A soothing cup of chamomile tea may be your favorite way to unwind, but did you know that you are also chalking up many health benefits in the bargain? Chamomile has always been valued for its medicinal properties, with the ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians using it to treat a number of diseases. And there’s every reason you should join their ranks!
Terpenoids like bisabolol, farnesene, and chamazulene and flavonoids like apigenin, quercetin, and farnesene found in the daisy-like flowers of chamomile are responsible for many of the therapeutic effects of the tea.
There are mainly two varieties of this herb – German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). While there are some variations in bioactive components, their uses are similar. German chamomile, however, is thought to be more potent and has been subjected to greater scientific scrutiny than Roman chamomile.1 It is also a sweeter variety than the stronger Roman chamomile and makes for that perfect cup of herbal tea. Here are the benefits a cuppa has got lined up for you.
1. Fights Insomnia
A cup of chamomile tea is just what the doctor ordered if you toss and turn your nights away. This traditional remedy for insomnia has been found to help improve sleep latency in animal studies and can help you fall asleep faster.2 There’s more! Elderly subjects who took chamomile extracts in one study saw an improvement in sleep quality as well.3 In another study which looked at women who had poor sleep quality after having a baby, drinking chamomile tea for 2 weeks reduced the physical symptoms associated with sleep inefficiency significantly.4
Chamomile’s potential as a sleep aid may be due to the presence of a flavonoid known as apigenin which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain and exerts a sedative effect.5 So treating yourself to a cup of chamomile tea an hour or so before bedtime can help you drift off easily.
2. Eases Anxiety
Chamomile is well known for its soothing and calming properties. Research seconds this and has found it to be beneficial for people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People with this condition experience anxiety almost constantly even though there’s no obvious cause for worry. This can not only make it difficult for them to focus on everyday tasks but also result in physical symptoms such as headaches, tiredness, and muscle aches.6 According to one study, consuming an extract of German chamomile for a period of 8 weeks resulted in a significant reduction of anxiety. Flavonoids present in chamomile, especially apigenin, are considered to be responsible for this beneficial effect.7
3. Helps Tackle Depression
Chamomile may help ease depression too. Depression is a condition that often occurs along with anxiety and one study observed the effect of German chamomile in people who suffered from both. People who had chamomile experienced a greater reduction in a scale that measured depression over time when compared to those who took a placebo. Although the mechanism through which chamomile works has not been definitively established, experts suggest that flavonoids present in chamomile may have an antidepressant effect by modulating dopamine, serotonin, central noradrenalin, and GABA neurotransmission.8
4. Eases Premenstrual Syndrome
Lace your chamomile tea with anti-inflammatory ginger to amp up the power of your tea and drink up to tackle menstrual cramps.
Many women experience physical symptoms such as bloating, headache, breast tenderness and emotional symptoms like irritability, depression, and anger before their menstrual periods. If this sounds familiar, a cup of chamomile tea may be just the thing to help you through. According to one study, having chamomile extract not only reduced physical symptoms like breast tenderness, abdominal pain, and headaches but was also able to tackle psychological symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. It is thought that chamomile contains phytoestrogens which have effects similar to those of female hormone estrogen. These phytoestrogens as well as apigenin and other flavonoids present in chamomile may be responsible for this effect.9
5. Tackles Digestive Issues Like Indigestion, Gastritis, And Stomach Ulcers
Did you just overindulge in a decadent meal? Follow up with a cup of chamomile tea. Research shows that antioxidant chamomile can inhibit the intestinal absorption of glucose as well as protect your liver and kidneys from damage caused by oxidative stress due to a high-fat diet.10
Chamomile is carminative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial – and that ticks all the right boxes if you are troubled by gastrointestinal problems. It can help promote digestion and soothe irritated or inflamed mucous membranes in your digestive tract. It can also ease stomach cramps and help expel gas. Moreover, apigenin in it can inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria usually responsible for peptic ulcers and gastritis. So try drinking this classic remedy 2 to 3 times a day between meals the next time you have a touch of indigestion or stomach pain.11 12
6. Relieves Colic
Chamomile tea can also help soothe pain and discomfort when your baby is teething.13 Simply massage the gums with some weak tea twice a day. Be sure to do an allergy patch test beforehand, though.
Colic is the stuff of parents’ nightmare. If your baby’s inconsolable crying and discomfort are getting to you, you might want to try chamomile tea. One study looked at the effect of giving a herbal combination of chamomile, fennel, and lemon balm extracts to colicky babies twice a day for a week. This remedy was found to reduce crying time in 85.4% of the babies. In another trial, colicky babies were given a herbal tea made primarily with chamomile for a week. The tea helped eliminate colic in 57% of cases.14 Since intestinal discomfort may, at least in part, be responsible for colic, chamomile’s tummy-soothing properties may be responsible for its benefits here.15 16
Make a weak tea with chamomile and give this to your baby when they are colicky. In the study on colicky babies, about half a cup of tea was given every time the babies experienced a bout of colic – but no more than three times a day.
