In another study 7 patients with mild general anxiety disorder (GAD) experienced positive changes in their symptoms after taking chamomile. Many chamomile products are combined with lavender which also has sleep-promoting and calming effects, which could help if you are experiencing anxiety symptoms. It is always a good idea to consult your GP if you are worried about anxiety or depression, especially if you are already taking medication.
Chamomile flowers are known for its anti-inflammatoryproperties, which make it a fantastic natural remedy for wounds and other skin complaints such as eczema. When used in topical form, chamomile cream has been shown to be 60% as effective as a low dose of hydrocortisone to ease eczema discomfort8. In a more recent study, chamomile gel has been shown to help to delay radiation dermatitis in cancer patients, a common side effect of the therapy 9.
Chamomile tea is a go-to traditional remedy for many people suffering with common stomach issues such as excess gas, cramps, tummy irritation and can even be used for children experiencing colic 1,10. It helps by relaxing muscles as they move food through the intestines, soothing the stomach and helping to release excess gas 11.
It’s clear that chamomile is an extremely versatile medicinal plant that could potentially be a remedy for many ailments; we have highlighted just a small selection. If you are allergic or hypersensitive to plants of the daisy family, such as artichokes, you shouldn’t take chamomile, as it can cause an allergic reaction. Also, if you are currently taking medication it’s a good idea to check with your doctor or pharmacist first before adding in chamomile supplement.
But the research that has been done does suggest that this humble plant could indeed be the relaxing remedy to turn to, in times of stress and chaos, to provide some calm.
1 - Edwards S, Rocha I, Williamson EM, Heinrich M. Phytopharmacy: an evidence-based guide to herbal medicinal products. ISBN: 978-1-118-54356-6. Wiley-Blackwell, 2015:58.
2 - Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Rep. 2010;3(6):895-901.
3 - Avallone R, Zanoli P, Corsi L, Cannazza G, Baraldi M. Benzodiazepine compounds and GABA in flower heads of matricaria chamomilla. Phytotherapy Res. 1996;10:177–179.
4 - Gould L, Reddy CV, Gomprecht RF. Cardiac effects of chamomile tea. J Clin Pharmacol. 1973;11:475–479.
5 - Adib-Hajbaghery M, Mousavi SN. The effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people: A clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2017;35:109-114.
6 - Chang SM, Chen CH. Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women: a randomized controlled trial. J Adv Nurs. 2016;72(2):306-315.
7 - Amsterdam JD, Li Y, Soeller I, Rockwell K, Mao JJ, Shults J. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2009;29(4):378-382.
8 - Albring M, Albrecht H, Alcorn G, Lücker PW. The measuring of the antiinflammatory effect of a compound on the skin of volunteers. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 1983 Oct;5(8):575-7.
9 - Ferreira EB, Ciol MA, de Meneses AG, Bontempo PSM, Hoffman JM, Reis PEDD. Chamomile Gel versus Urea Cream to Prevent Acute Radiation Dermatitis in Head and Neck Cancer Patients: Results from a Preliminary Clinical Trial. Integr Cancer Ther. 2020;19:1534735420962174.
10 - Gardiner P. Complementary, holistic, and integrative medicine: chamomile. Pediatr Rev. 2007;28(4):e16-e18. doi:10.1542/pir.28-4-e16
11 - Sándor Z, Mottaghipisheh J, Veres K, et al. Evidence Supports Tradition: The in Vitro Effects of Roman Chamomile on Smooth Muscles. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:323.