Dried flowers of chamomile plant (Matricaria chamomilla) are largely used to provide sedative as well as spasmolytic (reducing spams) effects. Chamomile is a very popular tea. The plant has antioxidant and antimicrobial activities, and significant antiplatelet activity in vitro (it can thin the blood). Animal model studies indicate potent anti-inflammatory action, some antimutagenic and cholesterol-lowering activities, as well as antispasmotic and anxiolytic effects. However, human studies with chamomile tea or chamomile supplements are quite limited. The word anxiolytic means anxiety reducing.
Alternatives to chamomile herb that are stronger
For a stronger sedative or anti-anxiety agent, consider 5-HTP serotonin precursor, passionflower herb, ashwagandha herb, kava kava root, tryptophan amino acid, or valerian herb. The amino acid theanine and the neurotransmitter GABA may also work in some people. Chamomile tea may initially cause a slight alertness followed by a mild relaxation. However, each person responds differently, and most people do not feel a significant effect from drinking chamomile tea unless they are very sensitive to herbs.
What's in Chamomile herb?
The main constituents of the flowers include several phenolic compounds, primarily the flavonoids apigenin, quercetin, patuletin, luteolin and their glucosides. Flavonoids have anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties. The main components of the essential oil extracted from chamomile flowers are the terpenoids alpha-bisabolol and its oxides and azulenes, including chamazulene.
Benefits of various species
Dietary intake of the flower extracts of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) inhibited compound 48/80-induced itch-scratch responses in mice.
The antipruritic effects of the diets containing German chamomile on the compound 48/80-induced scratching in ddY mice were examined. The inhibitory effects of the dietary intake of the German chamomile extracts on compound 48/80-induced itch-scratch response were comparable to oxatomide (10 mg/kg, p.o.), an anti-allergic agent.
Researchers tested the urine of 14 healthy volunteers who drank five cups of chamomile tea every day for two weeks. They found that drinking tea produced changes in the urine that suggest there was an increase in a substance that helps the body fight off colds. The herb is used as an anti-inflammatory, sedative and ulcer-fighter. Research also suggests that chamomile may act as an antioxidant and antimicrobial. During the study, the research team tracked urine samples from seven men and seven women who drank multiple cups of the tea every day. When volunteers drank the tea, their urine showed significantly more hippurate, a substance that can act as an anti-inflammatory. Drinking the tea also increased urinary levels of glycine, which may relieve muscle spasms, perhaps explaining reports that chamomile can ease menstrual problems. After participants stopped drinking the tea, glycine and hippurate stayed elevated for up to two weeks, which suggests the effects of chamomile tea may be long-lasting. Since hippurate is produced by substances in the gut, it would appear that chamomile, which is known to have antibacterial properties, has changed the bacteria living in the gut. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, January 26, 2005.
According to a study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, in Mexican-American women who consumed chamomile, the risk of death during the study period was reduced; April 29, 2015, The Gerontologist.
Comments: I am not sure how reliable this study is, I think its best to wait for other trials before making claims that chamomile tea increases lifespan. But, in the meantime, there is no reason not to consume it a few times a week.
Gen Physiol Biophys. 2015. Chemical composition, antioxidant properties and hepatoprotective effects of chamomile (Matricaria recutita) decoction extract against alcohol-induced oxidative stress in rat.
Morphine, opioid withdrawal
Matricaria chamomilla extract inhibits both development of morphine dependence and expression of abstinence syndrome in rats.
J Pharmacol Sci. 2003.
The effect of Matricaria chamomilla on the development of morphine dependence and expression of abstinence was investigated in rats. The frequencies of withdrawal behavioral signs (paw tremor, rearing, teeth chattering, body shakes, ptosis, diarrhea, and urination) and weight loss induced by naloxone challenge were demonstrated in morphine-dependent rats receiving chamomile extract or saline. The withdrawal behavioral manifestations and weight loss were inhibited significantly by chronic co-administration of chamomile extract with morphine. Administration of a single dose of chamomile before the naloxone challenge in morphine-dependent animals abolished the withdrawal behavioral manifestations. The dramatic increase of plasma cAMP induced by naloxone-precipitated abstinence was prevented by chronic co-administration of chamomile extract with morphine. These results suggest that chamomile extract inhibits the development of morphine dependence and expression of abstinence syndrome.
