Chamomile tea is one of the most popular teas on the planet, with over a million cups consumed worldwide every day – usually at bedtime. While it’s not likely to give coffee or any of the black teas a run for their money in the best-selling category anytime soon, its popularity isn’t very likely to fade either!
This power-packed superflower has been used in traditional medicine through the world to cure a myriad of conditions from acute and chronic anxiety, toothaches and gingivitis, stomach and digestive upset, and more. Now, science has caught up with this age-old remedy and began to do further testing to find out what other remedies and health benefits the flower can offer.
Loosely translated, “chamomile” stands for “ground flower” in Greek. It can be consumed either by making a delicious and soothing tea from the dried stems and petals, or by consuming a concentrate containing the purest form of the nutrient-packed essential oil it contains.
Main Active Ingredients
The essential oil in chamomile is made up of a number of stabilizing and revitalizing nutrients:
• First, the terpene “bisabolol” is an effective anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, and anti-microbial – essentially it reduces inflammation, doesn’t cause irritation of any kind and helps to disinfect whatever it comes in contact with. German chamomile is thought to be the only noteworthy natural source of this compound.
• Chamomile contains four known flavonoids (apigenin, quercetin, patuletin and luteolin). Flavonoids are a touchy subject when it comes to health benefits. Mostly because many companies use the term to hype up their products and tote them as the cure for every known ailment under the sun. Several studies have shown them to be a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
• Chamazulene has shown itself to be an effective anti-inflammatory, and chamomile is one of only three plants that contain it.
• Farnesene is the last ingredient, which has no known health benefits, but is responsible for the apple smell given off by the plant.
• Coumarin helps to naturally thin blood, much in the same way prescription blood thinners do.
The 2 Types of Homeopathic Camomile
The chamomile flower grows wherever temperate (ie., longer, warm summers) conditions exist. There are many genus of the flower to be found, but the following two are considered to have the most potent homeopathic benefits to health.
1. German chamomile (Matricaria recutita):
The German chamomile flower is mainly found growing naturally in the wild and prefers sandy, moist soil. Despite the name, it’s found all over Europe and has also been introduced to certain areas of American and Australia too. It has an “apple-like” scent and looks very much like a daisy flower. This is thought to be the most potent of the 2 homeopathic varieties, and is typically more expensive to buy because it has to be scavenged for in the wild or grown in fields using very specific soil conditions.
2. Roman/English chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile):
This variety of the flower is much easier to find than the German variety, as it’s found both in the wild and growing naturally around people’s homes and is also a quite popular flower to be grown in gardens. This is the type of chamomile you’ll likely find in most chamomile tea blends and is also used quite regularly in extract supplements too.
Top 5 Chamomile Supplements
|Brand||Nature’s Way||Hyland’s Homeopathic||Now Foods||Frontier||Sierra|
|Overall Rating||5 / 5||5 / 5||4.5 / 5||4.5 / 5||3.0 / 5|
|Serving Size||1 Capsule||1 Tablet||1 Drop||2 tsp||2 tsp|
|Effectiveness||5 / 5||5 / 5||3.0 / 5||4.0 / 5||3.0 / 5|
|Quality||5 / 5||5 / 5||5 / 5||5 / 5||3.0 / 5|
|Taste||5 / 5||5 / 5||–||5 / 5||4.0 / 5|
|Digestibility||5 / 5||5 / 5||3.0 / 5||4.0 / 5||3.0 / 5|
1.Improved Quality Sleep:
The sedative effects of chamomile are perhaps, the most well-known of all the flower’s benefits. It’s believed to be because of the flavanoid, apigenin, binding to the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain and causing a deep state of relaxation. Prescription relaxants like Valium create a calming effect in the brain and body by way of the same process, though they’re more powerful than chamomile of course.(1)
2.Natural Blood Thinner:
Heart attack and stroke patients take low dose Aspirin every day because of its high concentrations of coumarins. Chamomile is also very rich is coumarins which help to prevent clotting in the blood (make sure to read “Potential Drug Interactions” further down the page).(2)
Aside from the blood thinning coumarins in chamomile, the anti-inflammatory terpine bisabolol, along with chamazulene (found only in German chamomile), and healthy doses of flavonoids all help to prevent oxidation and inflammation inside our arteries. Oxidation and inflammation are two key factors in the development of high blood pressure and heart disease. Flavonoids have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease when consumed regularly (source).
Chamomile tea was used to ease the pain and discomfort of teething and colic symptoms in babies long before the lab-made varieties you’ll find on the shelf of your local drug store were. It’s very effective too, especially when used in concentrated form such as the homeopathic “Hyland’s Chamomilla” suggested further down the page.
