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Could Chamomile Help You?

Chamomile is a popular tea! Is there any scientific evidence that it actually improves one’s health? What conditions does chamomile help? Is regular consumption of chamomile wise? Are there some cautions and contraindications for use of chamomile?

The popular herb chamomile comes from the daisy-like flowers of the Asteraceae plant family. For centuries, chamomile has been valued for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Test tube studies show that chamomile exerts moderate antioxidant and antimicrobial activities while demonstrating significant antiplatelet activities. In other words, chamomile exerts mild blood thinning activity.1

Anti-inflammatory Agent

Chamomile possesses at least four known anti-inflammatory constituents.2  This herb reduces COX-2 enzyme, a major player in inflammation.3 Because chamomile’s flavonoids and essential oils penetrate below the skin surface into the deeper skin layers, chamomile can help to alleviate skin inflammation when applied topically.4 Topical applications of chamomile have been shown 60% as effective as 0.25% hydrocortisone cream for atrophic eczema. 5 Chamomile, applied topically, enhances wound healing in the skin. 6 Chamomile is often found in cosmetic preparations because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Joint Pain Relief

A randomized, placebo controlled study demonstrated that drinking two cups of chamomile tea a day for 42 days reduced the severity of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.7 Other studies showed that topical applications of chamomile oil reduced the pain and improved the physical function of individuals who had osteoarthritis in the knee. 8

Twenty-six patients with documented severe carpal tunnel syndrome all wore a night splint. Half of the study’s participants applied chamomile oil topically whereas the others used a placebo oil for four weeks. Chamomile oil improved symptomatic and functional status of patients with severe carpal tunnel syndrome even though electrodiagnostic parameters showed no significant changes between the two groups. 9 Further studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of chamomile oil for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Digestive Aid

Chamomile tea is useful as a mouthwash because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and may help oral lesions. 10,11 Additionally, chamomile is especially helpful in dispelling gas, soothing the stomach, and relaxing the muscles that move food through the intestines. 12 This herb also exerts anti-diarrhea effects. 13 Studies suggest that chamomile ointment may improve hemorrhoids. Tinctures of chamomile can also be used in a sitz bath. 14

Anxiety Smoother

Chamomile may help anxiety. Subjects with moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) received open-label treatment with pharmaceutical-grade chamomile extract 1,500 mg/day for up to 8 weeks. Chamomile extract produced a clinically meaningful reduction in GAD symptoms over 8 weeks with a response rate comparable to those observed during conventional anxiolytic drug therapy and a favorable adverse event profile. 15

A double-blinded, placebo-substitution designed study showed that long-term chamomile was safe and significantly reduced moderate-to-severe GAD symptoms. But it did not significantly reduce rate of relapse.16

A Woman’s Friend

A review of eight randomized, controlled trials showed that the phytochemicals in chamomile exert anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, antispasmodic, and sedative phytochemicals that significantly help painful menstruation, anxiety, and psychological problems in women who have premenstrual symptoms (PMS).17 Chamomile tea may be used to reduce depression and improve sleep problems for postpartum women. 18

Chamomile and Diabetes

There is some evidence that suggests chamomile helps type 2 diabetes. Researchers studied the effects of chamomile on 64 participants with type 2 diabetes aged between 30 and 60. They consumed chamomile tea three times per day immediately after meals for eight weeks. A control group also followed this routine but they drank water instead. The chamomile tea group had significantly reduced HbA1c and serum insulin levels, total cholesterol levels and triglycerides (blood fats) compared to those in the control group. 19 Another study indicated that this amount of chamomile tea significantly decreased several inflammatory markers and improved insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes.20 As prevalent as diabetes is, larger studies are warranted.

Early evidence (rat study) suggests that chamomile significantly inhibits the enzyme aldose reductase (ALR2) and the sugar alcohol, sorbitol, endogenously produced from glucose.21 These are contributors to long-term diabetic complications such as blindness from diabetic retinopathy, chronic kidney disease, and neuropathy.

Contraindications:

People sensitive to ragweed and chrysanthemums or other members of the Compositae family are more prone to develop contact allergies to chamomile. Eye washing with chamomile tea in hay fever patients who have conjunctivitis exacerbates the eye inflammation, whereas no worsening of eye inflammation was noted when chamomile tea was ingested orally.22. Chamomile contains a small amount of the blood thinner, coumarin. Individuals on blood thinners should not use this herb. Discontinue the use of chamomile two weeks prior to dental work or surgery. Chamomile reduces iron absorption. Individual who have low levels of iron should not use chamomile.

Conclusions:

Chamomile is a very useful herb, but it has a few contraindications. We recommend organically grown chamomile instead of regular chamomile if one uses it on a regular basis. Always consult with a pharmacist before using any herbal products if you are taking medicine.

© 2020, Wildwood Sanitarium. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.

Sources

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  2. Srivastava JK. Chamomile, a novel and selective COX-2 inhibitor with anti-inflammatory activity. Life Sci. 2009 Nov 4; 85(19-20): 663–669.
  3. Srivastava JK. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Report. 2010 Nov 1; 3(6): 895–901. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/#R37
  4. Merfort I. In vivo skin penetration studies of chamomile flavones. Pharmazie. 1994; 49:509–51
  5. Albring M. The measuring of the antiinflammatory effect of a compound on the skin of volunteers. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 1983 Oct; 5(8):575-7.
  6. Glowania HJ.Effect of chamomile on wound healing–a clinical double-blind study]. Z Hautkr. 1987 Sep 1; 62(17):1262, 1267-71. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3318194/
  7. Pirouzpanah Saeed. The effect of chamomile tea consumption on inflammation among rheumatoid arthritis patients: randomized clinical trial. Supplement: Nutraceutical and Medicinal Plants: Vol. 19 No. 1-S (2017). https://www.mattioli1885journals.com/index.php/progressinnutrition/article/view/5171
  8. . Ruhollah Shoarah.  Efficacy and safety of topical Matricaria chamomilla L. (chamomile) oil for knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Randomized Controlled Trial Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2015 Aug;21(3):181-7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26256137
  9. Hashempur M.H. A pilot randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial on topical chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) oil for severe carpal tunnel syndrome. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2015 Nov;21(4):223-8.
  10. Batista AL. Clinical efficacy analysis of the mouth rinsing with pomegranate and chamomile plant extracts in the gingival bleeding reduction. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2014; 20(1):93–8.
  11. Bahare Salehi. Plant-Derived Bioactives in Oral Mucosal Lesions:A Key Emphasis to Curcumin, Lycopene, Chamomile, Aloe vera, Green Tea and Coffee Properties. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6468600/pdf/biomolecules-09-00106.pdf
  12. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/
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  16. Mao JJ.Long-term Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) treatment for generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized clinical trial. Phytomedicine. 2016 Dec 15; 23(14): 1735–1742
  17. Zahra Bostani Khalesi. Efficacy of Chamomile in the Treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome: A Systematic Review. J Pharmacopuncture. 2019 Dec; 22(4): 204–209.
  18. Chang SM, Chen CH. Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women: a randomized controlled trial. J Adv Nurs. 2016;72(2):306–15.
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