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Chamomile-Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

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The content has been written by a medical expert.

Introduction

Chamomile is a medicinal plant that has been in use for long. It is the plant that mankind has known, studied, and utilized since the medieval ages.1 The chamomile plant belongs to the Asteraceae or Compositae family which is also known as the Daisy family. 

The generic name chamomile which is the name popularly used comes from the words “Khamai”, which means on the ground and “melon” which means an apple in Greek . Chamomile term is used collectively to refer to many plants that belong to the family Asteraceae which includes the

  • German or Hungarian chamomile (Matricaria recutita, or Chamomilla recutita),
  • English or Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile),
  • Moroccan chamomile, Moroccan blue chamomile, corn chamomile, dyer’s chamomile, rayless chamomile, and scentless chamomile.2,3,4  

The German and Roman chamomile are known as the true chamomile due to their medicinal properties. They are very similar in appearance but differ slightly in the chemical content of the oils obtained from them.2,3,4 The German chamomile is the more commonly used of the two.5 

Where is Chamomile Found?

Chamomile is authentic to the Southern and Eastern parts of Europe. It is grown in1:

  • Germany,
  • Hungary,
  • Russia,
  • Brazil,
  • France,
  • Yugoslavia,
  • North Africa,
  • Australia, and
  • New Zealand.

It found its way to India during the rule of the Mughal emperors and is currently grown in the Northern parts of the country. The most prominent producer of this plant is Hungary.1 

The flowers and leaves of the plant are usually used, the flowers being the part that is most used. The flowers can be used fresh or dried. The plant is harvested during the flowering phase on a sunny day during the morning time. The flower of this plant has a characteristic fruity fragrance and is daisy-like in appearance. It has a yellow center that is around 1- 1.5 cm wide and white petals.5,6 

Nutritional Value: 

Macronutrient Per 1 Cup (8 fl oz) of Chamomile Tea Brewed 7: 

Nutrient   Amount  
Energy   2.37 kcal 
Total fat 
Cholesterol 
Total carbohydrate   0.47 g 
Protein 
Polyunsaturated fatty acid   0.01 g 

Micronutrients Per 1 Cup (8 fl oz) of Chamomile Tea Brewed 7: 

Vitamin A   47.40 IU 
Vitamin B     
Thiamine  0.02 mg  
Riboflavin  0.01 mg  
Pantothenic acid   0.03 mg  
Folate  2.37 mg  
Potassium  21.33 mg 
Magnesium  2.370 mg  
Manganese   0.100 mg 
Calcium,   4.74 mg 
Iron  0.19 mg 
Copper   0.04 mg 
Zinc  0.09 mg 

Benefits of Chamomile:   

This medicinal plant has diverse therapeutic uses which are discussed as follows:   

Benefits of Chamomile for the Brain:  

Benefits of Chamomile for Sleep Disorders:  

  • Chamomile tea is usually taken in cases of insomnia a sleep disorder marked by lack of sleep.
  • The flavonoids and apigenin present in the herb bind to a receptor in the brain (benzodiazepine receptor) which causes slowing down of the brain activity and induces sleep. 
  • It is used in children who are unable to fall asleep due to severe pain and in cases of difficulty falling asleep due to nervousness or anxiety.2, 3 

Benefits of Chamomile for Anxiety:

Usually, the oil extracted from the flowers is inhaled as vapours and it produces a calming effect and reduces pain as well. Thus, it has been shown to be useful in mild to moderate anxiety disorder.2,3 

Benefits of Chamomile for Epilepsy

Animal studies have shown that chamomile delays the start of a seizure episode.2 

Benefits of Chamomile in Headache:

The inhaled vapours produce calmness and reduce pain and can be used in headaches that appear before seizures, during nervousness, and during episodes of hysteria.3 

Benefits of Chamomile in Anorexia Nervosa:

  • Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where a person experiences lack of appetite.
  • Chamomile oil vapours elevate mood, reduce nervousness, and stimulate the appetite and are thus used in persons with anorexia nervosa.3 

Benefits of Chamomile in Common Cold: 

Chamomile tea can be taken to relieve the symptoms of a common cold. Another way in which the plant can be used for this purpose is by boiling the flowers in water and inhaling the steam so produced.8 

