Chamomile is a familiar herb to many, and chamomile tea is a popular non-caffeinated herbal drink known to help with sleep. While chamomile is one of the best herbs to use for a good night's rest, there are many more benefits of chamomile.
Belonging to the daisy family, chamomile flowers possess a gentle yet powerful medicinal effect.
This herb has been used at least since the time of Hippocrates (500 BC) and is still valued by herbalists today. Here's more about chamomile and how it can benefit you.
What is Chamomile?
There are two main types of chamomile used medicinally and cosmetically: Roman and German. Both have similar properties and have been used for thousands of years for health and beauty.
The plant itself is native to western Europe and northern Africa but is now grown around the world.
In fact, chamomile is easy to grow from seed in the garden and can be harvested fresh in early spring and late fall. The flowers are the main part used medicinally, but the leaves are also edible.
Chamomile is one of the oldest and most well documented medicinal herbs. (1) It's been used in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine and remains a popular and effective remedy today.
Here's more about the benefits of chamomile and how to use it for your health.
Benefits of Chamomile
Helps You Sleep Better
Chamomile contains a compound called apigenin that can bind to receptors in the brain and induce sleepiness. (1) This explains why it's one of the most used and most popular natural sleep remedies.
Drinking chamomile tea before bedtime can have benefits for both your ability to fall asleep and your sleep quality. It's also a gentle enough herb to give to children who may have trouble sleeping.
One study found that a group of postpartum women who drank chamomile tea for two weeks had better sleep quality than those who didn't. The same study also found that those who drank the tea had fewer symptoms of depression. (2)
To help with sleep, you can drink a cup of chamomile tea an hour or two before bedtime.
Or you can take it along with other sleep herbs in a blend like this Sweet Slumber Tea.
Calms Stress and Anxiety
Along with improving sleep quality, chamomile is also one of the best herbs for easing anxiety and chronic stress.
The same compounds that are beneficial for sleep also help to calm the nervous system, relieving stress and anxious feelings. Drinking chamomile tea throughout the day is a simple way to relieve stress.
Using chamomile aromatically as an essential oil or in a bath tea can also be very effective for stress relief and possibly symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Promotes Healthy Skin
Chamomile is a popular ingredient to use in natural skincare because of its many benefits for skin.
It soothes skin, has an anti-inflammatory effect, and has antioxidant properties that keep skin looking youthful. Chamomile has also shown antimicrobial properties that promote wound healing and can help irritated skin. (1)(5)
You can make a tea with chamomile and apply to inflamed or irritated skin. Or you can mix chamomile essential oil with a lotion or cream and apply to skin.
Calms Inflammation and Pain
Chamomile flowers contain a volatile oil called azulene, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. (Rosemary Gladstar. Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide, pg. 118)
It has also been found to possess pain-relieving properties, confirming its traditional use to relieve arthritis pain, headaches, and skin inflammation. (6)
Chamomile tea can help to relieve both menstrual cramps and the anxiety that can go along with changing hormone levels. (7) Used in an herbal sitz bath blend, chamomile is a safe herb to relieve postpartum pain and soreness.
Supports and Soothes Digestion
Chamomile has many soothing benefits for the digestive tract and has often been used as a remedy to relieve nausea, diarrhea, and indigestion.
Along with its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, chamomile also acts as an anti-spasmodic that can help with stomach cramps and pain. It has shown promise at preventing stomach ulcers. (8)
Because of its gentleness and pleasant flavor, chamomile is often a favored remedy for helping children with digestive issues. Using chamomile extract or oil applied the stomach can help relieve colic as well.
May Fight Cancer
One of the main compounds in chamomile, apigenin, is a powerful antioxidant (which is one of the things that makes chamomile so beneficial for skin).
Largely because of its antioxidant properties, chamomile is showing promise in studies as a natural anticancer agent. (1) Antioxidants are also key to overall health and preventing certain chronic diseases.
Other Benefits of Chamomile
Chamomile tea has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for those with Type 2 diabetes. It can also lower cholesterol levels when consumed regularly. (9)
Chamomile tea is also filled with flavonoids, which have been shown to lower the risk of death from heart disease and to lower blood pressure. (10)
Finally, the antioxidants and other active compounds in chamomile can help to boost immune health. Drinking the tea throughout the winter may help your body to fight off infection.
Ways to Use Chamomile
One of the easiest ways to use chamomile for its health benefits is to make a tea.
Simply use 1-2 teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers and add 1 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 10-15 minutes before straining out the flowers. Sweeten if desired and drink as needed throughout the day.
To relieve stress and anxiety, chamomile is also a good herb to use in a herbal bath. You can use it on its own or combine it with other herbs like lemon balm, rose petals, or lavender.
Just add the herbs you want to an old nylon or a large muslin bag and attach it where the hot water will run through it. Let the "tea bag" steep in the bath with you and enjoy the relaxing effect.
Chamomile is also available as an extract and essential oil.
Precautions and Side Effects
Chamomile is a very safe and gentle herb to use, but it can cause an allergic reaction, especially in those who are allergic to plants in the daisy family.
It also contains a compound called coumarin that may have an anticoagulant effect and should not be combined with blood thinners.
Talk to your healthcare professional before using if you have any concerns or are dealing with a medical condition.
Start Getting the Benefits of Chamomile
Chamomile remains one of the most popular herbs used as a natural remedy, and its gentle nature makes it beneficial for many different kinds of people.
A cup of chamomile tea or a chamomile bath has many benefits for your overall health. Try out this lovely herb and discover its soothing nature for yourself!