7. Fights Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Chamomile can also fight the inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and ease symptoms.17
Irritable bowel syndrome can mean abdominal cramping, bloating, and a change in bowel habits for many. Some people with the disorder have constipation. Some have diarrhea. Others go back and forth between the two. If IBS is making your life miserable, chamomile tea may be able to help. One study found that having chamomile extract with warm water twice a day, 15 minutes after having a meal, significantly reduced symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, abnormal stool consistency, and defecation difficulty after 2 weeks.18
8. Boosts Glucose Control In Diabetics
Be sure not to go overboard with chamomile tea especially if you are on diabetic medication. To be safe, discuss options with your doctor so you can make the most of this remedy.
If you are diabetic and are concerned about keeping your blood sugar under control, chamomile may be able to help. In one study, diabetics who had chamomile tea immediately after meals thrice a day for 8 weeks saw an improvement in glycemic control. It also improved their antioxidant status, thus helping fight the oxidative stress associated with many diabetes-related complications.19 Animal studies also confirm that chamomile can help reduce blood sugar levels by inhibiting glucose absorption by the intestine.20
9. Tackles High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can take a toll on your health and lead to complications such as heart attack, chronic kidney disease, heart failure, and stroke. Chamomile tea may be just the ally you need to help manage your blood pressure, with animal studies showing that it can significantly lower systolic blood pressure. Chamomile has also been found to have a diuretic effect and this could possibly be why it has a positive impact on high blood pressure.21 22
10. Helps Protect Against Cancer
The many benefits offered by chamomile may actually translate into a longer life. One study found that drinking chamomile tea was associated with a 28% lower risk of death in subjects aged 65 and over. Interestingly, the effect was more distinct among women than men! 23
Yes, chamomile can even help you fight cancer. Research has found that chamomile extracts can significantly reduce the viability of cancer cells. Apigenin in chamomile has also been found to inhibit cancer cell growth. Thanks to its the anti-inflammatory effects, chamomile can also counter chronic inflammation which plays an important role in the development of cancer.24 25 Incorporating a cup or two of chamomile tea into your daily routine might just have a protective effect.
11. Helps Heal Wounds And Fight Skin Problems
Chamomile tea can also be used topically for skin conditions like eczema or skin infections. Compounds such as azulene, bisabolol, and farnesene in it are responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties, helping treat inflammation-related problems like eczema.26 Chamomile oil has also been found to act against candida, a fungus that can infect the skin and is known to cause yeast infections and even a diaper rash. 27 28
If your baby has a persistent diaper rash in spite of the area being dry and clean, it may be due to a yeast infection. Swabbing the affected area with a cool chamomile tea compress can help fight the candida fungus.29
Research also shows that this powerful anti-inflammatory herb can help your wounds dry and heal faster.30 Dab the area with chamomile tea to help the healing process. Using a chamomile ointment or poultice or adding chamomile to your bath water are other ways of using this herb topically.
12. Sorts Out Gingivitis And Mouth Sores
Gum disease or gingivitis can lead to swollen, red, bleeding gums. But chamomile to the rescue once again. Use your cup of chamomile tea as a mouthwash to tackle gum disease-causing plaque. According to research, a German chamomile mouthwash reduced both plaque and gingival scores significantly when used twice a day for 2 minutes. Salicylic acid from chamomile may be responsible for this beneficial effect. The soothing and healing properties of chamomile can also help with canker sores. The analgesic effect also takes care of the pain, so a gargle with chamomile tea might just be what you need to tackle those throbbing mouth sores.31 32
Make A Perfect Cup Of Chamomile Tea
To prepare chamomile tea, simply steep 2 or 3 teaspoons of dried chamomile for around 10 to 15 minutes in a cup of boiling water.33 You can use the same quantity of fresh flowers if you have them handy.