Sleep and relaxation
Chamomile tea does not work well for sleep problems. A much more effective product for problems with sleep is Good Night Rx.
Q. Can chamomile tea be used at the same
time in the evening as 5-HTP?
A. The effects from chamomile are very mild, so there should not be any major interaction.
Nature's Way buy Chamomile herb
Among the most popular herbal supplements in Europe, Chamomile extract is commonly used for its soothing effects and ability to support normal tone in the digestive tract. Chamomile has long been used as an after-meal and bedtime drink. Now you can have the health benefits of chamomile in a convenient concentrated extract. Standardized to: 1.2% Apigenin
Nature's Way Standardized Extracts are technically and scientifically advanced herbal products. Standardization of an extract assures specific measurable levels of the important compounds that give the products their beneficial activity in the body.
Buy Chamomile supplement
Chamomile flower - 220 mg
Chamomile, dried extract - 125 mg
(flower) 1.2 % Apigenin
Recommendation: Take one capsule as needed with water. One chamomile capsule is equivalent to a cup of tea. For intensive use, take up to 2-4 capsules daily with water. You may also open one or two capsules of chamomile and pour hot water over it and have it as a tea.
Caution: Persons with allergies to plants of the asteraceae family (ragweed, asters and chrysanthemums) should avoid use of chamomile.
Chamomile herb allergy or reaction
Allergic reactions to chamomile pollens, including hives, contact dermatitis, and allergic conjunctivitis from contact with the eye, can occur. Allergic reactions to chamomile occur more often in those who have a predisposition to pollen allergy, ragweed, or allergies in general.
J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 2014. Occupational allergic rhinoconjunctivitis induced by Matricaria chamomilla with tolerance of chamomile tea.
Allergol Int. 2009.
Anaphylactic reaction to camomile tea. A type-IV-allergic reaction to German
camomile (Matricaria chamomilla) in a form of allergic contact dermatitis is not
unusual. However, only a few cases of anaphylactic reaction to camomile have
been described in the literature. We present the case of a 38-year-old Caucasian
man who developed an episode of severe anaphylaxis with generalized urticaria,
angioedema and severe dyspnoea one hour after consuming camomile tea. Laboratory
examination demonstrated a total serum IgE of 123 kU/l with specific IgE against
camomile (4.94 kU/l, class 3). Skin prick test and labial provocation test with
camomile showed a strong positive reaction. Our case confirms the presence of a
type-I allergy to orally ingested camomile and indicates that the incidence and
risk may be underestimated. Additional response to mugwort and pollen-derived
food allergens should be evaluated in patients sensitised to camomile due to a
higher incidence of allergic cross-reactivity.
I just want you to know that I became sensitized to the SMELL of the matricaria recutita in my shampoo about 8 months ago, when I was stressed due to taking an upcoming California Bar Exam. The result is that any fabric that came in contact with my shoulder-length hair smells of the matricaria. When these clothing and bedding items were washed with other items, unbeknownst to me the matricaria is potentiated by water and spreads to the previously unaffected fabrics. The smell is then almost impossible to get out of everything.. Therefore, I have had to replace my clothing and, more frequently my bedding, numerous times.I am very allergic and chemically sensitive. I have mostly inhalant allergies, including pollen allergies. I have asthma that has been so severe that I have almost died of it 7 times (6 respiratory arrests and one nasty bout of status asthmaticus). I even got Social Security disability even though asthma is not a disabling condition. Due to improved medications and allergy treatment by accupuncture (the NAET protocol; many MD allergists will not treat me due to my medical history and I get sick from their antigens anyway - I am too sensitive for them), my asthma is in good control except I have had some life-threatening attacks in the past 8 months due to the smell of the matricaria in the shampoo. My asthma has been under such good control that I was able to attend and graduate from law school with a JD degree a year ago, can fly across the country on planes, stay in certain "green" hotels such as the Westin, eat out in restaurants, have two golden retriever dogs as pets, play tennis and golf. However, the smell of the chamomile stays with me at all times these last 8 months - I keep smelling it and it doesn't go away over time, like normal smells do. I am very distracted by it -especailly annoying as I am yet again studying for the next Bar exam. When I awaken in the mornings , my peak flow meter shows abnormally low readings ( around 250 as opposed to my usual 350). I have tried many products to try to get the smell out of fabrics and continually fail. It is particularly difficult, if not impossible, to get the smell out of cottons and polyesters.My purpose in writing to you is to inform you of my issue. There must be others with the same problem. I am not that unique. Second, if you have heard of inhalant allergy to chamomile, I would like to know that.