Benefits of Chamomile for the Heart:  

  • It is said that persons who consume more flavonoids have a lesser risk of death due to coronary heart disease.
  • Chamomile has a good amount of flavonoids, but more studies must be done to validate how useful it is in preventing coronary heart disease.2 

Benefits of Chamomile for Diabetes: 

  • Chamomile has been found to help reduce blood sugar levels and diabetic complications by lowering blood sugar levels and increasing storage of liver glycogen.
  • Studies have also found it to be protective for the pancreas. However, more studies need to be done to determine its usefulness in the treatment of diabetes.2 

Benefits of Chamomile for the Gut:  

Consumption of chamomile tea between meals is useful to relieve heartburn, gastritis, gastric spasms (excessive gut muscle contraction), and flatulence.3,9 

Benefits of Chamomile for the Bones: 

In osteoporosis, where the bone mass reduces, chamomile extract stimulates the bone-forming cells by interacting with the estrogen receptors (anti-estrogen effect) and may help improve the condition.2 

Benefits of Chamomile for the Skin:   

  • In eczema, where there are patches of irritated, inflamed, and cracked skin, external application of chamomile has been found to be useful.
  • Chamomile is useful in case of bacterial infections, wounds, sunburns, corns, patchy areas on the scalp due to cradle caps used in infants, and skin irritation post-radiation therapy. Chamomile oil extract can be massaged, or a cloth can be soaked in chamomile tea and applied to the affected area.
  • It can also be used as a cosmetic due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.2,3 

Also Read: 16 Home Remedies for Glowing Skin

Benefits of Chamomile for Wound Healing:  

Its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions are proven to help in wound healing.2,10 

Benefits of Chamomile for Inflammatory Conditions:  

  • Chamomile is useful in reducing inflammatory pains like sciatica and neuralgias, any types of swellings like abscesses, inflammation of the vaginal lining (vaginitis), and lining of the mouth.
  • For relief in vaginitis, a chamomile douche may be used.2 

Benefits of Chamomile as an Antimicrobial: 

Chamomile has an antibacterial effect and is therefore useful for improving the health of the oral cavity.2 

Benefits of Chamomile in Cancer:  

  • Many animal studies have shown that chamomile aids in reduction in cancer growth. This is due to the apigenin chemical which is present in chamomile.
  • Currently, human studies are being conducted on cancer with chamomile extracts.9 

Benefits of Chamomile for the Kidneys: 

  • Chamomile is used for kidney stones and bladder stones alone or as a combination with other herbs in the Unani system of medicine in India.4 
  • Animal studies have demonstrated a mild increase in urine formation as the flowers of Roman chamomile show urine stimulating properties.4,11 

Also Read: Amaltas – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Benefit of Chamomile as a Mosquito Repellent:  

  • Studies have shown that the oil extract of chamomile has very good mosquito repellent activity.
  • Out of all the chamomile flower variants, the German chamomile has maximum mosquito repellent property.12 

Side Effects of Chamomile:   

US-FDA includes chamomile in its GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) list, but the safety in young children, during pregnancy or breastfeeding, in disease of the liver and kidney has yet to be established by conducting studies. Some of the know side effects are as follows:  

  • Contact dermatitis is a condition where a person develops itching, redness, and swelling on skin when they come in contact with something that their allergic to. This is seen as a side effect to many plants of the Compositae or Asteraceae family including chamomile. If a person is allergic to some plants of the same family like ragweed, chrysanthemums, etc., then the chances of contact dermatitis with chamomile are higher too.2 
  • Persons with a history of allergies like seasonal allergic rhinitis (stuffy nose due to allergies) or asthma, may develop conjunctivitis and swelling of the eyes on using chamomile applications around the eye or on consuming chamomile tea.2,13 
  • Consuming very concentrated tea can induce vomiting.2  
  • It can cause thinning of the blood leading to spontaneous bleeds in the body.14   
  • It is known to have a sedative effect; therefore, consumption in the morning, should be avoided if the person is expected to be carrying out activities like driving, using machinery, etc.15 

Also Read: Sarpagandha – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

How to Use Chamomile:   

