Chamomile & Chamomile Tea: Benefits and Information
If you are a tea connoisseur or a fan of calming, warm drinks that settle you down before bedtime, you are probably familiar with chamomile.
Chamomile tea is a popular drink, thanks to its mild, fruity flavor and capacity to soothe one’s nerves. The word “chamomile” is derived from the Greek terms for “on the ground” (kamai) and apple (melon). There are actually two kinds of chamomile: German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and English (or Roman) chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). Although they’re two different species, both are used to treat similar conditions.
Chamomile has a long history of use as both a medicinal herb and a tea. It’s taken internally to promote sleep, reduce anxiety, and relieve diarrhea and other gastrointestinal complaints. It’s also applied topically to speed wound healing and reduce inflammation.
Chamomile contains a wide range of bioactive components, including coumarins, phytosterols, flavonoids and sesquiterpenes.
In-vitro and animal studies have revealed a range of activities that may contribute to its reported effects.
For example, anti-microbial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have been observed under experimental conditions. Improved wound and burn healing has also been demonstrated in animal models.
Controlled studies on people are scarce, however, although the few that exist are generally positive. One study using human volunteers demonstrated that drinking chamomile tea increased levels of urinary hippurate—a by-product of polyphenol metabolism.
Since some polyphenols (such as those in green tea) are known to have anti-bacterial effects, this experiment provided tentative support for chamomile’s reputation as an immune system enhancer.
While it didn’t prove that chamomile has any direct, therapeutic effects (admiring press reports, notwithstanding), this study at least confirmed that chamomile is biologically active under normal conditions of use.
Chamomile extract was also used in a clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of a commercial product for treating childhood diarrhea. The formula, a combination of chamomile and apple pectin, demonstrated “superior efficacy” over placebo. This research also provided some support for the traditional use of chamomile, although more work remains to be done before it can be unequivocally recommended for this purpose.
Other random clinical studies have indicated that chamomile may be useful (alone or in combination with other compounds) for treating colic, mucositis and eczema, as well as enhancing sleep.
Chamomile can be purchased in a variety of forms: capsules, teas, tinctures and oil. It is generally considered to be safe, although allergic reactions have been reported. In addition, it should not be used by people taking blood-thinning medications or by pregnant/breastfeeding women.
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