Cancer is a disease caused by uncontrolled inflammation that causes affected cells to mutate and grow uncontrollably. Chamomile’s inflammation-fighting compounds can definitely help to prevent cancers of all kinds. Few studies have been performed with regard to treating cancers using just chamomile tea on its own, instead using concentrated flavonoid apigenin extracted from the tea. Studies like this one show that it definitely has antiproliferative and apoptotic effects on existing cancer cells.
Apigenin, as mentioned, binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain and causes an all-over mind and body calming effect approximately 60 – 90 minutes after being consumed in adequate doses. Certain studies have been performed with regard to people drinking the steeped tea which indicate inhaling the oils from the tea has a profound aromatherapeutic effect on calming the mind and body too.(3)
7.Strengthens Immune System:
When inflammation is reduced throughout the body, the immune system doesn’t have to work as hard, since it’s responsible for helping to fight off foreign invaders and eliminating the infections that often occur when excessive inflammatory responses are happening throughout the body unchecked. A European study performed in 1990 showed that inhalation of chamomile tea vapor in people suffering from the common cold helped to reduce symptoms and led to faster turnover of the illness.(4)(5)
8.Calming Digestive Aid:
Chamomile has been used as a tonic for years to combat the symptoms of a variety of gastrointestinal conditions including stomach upset, excess gas, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, stomach ulcers and GERD. The flower’s effects on the digestive tract are two-fold. First, it helps to naturally reduce the levels of acid and accumulated gas in the stomach. Second, it relaxes the muscles inside the stomach and also those responsible for moving food through the intestines.
9.Menstrual Cramp Relief:
Due to its relaxing effect on the body, chamomile tea or extract supplements are a perfect natural menstrual cramp reliever and have been used for this purpose for thousands of years in many cultures.(6)
10.Topical Irritation Reliever:
Since chamomile is a powerful antioxidant and anti-microbial, it’s perfect for minor skin irritations like allergic outbreaks, cuts, abrasions, insect stings, and even more severe skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Steep the tea as directed further down the page and rub liberally on affected skin.(7)(8)
11.Hemorrhoid and Proctalgia Fugax Reliever:
The brewed tea can be applied to hemorrhoids for instant relief, and even used as a natural enema solution for relief from internal hemorrhoids or when sudden, unbearably painful proctalgia fugax outbreaks occur.(9)(10)
12.All Natural Skin and Hair Lightener:
Using brewed chamomile tea in conjunction with 30 minutes of sun exposure helps to bring out the natural highlights in your hair. It’s a great solution to hair dyes and peroxides which can damage hair and make it weak. Steep 3 – 5 bags of chamomile tea in 500ml of water and put it in a spray bottle after cooling. Generously spray the tea in hair before going out and then again every ten minutes you spend in the sun. Repeat for a few days to a week and you should start to see results quickly.
How Much Should You Take?
There is currently no standard dosing instructions for chamomile.
The standard range used for extracts in the various health studies that have been performed is 400 – 1600mg a day. As long as you aren’t taking any of the drugs listed below, follow the instructions provided on the back of the supplement bottles you buy, and ramp up the dosage to 1600mg if you don’t experience any unwanted side effects.
As far as the tea goes, drink as much as you like – again, provided you don’t fall into any risk categories (ask your doctor if you wish to drink the tea and you’re taking any of the drugs listed in the next section).
Tea Brewing Instructions:
Put the tea bag or loose tea in a cup of hot water and cover it with a saucer for 5 – 15 minutes while it’s steeping. Failing to use a saucer will let the essential oils in the flower evaporate before they have a chance to infuse with the water. This is an important step whether you’re brewing the tea for consumption or to be used as a topical hydrocortisone cream replacement or additive.
Potential Drug Interactions
Any plant or product that offers health-boosting benefits always holds the potential to interact with certain medications. Some of these warnings listed are only theoretical and not yet proven, while others have laboratory science to back them.
Keep in mind that the warnings below only apply to daily consumption of chamomile and the listed medications. If you’re an occasional drinker (3 times weekly), you shouldn’t expect to have any problems. Still, as I always suggest, contact your doctor if you’re taking any meds that chamomile may interfere with.
1.Over the Counter Anticoagulants
While the interactions between chamomile tea and aspirin haven’t been studied at length, because of the coumarin content it contains, chamomile could present an increased bleeding risk for people who take low-dose aspirin to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke.