  • Most commonly chamomile is consumed as tea; few flowers are added to boiling water for 5-10 min and strained. The clear liquid obtained is chamomile tea.3 
  • Essential oils obtained from flowers can be used via inhalation or as massage oils.  
  • A chamomile tincture is made by mixing flowers at room temperature in ethanol-water and then evaporated. Few drops of this are added to water and can be used for gargling.3 
  • Chamomile extract is prepared by a method just like the tincture with the only difference being the ratio of ethanol to water. 3 
  • Viscous chamomile extracts are added to make gels, ointments, and creams.3 
  • Dry chamomile extracts are used to make pills, capsules, and tablets.3 

Precautions to Take with Chamomile:     

Pregnancy: 

Chamomile is contraindicated in pregnancy as it may cause the uterus to contract and can induce an abortion or pre-term labour.16 

Breastfeeding Women: 

Safety during breastfeeding is not yet fully established; therefore, it shouldn’t be self-medicated. Consult a gynaecologist before taking any chamomile formulation.2 

Children/infants:  

Traditionally, chamomile has been used in infants and young children for various conditions, but safety data is not yet fully established. Therefore, one must avoid usage in this age group.2 

Interactions of Chamomile with Other Drugs:  

Anti-coagulant Drugs: 

Chamomile is a blood thinner and can lead to bleeds if given with anticoagulants e.g., warfarin.14 

Anti-platelet Drugs:  

As chamomile is a blood thinner, it is best avoided when the person is taking anti-platelet drugs e.g., aspirin, clopidogrel, etc.14 

Sedative Drugs: 

Chamomile is well known for reducing pain as it brings about calmness, and induces sleep; therefore, monitoring is needed if the person is already on drugs that slow down the brain e.g., sedatives or tranquilizers.15 

Drugs Metabolized by the Enzyme CYP-450: 

CYP-450 is an enzyme in the liver that metabolizes many drugs in the body like diazepam, amiodarone, etc. Thus, taking chamomile might increase the levels of these drugs in the body leading to toxicity. Therefore, caution is to be taken.15 

Also read: Shankhpushpi – Benefits, Side Effects, Precautions & Drug Interactions

Frequently Asked Questions:   

1) What is Chamomile Called in Hindi? 

In Hindi chamomile is called Babuna.1 

2) What does Chamomile Looks Like? 

The chamomile flower is the part that is used most, and it has a yellow center (1 – 1.5 cms wide) with white petals.5 

3) When to Harvest Chamomile? 

The flower of this plant should be harvested near full bloom which is for a period of 3 – 6 weeks during March-April.1, 17 

4) How Long Does Dried Chamomile Last? 

In an airtight glass at room temperature, chamomile can be stored for long-term.3 

5)  What is the Difference Between Chamomile and Daisy? 

Chamomile belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae or Compositae) which includes a lot more plants as well.4 

6) What is the Difference Between Chamomile and Dandelion?  

Chamomile (Matricari recutita) and Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) both belong to the same Asteraceae family but are different species.4,18 

7) What is the Difference between Chamomile and Feverfew? 

Chamomile (Matricari recutita) and Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) both belong to the same Asteraceae family but are different species.4,19 

8) Is Chamomile Caffeine-Free? 

Chamomile mainly contains vitamin A, vitamin B, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron copper, zinc, and has around 0.47g of carbohydrates but no caffeine. Therefore, it is caffeine-free.7 

9) Is Chamomile a Blood Thinner? 

Chamomile has some amount of coumarin which is a chemical that prevents blood from clotting; thus it is a blood thinner and not to be taken if patients are on anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs due to the risk of bleeding.14 

10) Does Chamomile Repel Mosquitoes? 

Chamomile contains chemicals that have insecticidal action. Therefore, can be used as a mosquito repellant.11 

11) Is Chamomile Good for Dogs? 

It is useful in dogs also, for various skin conditions.20 

12) Is Chamomile Good for Babies? 

Traditionally it has been in use in babies in the past but currently, the safety is not fully established therefore use must be avoided.2 

13) Is it Okay to Drink Chamomile Tea Every Day? 

