What is chamomile?
Chamomile is a family of daisy-like plants. Active ingredients in chamomile include the essential oil bisabolol and plant nutrients called flavonoids.
The chamomile flower is dried and used as tea or in a capsule or applied topically as an extract.
Of the many species of chamomile, just 2 are typically used in dietary supplements: Matricaria chamomilla and Chamaemelum nobile.
Chamomile is most often consumed as a tea to reduce anxiety.
What claims are made about chamomile?
People most often take chamomile as a mild sedative or antidepressant to treat anxiety Overview of Anxiety Disorders Anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, worry, or unease that is a normal human experience. It is also present in a wide range of mental health conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder... read more or depression Depression Depression is a feeling of sadness and/or a decreased interest or pleasure in activities that becomes a disorder when it is intense enough to interfere with functioning. It may follow a recent... read more and/or improve sleep quality Overview of Sleep Sleep is necessary for survival and good health, but why sleep is needed and exactly how it benefits people are not fully understood. One of sleep's benefits is its restorative effect on people's... read more . People also take chamomile to
Relieve gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) In gastroesophageal reflux disease, stomach contents, including acid and bile, flow backward from the stomach into the esophagus, causing inflammation in the esophagus and pain in the bottom... read more (GERD), and indigestion
People apply a compress of chamomile extract to soothe irritated skin (such as from eczema Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) Atopic dermatitis (commonly referred to as eczema) is chronic, itchy inflammation of the upper layers of the skin that often develops in people who have hay fever or asthma and in people who... read more , poison ivy, diaper rash, and chickenpox), treat ear and eye infections, and relieve stomach, back, or muscle pain.
People use chamomile to treat colic Colic Colic refers to a specific pattern of excessive, intense crying and fussing that occurs without any apparent reason (for example, hunger, illness, or injury) in otherwise healthy infants. Colic... read more , croup Croup Croup is an inflammation of the windpipe (trachea) and voice box (larynx) typically caused by a contagious viral infection that causes cough, a loud squeaking noise (stridor), and sometimes... read more , and fevers in children Fever in Infants and Children Normal body temperature varies from person to person and throughout the day (it is typically highest in the afternoon). Normal body temperature is higher in preschool-aged children and highest... read more .
Proponents also claim that chamomile helps prevent cancer and heart disease.
Does chamomile work?
The scientific evidence supporting any use of chamomile is weak. However, some evidence shows chamomile may have a small effect in improving sleep quality and helping to relieve anxiety and depression.
What are the possible side effects of chamomile?
Chamomile is generally considered safe. The most likely side effect is an allergic reaction, especially in people who are allergic to ragweed or sunflowers. Allergic reactions may include skin irritation, itchy eyes, sneezing, and runny nose. People very rarely have a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
What drug interactions occur with chamomile?
Chamomile may reduce the absorption of some drugs taken by mouth. Chamomile may also increase the effects of drugs that prevent blood clots (anticoagulants) and sedatives (including alcohol) and decrease the absorption of iron supplements. Chamomile could interfere with the effects of tamoxifen, hormone replacement therapy, and estrogen-containing oral contraceptives.
Chamomile may help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve sleep quality, but the effects are likely to be small. Chamomile appears to be reasonably safe.
People taking anticoagulants (such as warfarin), sedatives (including alcohol), iron supplements, tamoxifen, hormone replacement therapy, and estrogen-containing oral contraceptives should talk to their doctor before using chamomile.