2.Prescription Platelet Inhibitors and Anticoagulants
As you’ve already learned, chamomile does a wonderful job of thinning the blood naturally due to its high concentrations of coumarins. When mixed with platelet inhibitors like Ticlid or Plavix, the potential for excess bleeding is a definite reality. The potential for interference with anticoagulants, thrombin and antithrombin inhibitors, Heparin and its derivatives, and any other prescription anticoagulants or platelet inhibitors is always a possibility when taking chamomile or any other coumarin-containing substance. Ask your doctor what they think about the risk of mixing the two, and whether those risks are worth the rewards offered by daily consumption of the herb.
The CYP1A2 enzyme in the body that metabolizes (ie., gets rid of) many antidepressant medications in the body appears to be inhibited by chamomile tea. As CYP1A2 is inhibited over time, toxic levels of antidepressant meds can build in the body over time. Ask your doctor if your medication relies on CYP1A2 to be metabolized before deciding to consume chamomile regularly.
4.Certain Blood Pressure Meds
As with many of the medications listed, the popular beta blocker Propanolol is removed from the body using the enzyme CYP1A2. As you might have already guessed, you must speak to your doctor before mixing chamomile with this medication on a regular basis.
It should go without saying that any tea associated with bed time can make you drowsy. While most people can drink it anytime of the day and function just fine, if you mix it with anything that’s known to cause drowsiness, there’s always a good chance that chamomile will strengthen the effects of other medications or herbal concoctions and make you even more sleepy.
The bronchodilator, Theophylline also relies on the CYP1A2 enzyme to shuttle the drug out of the body to prevent toxic levels from accumulating in the body. No studies exist to support this fact, but if you’re taking this drug for a lung condition, it’s important to ask your doctor how often you should be mixing the two.
The Alzheimer’s medication, Tacrine, also uses CYP1A2 to be metabolized in the body. As with other meds that rely on the enzyme for removal from the body, toxic levels may accumulate with regular use of chamomile, which has been shown to block it.
Chamomile Supplement Reviews
Nature’s Way Chamomile Flowers , 350 mg, 100 Capsules
This concentrated formulation from Nature’s Way uses the most potent German chamomile to help relax your stomach and digestive tract after meals and before bedtime. Each gelatin capsule contains 350mg of the best chamomile nature has to offer, and has absolutely no other ingredients added as fillers. These guys are consistently rated as one of the best natural health supplement manufacturers on the planet and I highly recommend them on both price and quality value.
Hyland’s Chamomilla, 30X, 250 Tablets
This highly concentrated 30X teething and colic formula is made to stringent Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia standards and is just what’s needed when the “cranky” warning signs of early teething begin in your infant. Hylands takes pride in their quality standards and use only all-natural ingredients. One thing I want to mention here is that the bottle indicates there are no side effects to giving this to your baby: Do keep in mind that there are no side effects when given alone. Please don’t combine 30X with baby aspirin, which is also often given for tooth pain and to treat colicky symptoms.
Best Chamomile Oil
Now Foods Chamomile Oil
This Now Foods extract contains 100% pure Roman chamomile oil. It doesn’t have the chamazulene of its German counterpart, however, this 1 ounce bottle will go a long ways and is still chocked full of relaxing and anti-inflammatory polyphenols and coumarin. You can use this product as an additive in foods and your favorite teas, while dually being able to add it to your favorite skin lotions and aromatherapy mixtures.
Best Chamomile Tea
Frontier Chamomile Flowers, German Whole Certified Organic, 16 Ounce Bag
This is a kosher certified, organic 1-pound bulk bag of unground German chamomile flowers from the wilds of Croatia. You won’t find a better deal on this chamazulene-rich variety of chamomile anywhere. This is as bare bones as you get and you’ll likely want to get yourself a coffee grinder to process the tea for steeping, but the freshness, cost savings and the fact that you won’t have to buy anymore for a while make it worth the little extra effort.
Sierra Tea Dried Roman Chamomile Buds (Herbal Tea 100g)
This is yet another bulk deal for those of you who like to process the stems and flowers yourself. It’s Roman chamomile, not German. This small 1 ounce bag is perfect for the lightweight chamomile drinker who drinks the tea for occasional digestive upset, who doesn’t need an entire pound lying around the house for years at a time.
The chamomile flower has a host of health benefits due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects in, and outside the body. Taking it daily is a great way to relax, get better sleep, reduce your chances of getting heart disease and cancer, and may just make for a potent natural alternative to many heart medications if you’re not a fan of the side effects that often come with pharmaceuticals.
Why not brew up a cup right now?