Chamomile is an alternative remedy that features in any self-help kit. And with good reason too. This herb has a long history of medicinal use, with ancient Romans, Egyptians, and Greeks all vouching for it. Part of the daisy family, chamomile comes from either the German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) or Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) plant. Although the German chamomile is more popular, with most scientific studies focussing on it, both plants have similar medicinal qualities. The yellow and white flowerhead of chamomile is used to make teas and capsules as well as the powerful blue chamomile oil. Its healing properties are attributed to the flavonoids and terpenoids found in the flowers.1 2 Let’s take a look at what this ancient medicinal herb can do for you.
1. Relieves Anxiety
Chamomile has traditionally been used for its calming and relaxing properties. Scientific research has found it to be useful for people with generalized anxiety disorder. People who suffer from this condition experience an almost constant state of anxiety even when there is little to worry about. This can make it difficult for them to concentrate, aside from causing physical symptoms like tiredness, muscle aches, headaches, and stomach pain.3 One study observed that people with generalized anxiety disorder who took German chamomile extract for 8 weeks experienced a significantly larger reduction in anxiety than the control group. Flavonoids present in chamomile – apigenin, in particular – may be responsible for its anxiety-lowering effects.4
How to use: Make a cup of chamomile tea by steeping 2 to 3 teaspoons of the herb in a cup of boiling water for about 10 to 15 minutes. This tea can be had between meals to relieve anxiety.
2. Fights Insomnia
Do you toss and turn at night instead of getting a restful night’s sleep? A cup of chamomile tea is a classic remedy you could try. A study which looked at 80 women who struggled with poor sleep quality postpartum found that drinking chamomile tea for 2 weeks significantly lowered physical symptoms related to sleep inefficiency.5
So how does it work? The flavonoid apigenin may again be responsible, as it binds to benzodiazepine receptors in your brain. Benzodiazepines are conventionally used to treat insomnia and anxiety.6
How to use: Try a soothing cup of warm chamomile tea about half an hour before you go to sleep.
3. Soothes Eczema Rashes
German chamomile has skin-soothing properties which makes it useful for people with eczema.7 Eczema is an inflammatory skin disorder which is characterized by itchy, dry, red skin – around 30% of people in the United States suffer from this condition.8 Chamomile may help thanks to its sesquiterpene constituents like bisabolol, azulene, and farnesene which have anti-inflammatory properties.9
How to use: Add 1/4 lb. of dried chamomile flowers to your bathwater to ease your eczema. Alternatively, you could also add 5 to 10 drops of chamomile oil to your bathwater.
4. Helps With Wound Healing
Chamomile can help take care of minor cuts and scrapes too. One study looked at the effect of chamomile extract after dermabrasion of tattoos. It was found that wounds dried and healed faster when chamomile was applied topically.10
How to use: Ointments containing chamomile extracts or chamomile constituents like bisabolol and chamazulene can be useful. You can also grind dried or fresh chamomile leaves with a little water and make a poultice. Apply this poultice for around 30 minutes to give it time to work.
5. Treats Gingivitis
Gingivitis or gum disease can cause swollen, red gums that are prone to bleeding easily. The accumulation of plaque on your teeth is known to cause gum disease. Chamomile can help you out here too. One study found that when a mouthwash made of German chamomile was used for 2 minutes, twice a day, for a period of 4 weeks, it was effective at reducing both gingival and plaque sores significantly.
Salicylic acid present in chamomile may account for its beneficial effect on plaque accumulation and gingival inflammation. Chamomile’s ability to promote wound healing can help with gum disease as well.11 A chamomile mouthwash may also be useful in other oral irritations like canker sores due to its healing and soothing properties.12
How to use: Mix 10 to 15 drops of the liquid extract of chamomile in about 100 ml of warm water and use that as a mouthwash thrice a day.
6. Works Against Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids, swollen veins in and around your anus or rectum, are typically caused by extra pressure on your anus due to factors like constipation or pregnancy. Chamomile can help people with this condition. One study found that when people with acute hemorrhoid bleeding took a chamomile extract for a period of 2 months, the severity and frequency of hemorrhoid attacks was significantly lowered. The frequency of symptoms like itching and pain also lessened. Chamomile may work by inhibiting inflammation and increasing circulation in the bowel.13
How to use: Chamomile extracts are available as capsules or you could try drinking some chamomile tea. You can also add some chamomile or diluted chamomile oil to a warm sitz bath for relief.
7. Eases Diarrhea And Digestive Problems
Chamomile tea can ease the inflammation and irritation that comes with diarrhea as well as reduce intestinal cramping.14 In one study, children with diarrhea were given a preparation of chamomile extract and apple pectin as against a placebo. The duration of diarrhea was considerably shorter in the former group and there was also significant improvement in symptoms.15
Since chamomile can relax contractions in the smooth muscles of the intestines, it is also traditionally used to treat digestive problems like gas, indigestion, colic, irritable bowel syndrome, and stomach cramps.
How to use: Have a cup of chamomile tea, in between meals, thrice a day. You can also combine it with other beneficial herbs. For instance, a combination of peppermint, iberis, and chamomile might work well for indigestion.
