Medically reviewed by Melissa Nieves, LND
Chamomile, also known as Matricaria recutita OR Noble chamomile, is a plant used since ancient times to deal with common problems such as stomach pain, diarrhea and insomnia. It is most often brewed as a tea, but chamomile is sometimes made into oils and tinctures. It is also often an added ingredient in cosmetics.
There are two main types of chamomile: German chamomile and Roman chamomile. German chamomile is the type normally used in teas, while Roman chamomile is more often used in essential oil form. Roman chamomile is more likely to trigger allergies and cause side effects.
Benefits of chamomile
Although chamomile is a well-known herb and is strongly associated with better digestion and better sleep, research into its proven benefits is limited. Many studies on the benefits of chamomile use the ingredient in conjunction with other herbs, making it difficult to see the effects of chamomile alone. However, there is some good evidence that chamomile has positive health benefits.
It can reduce anxiety
Chamomile is often associated with a calming effect and there may be some truth to this statement. For example, one study found that long-term chamomile supplementation significantly reduced moderate to severe symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, a condition of constant worry that affects daily life. The researchers also saw an improvement in overall mental well-being.
It can help with stomach pain
Many people turn to chamomile tea when they have an upset stomach, and research suggests chamomile tea may help in this way. It can also help with diarrhea in babies and colic (frequent or excessive crying) in babies.
However, most studies only looked at chamomile for digestive issues when it was combined with other herbs, making it difficult to determine whether chamomile itself had positive effects on digestion.
It can help with diabetes and blood sugar control
There is some evidence that chamomile tea may help people who have diabetes or need to get their blood sugar under control.
One study found that chamomile tea consumed three times a day after meals had positive effects on people with diabetes. They experienced reductions in A1C concentrations (average blood glucose over the past three months), serum insulin levels, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
It can help with cancer
Chamomile can help fight and cure cancer. One study found that drinking chamomile tea several times a week could help prevent thyroid cancer and other thyroid conditions.
Chamomile has antioxidant properties that may make it useful in cancer treatments. Antioxidants fight against free radicals, which are molecules that cause cellular damage in the body and could lead to or worsen diseases such as cancer.
People undergoing cancer treatment have also used chamomile tea to treat mouth ulcers, a common side effect of treatment.
It can help with skin healing
Chamomile is often used topically to soothe damaged skin. Researchers have found some evidence that the anti-inflammatory properties of chamomiles help with conditions like eczema.
Other skin conditions often treated with chamomile tea include diaper rash, simple wounds, bruises and burns, as well as sore nipples while breastfeeding.
However, there are few long-term studies on the benefits of using chamomile topically.
People often brew a warm cup of chamomile tea before bed to help them fall asleep. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to show that chamomile is beneficial for sleep. A review of studies found insufficient evidence that chamomile tea helped with insomnia. However, another small study found that chamomile tea helped sleep between parents after childbirth.
How to take chamomile
The most popular way to consume chamomile is to drink the plant as a tea. But there are other ways to prepare chamomile tea. It can be used as an essential oil and in capsule form. Some people might consume chamomile flowers as a food, as a salad ingredient, or as a salad dressing.
Chamomile is also used in many cosmetic products, including:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate herbs and therefore does not establish safe dosages of chamomile tea. However, consuming the amount of chamomile found in tea is generally thought to be safe.
Some research has used German chamomile extract in doses of 220-1,100 milligrams per day over the course of eight weeks.
If you’re thinking about ingesting chamomile tea in any form other than tea, especially in large quantities, it’s best to check with your doctor first.
Is chamomile tea safe?
Chamomile is generally considered safe, especially when consumed as a tea. Both types of Roman and German chamomile are on the FDA’s list of foods that are generally recognized as safe as a spice, seasoning, or flavoring. However, less is known about its preparation in other more potent forms, such as in an essential oil.
When taken by mouth, Roman chamomile may pose risks to some individuals, including people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. For pregnant women, it can increase the risk of miscarriage.
Chamomile can cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to ragweed or other related plants.
Potential drug interactions
There is little information on how chamomile can interact with other drugs or medicines.
Some people have experienced adverse effects from consuming chamomile while taking blood thinners such as warfarin (sold under brand names such as Jantoven, Coumadin). Other adverse effects have been reported by people taking chamomile tea and cyclosporine (sold under brand names such as Gengra and Neoral), which is a drug used in organ transplant recipients.
It is possible that chamomile tea may interact with other medications. Make sure you always talk to your doctor before taking any new herbal supplement.
What to look for
Because herbal supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, it can be difficult to determine the quality of any supplement you’re buying. Therefore, it may be worth buying a product that has been tested by a third party. This means that an external organization has tested the product for quantity of ingredients, composition and any contaminants.
Usually products tested by a third party will have a label with the testing organizations seal. According to the FDA, third-party organizations include consumerLab.com, NSF International and US Pharmacopeia.
Can you have too much chamomile tea?
There is very little recent information on the dosage of chamomile tea and what the upper limit may be to avoid excessive consumption.
Drinking the amount of chamomile tea in a cup of tea is considered safe.
The effects of consuming large amounts of more concentrated chamomile, such as in pill or extract form, are unclear. Talk to your doctor before consuming large amounts of chamomile tea, and stop taking it if you experience any side effects.
Chamomile side effects
Most people who consume chamomile in common forms such as teas experience no negative side effects.
Side effects are rare but can include:
People who are allergic to plants that belong to the same family as chamomile (ragweed, marigolds, daisies, chrysanthemums) are more likely to experience an allergic reaction.
A quick review
Chamomile is an herb that is often used to address common problems like stomach pain and insomnia. While there is a lack of widespread research into chamomile’s effectiveness, there is evidence that it may help in these ways, as well as other areas, such as blood sugar control and skin healing.
Regardless of how effective chamomile tea is generally considered safe and has few side effects. Consuming chamomile in highly concentrated forms hasn’t been studied, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re considering starting to take it.
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Read the original article in Salute.