Yes, in adults if they are not on medications that interact with Chamomile, pregnant, breastfeeding,  or taking drugs metabolized by CYP-450 enzyme, etc.2,15,16 

References:   

  1. Ompal Singh, Zakia Khanam; Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.): An overview. Pharmacognosy Reviews.  2011 Jan-June; 5 (9); 82-95. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51808400_Chamomile_Matricaria_chamomilla_L_An_overview  
  1. Janmejai K Srivastava, Eswar Shankar; Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Molecular Medicine Reports. 2010 August; 3 (6); 895-901. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/  
  1. American Botanical Council. Introduction to Chamomile [Internet]. Available from: http://abc.herbalgram.org/site/DocServer/CRCPRESSChamomile-Section_1.5978-1-4665-7759-6.pdf?docID=6362  
  1. American Botanical Council. Chamomile [Internet]. Available from: https://www.herbalgram.org/resources/herbalgram/issues/108/table-of-contents/hg108-herbpro-chamomile/  
  1. Jalal Bayati Zadeh, Nasroallah Moradi Kor; Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) As a Valuable Medicinal Plant. International Journal of Advanced Biological and Biomedical Research. 2014; 2 (3); 823-829. Available from: http://www.ijabbr.com/article_7246_42b235e991c2c3676a7df58e7f9ec739.pdf  
  1. University of Texas at El Paso. Herbal safety. [Internet]. Available from: https://www.utep.edu/herbal-safety/herbal-facts/herbal%20facts%20sheet/chamomile.html  
  1. University of Rochester Medical Center. Health Encyclopedia. [Internet]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=76&contentid=14545-3  
  1. ScienceDirect. Viral Upper Respiratory Infection. [Internet] Available from: https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/B9780323358682000189?token=3862BD8C3E3AE17DBE44B05FB580B38B24DD2784EE291203B1543F017EC833CD1BF673D9B020D988F2967D2616E2CFEF&originRegion=eu-west-1&originCreation=20220113174022  
  1. P.N. Ravindran, M. Divakaran; 27 – Other herbs and spices: achiote to Szechuan pepper. ScienceDirect. 2014 March; (); 534-556. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780857090409500278  
  1. Renata Kolanos, Szabina A. Stice; Chapter 44 – German chamomile. ScienceDirect. 2019 January; (); 757- 772. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128210383000446 
  1. Kawa F. Dizaye, Asma A. Otraqchy; Diuretic efficacy of Matricaria chamomilla in normotensive and salt-induced hypertensive rats.The Second International Conference College of Medicine, Iraq. 2018 November; 2 (); 360-372. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330541829_Diuretic_efficacy_of_Matricaria_chamomilla_in_normotensive_and_salt-induced_hypertensive_rats 
  1. Nurhayat Tabanca, Bora Demirci; Mosquito repellent activity of essential oils and extracts from chamomile flowers. Planta Medica. 2014 August; 80 (10); Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264159003_Mosquito_repellent_activity_of_essential_oils_and_extracts_from_Chamomile_flowers 
  1. Frederick T. Fraunfelder; PART 9 – Herbal medicine and dietary supplement induced ocular side effects. ScienceDirect. 2008 February; (); 307-313. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9781416046738100099 
  1. ScienceDirect. Health Benefits of Traditional Culinary and Medicinal Mediterranean Plants. [Internet] Available from: https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/B9780123742285000263?token=F25BC2C775101358E4E2C497FC7C34F0E795DA53822081BA696F57EFFE574BED171DBA571F0033CD17E07D73722A7253&originRegion=eu-west-1&originCreation=20220113182328 
  1. Adrienne Juarascio, Norma G. Cuellar; Chapter 9 – Alternative Therapeutics for Sleep Disorders. ScienceDirect. 2011 November; (); 126-139. Available From: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978143771703710009X 
  1. George M. Kapalka; Chapter 8 – Anxiety Disorders. ScienceDirect. 2010 May; (); 219-258. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012374927700008X 
  1.  Wisconsin Horticulture. Chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla. [Internet]. Available from: https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/chamomile-matricaria-chamomilla/  
  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Dandelion. [Internet]. Available from: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/dandelion  
  1. Anil Pareek, Manish Suthar; Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systematic review. Pharmacognosy Review; 2012 Jan-Jun; 5 (9); 103-110. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210009/  
  1. Milena Tresch, Meike mevissen; Medicinal plants as therapeutic options for topical treatment in canine dermatology? A systematic review. 2019 May; 15 (1); 1-19. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6537371/ 

Disclaimer:

The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.





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