Chamomile tea can be had safely 3 to 4 times a day between meals, but no more. However, do keep in mind it can cause an allergic reaction in some, particularly those who are sensitive to daisies, marigold, and ragweed. Avoid the tea if you belong in this category. It may also interact with some medicines such as certain blood thinners. So do speak to your doctor before using chamomile if you are on any medication. Not enough data is available on chamomile’s effects on a pregnancy though many herbalists recommend it for insomnia, restlessness, and heartburn during pregnancy. Discuss your options with your doctor and play it safe by limiting intake if you do choose to have the tea during your pregnancy.34 35
|↑1, ↑5||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||Shinomiya, Kazuaki, Toshio Inoue, Yoshiaki Utsu, Shin Tokunaga, Takayoshi Masuoka, Asae Ohmori, and Chiaki Kamei. “Hypnotic activities of chamomile and passiflora extracts in sleep-disturbed rats.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 28, no. 5 (2005): 808-810.|
|↑3||Abdullahzadeh, Mehrdad, Pegah Matourypour, and Sayed Ali Naji. “Investigation effect of oral chamomilla on sleep quality in elderly people in Isfahan: A randomized control trial.” Journal of education and health promotion 6 (2017).|
|↑4||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.|
|↑6||Generalized Anxiety Disorder: When Worry Gets Out of Control. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑7||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.|
|↑8||Amsterdam, Jay D., Justine Shults, Irene Soeller, Jun James Mao, Kenneth Rockwell, and Andrew B. Newberg. “Chamomile (matricaria recutita) may have antidepressant activity in anxious depressed humans-an exploratory study.” Alternative therapies in health and medicine 18, no. 5 (2012): 44.|
|↑9||Sharifi, Farangis, Masoumeh Simbar, Faraz Mojab, and Hamid Alavi Majd. “Comparison of the effects of Matricaria chamomila (Chamomile) extract and mefenamic acid on the intensity of premenstrual syndrome.” Complementary therapies in clinical practice 20, no. 1 (2014): 81-88.|
|↑10, ↑20||Jabri, Mohamed-Amine, Mohsen Sakly, Lamjed Marzouki, and Hichem Sebai. “Chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) decoction extract inhibits in vitro intestinal glucose absorption and attenuates high fat diet-induced lipotoxicity and oxidative stress.” Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 87 (2017): 153-159.|
|↑11||Chamomile. University of Michigan.|
|↑12||Helicobacter Pylori Infections. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑13||Sharafzadeh, Shahram, and Omid Alizadeh. “German and Roman chamomile.” J. Appl. Pharm. Sci 1, no. 10 (2011): 01-05.|
|↑14||Weizman, Z. V. I., Soliman Alkrinawi, D. A. N. Goldfarb, and Chaim Bitran. “Efficacy of herbal tea preparation in infantile colic.” The Journal of Pediatrics 122, no. 4 (1993): 650-652.|
|↑15||Savino, Francesco, Francesco Cresi, Emanuele Castagno, Leandra Silvestro, and Roberto Oggero. “A randomized double‐blind placebo‐controlled trial of a standardized extract of Matricariae recutita, Foeniculum vulgare and Melissa officinalis (ColiMil®) in the treatment of breastfed colicky infants.” Phytotherapy research 19, no. 4 (2005): 335-340.|
|↑16||The Claim: Chamomile Can Soothe a Colicky Baby. The New York Times.|
|↑17||Menghini, Luigi, Claudio Ferrante, Lidia Leporini, Lucia Recinella, Annalisa Chiavaroli, Sheila Leone, Giorgio Pintore, Michele Vacca, Giustino Orlando, and Luigi Brunetti. “An hydroalcoholic chamomile extract modulates inflammatory and immune response in HT29 cells and isolated rat colon.” Phytotherapy Research 30, no. 9 (2016): 1513-1518.|
|↑18||Agah, Shahram, Amirmahdi Taleb, Reyhaneh Moeini, Narjes Gorji, Hajar Nikbakht, and Mojtaba Soltani-Kermanshahi. “Chamomile efficacy in patients of the irritable bowel syndrome.” Der Pharma Chemica, 7 (4), 41 45 (2015).|
|↑19||Zemestani, Maryam, Maryam Rafraf, and Mohammad Asghari-Jafarabadi. “Chamomile tea improves glycemic indices and antioxidants status in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.” Nutrition 32, no. 1 (2016): 66-72.|
|↑21||Zeggwagh, Naoufel Ali, Abderahman Moufid, Jean Baptiste Michel, and Mohamed Eddouks. “Hypotensive effect of Chamaemelum nobile aqueous extract in spontaneously hypertensive rats.” Clinical and Experimental Hypertension 31, no. 5 (2009): 440-450.|
|↑22||Diuretics. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑23||Howrey, Bret T., M. Kristen Peek, Juliet M. McKee, Mukaila A. Raji, Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, and Kyriakos S. Markides. “Chamomile Consumption and Mortality: A Prospective Study of Mexican Origin Older Adults.” The Gerontologist 56, no. 6 (2015): 1146-1152.|
|↑24||Srivastava, Janmejai K., and Sanjay Gupta. “Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of chamomile extract in various human cancer cells.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 55, no. 23 (2007): 9470-9478.|
|↑25||Bhaskaran, Natarajan, Sanjeev Shukla, Janmejai K. Srivastava, and Sanjay Gupta. “Chamomile: an anti-inflammatory agent inhibits inducible nitric oxide synthase expression by blocking RelA/p65 activity.” International journal of molecular medicine 26, no. 6 (2010): 935-940.|
|↑26||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.|
|↑27||Aggag, M. E., and R. T. Yousef. “Study of antimicrobial activity of chamomile oil.” Planta medica 22, no. 06 (1972): 140-144.|
|↑28||Diaper rash. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑29||O’Mara, Peggy, and Jane L. McConnell. Natural Family Living: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Parenting. Simon and Schuster, 2000.|
|↑30||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.|
|↑31||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.|
|↑32||Chamomile. University of Michigan.|
|↑33||German chamomile. Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.|
|↑34||Roman Chamomile. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑35||Chamomile. National Institutes of Health.|