A. I am not yet aware of chamomile as an inhalent allergy but I think it may be a possibility in those who are extremely sensitive to it.
Forms of chamomile plant products
You can find chamomile herb as a dietary supplement in capsule form, and often as chamomile tea. There is also chamomile shampoo.
Chamomile research study
Proof of efficacy of Kamillosan cream in atopic eczema.
Eur J Med Res. 2000.
Kamillosan (R) cream contains chamomile extract as active principle manufactured from the chamomile sort Manzana which is rich in active principles and has been proved not to exhibit a chamomile-related allergen potential. For this reason Kamillosan chamomile cream is suited for local therapy of atopic eczema. In a partially double-blind, randomized study carried out as a half-side comparison, Kamillosan chamomile cream was tested vs. 0.5% hydrocortisone cream and the vehicle cream as placebo in patients suffering from medium-degree atopic eczema. After a 2-week treatment Kamillosan cream showed a mild superiority towards 0.5% hydrocortisone and a marginal difference as compared to placebo.
Q. I wrote you a couple of weeks ago to ask you if you ever had any indication that chamomile tea caused any kind of stomach upset. I have read everything I could get my hands on regarding side effects of chamomile tea and have found none to do with the abdomen, just the opposite. I stopped taking it for a few days and had no stomach cramps at night. I also told you I was taking lecithin and thought that might have given me at night stomach cramps and as soon as I stopped taking it my stomach cramps were gone. I put the chamomile back into my nightly routine and immediately I got back my stomach cramps. Gave it up for a few days and started again thinking I would give it one more try, sure enough stomach cramps. I am extremely healthy and have no know allergies, but both the lecithin and chamomile for some reason do not agree with me and it's funny because for months I drank the chamomile tea and it aided in relieving muscle cramps from my yoga as well as helped me fall asleep, but I guess the accumulative effect worked in a negative way. I just wanted to share that with you.
A. Thank you for providing your experience. I have learned from my many years in this field that people can have very different responses to herbs and nutrients. Each person is unique.
Q. Just wanted to say a general thank you for an excellent site. What a relief. It's frustrating to read the typical homeopathic literature that promises to cure everything from warts to anxiety -- with no scientific study listed! By the way, chamomile has always made me either slightly or greatly nauseated--and I'm not allergic to it.
Q. Would you possibly be able to answer
two questions of mine concerning the usage and effects of chamomile plant, the popular
sedative and digestive calmant -- specifically, the dried chamomile flowers sold
commercially in the form of tea? Firstly, I was curious just how potent
chamomile is as an antibacterial and antiviral agent. Namely, is it effective at
preventing the onset of digestive infections causing gastroenteritis (food
poisoning and "stomach flu")? If so, is it possible to estimate roughly how much
must be consumed as tea to produce this effect? And secondly, I have read in
some sources of chamomile being a safe herb to use, but in others of the
possibility of developing a ragweed allergy through excessive use. Is the
development of an allergy to chamomile indeed a danger to consider, and if so,
what dosage is considered "excessive" and what symptoms would be expected if the
allergy does indeed develop?
