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Chamomile

By

Laura Shane-McWhorter

, PharmD, University of Utah College of Pharmacy

Last full review/revision Jan 2022| Content last modified Jan 2022
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION

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 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 Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) , poison ivy, diaper rash, and chickenpox), treat ear and eye infections, and relieve stomach, back, or muscle pain.

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.

Recommendations

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.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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