8. Tackles Yeast Infections
Most women deal with a bothersome yeast infection at some point. Caused by the fungus Candida albicans, a yeast infection can result in an abnormal vaginal discharge as well as redness, itching, pain, or a burning sensation in the genital area. It can also make intercourse or urination painful.16 Chamomile may be a natural and effective solution for this problem. Chamomile oil, for instance, has been found to exhibit strong fungicidal activity against Candida.17
How to use: Make an infusion of chamomile, let it cool, and add it to a sitz bath. Soak in this for 20–30 minutes.
9. Deals With Diaper Rash
A baby with a diaper rash is an uncomfortable, cranky baby. This common condition is caused by Candida and can leave your baby with red, scaly irritated skin.18 Since chamomile works against Candida, it can help tackle your baby’s diaper rash.
How to use: Use chamomile tea to clean your baby’s bottom after a diaper change. You can also dilute 5 drops of chamomile oil in 2 ounces of almond oil and apply it to the affected part to clear up the rash.
10. Helps With Diabetes
Diabetes, characterized by high blood sugar levels, can cause serious health issues like nerve damage, heart disease, kidney disease, and eye problems.19 Research indicates that chamomile tea may have a beneficial effect on your sugar levels. One animal study found that blood sugar levels dropped in subjects given a chamomile hot water extract. The compounds esculetin and quercetin found in chamomile also had similar effects.20
How to use: Having a cup of chamomile tea with your meals may help if you’re concerned about your blood sugar. However, do keep in mind that chamomile tea can’t be a substitute for medication or a balanced diet and active lifestyle when it comes to managing your blood sugar levels.
Be Aware Of These Side Effects Of Chamomile
Chamomile is generally thought to be a safe herb. However, it could have certain side effects that you should know of:
- Chamomile is not recommended for people who suffer from asthma as it may worsen this condition.
- Do not take it if you are pregnant as it may pose a risk to the pregnancy.
- Some people are allergic to chamomile. Generally, people who are sensitive to asters, chrysanthemums, daisies, or ragweed may also be allergic to chamomile.
- Drinking excessive amounts of concentrated chamomile tea may lead to vomiting.
- It’s not safe to drive after having chamomile tea as it can make you drowsy.
- It’s best not to take chamomile 2 weeks before dental procedures or surgery as it can increase the risk of bleeding.
- Do check with your doctor to see if chamomile can have an impact on any medication that you’re taking. You might want to be careful about using chamomile if you take blood thinners or medicines to manage blood pressure or diabetes as it might add to the effect of these drugs.21
|↑1, ↑6||Srivastava, Janmejai K., Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta. “Chamomile: a herbal medicine of the past with a bright future.” Molecular medicine reports 3, no. 6 (2010): 895-901.|
|↑2||Roman chamomile. University of Maryland.|
|↑3||Generalized Anxiety Disorder: When Worry Gets Out of Control. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑4||Amsterdam, Jay D., Yimei Li, Irene Soeller, Kenneth Rockwell, Jun James Mao, and Justine Shults. “A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy of generalized anxiety disorder.” Journal of clinical psychopharmacology 29, no. 4 (2009): 378.|
|↑5||Chang, Shao‐Min, and Chung‐Hey Chen. “Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of advanced nursing 72, no. 2 (2016): 306-315.|
|↑7, ↑12, ↑14||Chamomile. University of Michigan.|
|↑8||Eczema(Atopic Dermatitis). National Institutes of Health.|
|↑9||Lee, Soon-Hee, Yong Heo, and Young-Chul Kim. “Effect of German chamomile oil application on alleviating atopic dermatitis-like immune alterations in mice.” Journal of veterinary science 11, no. 1 (2010): 35-41.|
|↑10||Glowania, H. J., Chr Raulin, and M. Swoboda. “Effect of chamomile on wound healing–a clinical double-blind study.” Zeitschrift fur Hautkrankheiten 62, no. 17 (1987): 1262-1267.|
|↑11||Pourabbas, Reza, and Abbas Delazar. “The effect of German chamomile mouthwash on dental plaque and gingival inflammation.” Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research (2010): 105-109.|
|↑13||Kavutcu, M., M. Arhan, B. Aytaç, R. Çetin, and I. Durak. “Organic extract of flowers from a chamomile species eliminates complaints resulted from hemorrhoid disease.” Planta Medica 72, no. 11 (2006): P_181.|
|↑15||De la Motte, S., S. Böse-O’Reilly, M. Heinisch, and F. Harrison. “Double-blind comparison of an apple pectin-chamomile extract preparation with placebo in children with diarrhea.” Arzneimittel-Forschung 47, no. 11 (1997): 1247-1249.|
|↑16||Vaginal yeast infection. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑17||Aggag, M. E., and R. T. Yousef. “Study of antimicrobial activity of chamomile oil.” Planta medica 22, no. 06 (1972): 140-144.|
|↑18||Diaper rash. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑19||Diabetes. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑20||Kato, Atsushi, Yuka Minoshima, Jo Yamamoto, Isao Adachi, Alison A. Watson, and Robert J. Nash. “Protective effects of dietary chamomile tea on diabetic complications.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 56, no. 17 (2008): 8206-8211.|
|↑21||Roman chamomile. University of Maryland.|