A. It's difficult to say whether chamomile allergy is something that develops over time or whether someone who is allergic to it will develop a reaction to it pretty quickly. I suspect that it is the latter. If someone is allergic to chamomile, they will notice it quickly, and if another person is not allergic to chamomile, they are not likely to have an allergy to chamomile over time. As to your first question, it is difficult to say how potent it is. Not enough research is done. Many herbs have activity against bacteria or a virus. For instance, garlic and onions. Others include noni, ashwagandha herb, catuaba, and many more. It is best to consume a small amount of a variety of herbs rather than just rely on one or two.
Q. Is chamomile tea made from chamomile
flower effective for sleep?
A. Chamomile tea is very gentle and most people are not likely to notice much of an effect on sleep from drinking chamomile tea. However the benefit of chamomile tea effects is that it has many flavonoids which are health promoting.
Q. Can you tell me more about chamomile oil?
A. I have not studies chamomile oil so I don't have much to say about it at this time.
theanine amino acid help with
anxiety? Can it be taken with chamomile?
L theanine may be a mild anti-anxiety agent, but we need more human studies to determine if this is true. I don't see any reason why it can't be taken with chamomile herb.
I used chamomile tea (Celestial Seasoning's Sleepytime) as a hot compress for my eye when it was itchy after a day of mowing lawn. I assumed I was getting conjunctivitis as I had it a few years earlier and read about using the herb and compresses. I used the tea compress 3-4 days. It seemed to help and the eye seemed back to normal. A week or so later, I came down with eczema over my eyebrow and forehead where the chamomile compress had touched. About a month later I noticed small blisters on my iris. An ophthalmologist concluded I had ulcers in my eye. I have no allergies to pollen that I know of and walk in the woods about 5 times per week. I read that Roman chamomile can cause an allergic reaction, but that German chamomile rarely does. I don't know what kind is in the tea as it isn't listed. After over a month my eczema (which is only on the left side of my face and spread to my cheek) is gradually going away. It still itches and is unsightly. I have some rosacea (red skin and a few small broken veins), but otherwise my skin is healthy and I have no health problems. This is the first allergic reaction that I can remember.
I found your site informative. I was
unaware that ragweed and chamomile are related. I am allergic to ragweed and
tree pollens... Is it possible for chamomile to irritate the vulva area without
actually applying it there?. In other words, if I am using a face cleanser with
chamomile, could I get an irritation-tenderness on the vulva that comes and
goes. My GWN finds nothing at all wrong and I use some products (not orally)
with chamomile. Thank you so much-it has been hard to figure this out. Not many
Doctors know about allergies including my allergist.
It is possible when chamomile herb is taken orally that in some individuals who are allergic to the herb it could affect them in various places in the body. However, I don't know whether the chamomile in the particular product you have is able to go through the skin, the concentration of chamomile they have in the skin product, and whether other compounds in the cream could be causing a possible allergic reaction. Sometimes one way to find out is through stopping and restarting a week or two later to see if allergic symptoms recur or whether it was a coincidence.
I'm working on a story for an article in a health magazine. I'll be discussing the various health benefits of chamomile, including its ability to soothe nerves, calm the digestive system, ease inflammation when used topically and help heal mouth and throat tissues. I have also read that it's effective for some menopausal symptoms. I'm wondering if you would be able to supply some quotes regarding any of these applications--perhaps you can report some anecdotal evidence of chamomile's effectiveness or can speak to how chamomile works in the body.
Chamomile is an herb that has mild soothing properties in terms of minor digestive symptoms and relaxation. However, I am not aware of any extensive human trials testing chamomile tea or a chamomile supplement in terms of treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, as an anti-anxiety herb, or for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. There are many other herbs that are more potent as a remedy or treatment for these conditions. The main constituents of the flowers include several phenolic compounds, primarily the flavonoids apigenin, quercetin, patuletin, luteolin and their glucosides. Flavonoids have anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties. Chamomile tea is a wonderful addition to one's healthy tea options and drinking chamomile tea on a regular basis is likely to provide minor health benefits.