Chamomile is widely known and used for its ability to soothe the nerves and calm the body. However, this flower boasts several other lesser-known but equally powerful health benefits. As a natural remedy, it can treat ailments beyond insomnia or nerves, such as PMS symptoms, inflammation, diarrhea, nausea, and gas. With over 100 bioactive substances contributing to chamomile’s benefits, it’s a rich source of antioxidants and even has antimicrobial qualities.
What is Chamomile?
Chamomile is a daisy-like flower native to Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America. Chamomile is known to have been used as medicine from as early as 500 BC. It was prescribed for fever in the medieval age and is used as a remedy for colic in babies to this day. Chamomile flowers must be steeped instead of boiled to make tea, to preserve its antioxidants. You can also take chamomile powder in capsule form or drink a chamomile tincture. Chamomile tea is mild as opposed to bitter, with a slightly sweet undertone, a silky texture, and a floral aroma.
Types of Chamomile
There are different types of chamomile, including German chamomile, Roman chamomile, English chamomile, and Egyptian chamomile. German chamomile is the most common kind brewed as medicinal tea. German chamomile is more concentrated in the bioactive compounds of chamomile, and it boasts a smoother taste.
9 Benefits of Chamomile
There are many reasons to enjoy chamomile tea beyond its taste and soothing effect. Here are 9 things chamomile can do to transform human health, according to science:
1. Huge Source of Antioxidants
Chamomile flowers contain high levels of antioxidants, including flavonoids, phenols, and terpenoids. Free radicals from the environment and natural metabolic processes can damage DNA when not balanced by antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and prevent this damage, which is known as oxidative stress–a precursor to many chronic diseases. The antioxidants in chamomile help keep your cells young, and they protect your heart, brain, and other vital organs against chronic diseases.
2. Combats Diarrhea
Chamomile was traditionally used as a natural remedy for diarrhea, and modern research seems to have confirmed its effectiveness. In a lab study, chamomile extract was found to stop diarrhea in rats through its antioxidant enzyme activities. Meanwhile, a clinical trial on children with diarrhea found that chamomile extract improved symptoms.
3. Helps Fight Anxiety and Depression
Chamomile has a mild sedative effect that can be helpful in alleviating anxiety and soothing the nerves in the face of stress. In a study on 57 participants with depression and anxiety, 220 mg of chamomile per day taken in capsule form decreased symptoms significantly better than a placebo in all participants.
4. Improves Sleep Quality
The quality of your sleep includes how long it takes you to fall asleep (ideally less than 20 minutes), and how long you stay asleep (ideally one interruption per night at most). Stress and anxiety can cause trouble falling asleep or sleeping soundly. An antioxidant in chamomile known as apigenin binds to benzodiazepine receptors in your brain to produce tranquilizing effects.
In a 28-day study on insomnia patients, 270 mg of chamomile taken twice daily improved sleep quality and daytime functioning. Even if you don’t suffer from insomnia, taking chamomile could potentially help you get more out of your night’s sleep.
5. Reduces Inflammation
According to research published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, chamomile binds to receptors that regulate your inflammatory response. In addition to its anti-spasmodic qualities, chamomile’s anti-inflammatory action is part of how it soothes the gut. In traditional medicine, chamomile flowers were prepared in salves or ointments for the skin to treat inflammatory conditions like rashes and eczema.
Chronic inflammation in the body is linked to a wide range of diseases, from cancer to heart disease. Herbs like chamomile that lower inflammation can potentially lower your risk for these common diseases.
6. Alleviates Menstrual Cramps
Drinking chamomile can be helpful for menstruating women. According to a review of studies that examined the effects of chamomile on menstrual pain and bleeding, chamomile in daily doses ranging 250 to 500 mg per day effectively reduced pain and bleeding volume. In fact, chamomile was more effective in relieving pain than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
Heavy menstrual bleeding can be caused by excess production of prostaglandins — hormone-like substances that control uterine contraction. Chamomile seems to work by balancing the body’s prostaglandin production to reduce heavy bleeding.
7. Relieves Gas and Bloating
A popular benefit of chamomile is its ability to relieve gas, flatulence, indigestion, and bloating when you’re in a pinch. A cup or two of chamomile tea can help ease most symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, which is why chamomile is often included in herbal remedy blends for irritable bowel syndrome. Whether you get an occasional stomachache or you’re struggling with a gut-related illness, chamomile can probably help. It’s also used to relieve colic in babies.
8. May Help Prevent Cancer
The antioxidant in chamomile called apigenin serves the function in chamomile to protect the plant against ultraviolet radiation. As it turns out, this compound can also potentially help protect humans against melanoma. In fact, chamomile has shown wide-ranging anti-cancer actions in multiple types of cancers, including prostate, bone, lung, breast, and colon cancer. While research has only been done in test tubes and petri dishes so far, it points to the possibility that the apigenin in chamomile could help prevent cancer in healthy individuals.
9. Protects Metabolic Health
Research shows that chamomile can lower high blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. In one study, three cups of chamomile tea per day were shown to improve blood sugar levels within eight weeks. Drinking chamomile tea with meals could potentially help healthy individuals protect against blood sugar spikes that put you at risk of developing metabolic diseases like diabetes.
Chamomile’s Many Benefits and Uses
Chamomile tea is one of the most versatile natural remedies to keep at your home. Its smooth, floral taste makes it easy to enjoy on a daily basis, and doing so gives you long-term health benefits, including disease prevention. When you need help settling an anxious mind or getting to sleep when you’re stressed, chamomile can also help.
- “Antioxidant and anticancer activities of chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.)” by Bayan Al-Dabbagh, Ismail A. Elhaty, Mohamed Elhaw, Chandraprabha Murali, Ameera Al Mansoori, Basma Awad and Amr Amin, 3 January 2019, BMC Research Notes.
- “Antidiarrheal and antioxidant activities of chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) decoction extract in rats” by Hichem Sebai, Mohamed-Amine Jabri, Abdelaziz Souli, Kais Rtibi, Slimen Selmi, Olfa Tebourbi, Jamel El-Benn and MohsenSakly, 22 January 2014, Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
- “Double-blind, randomized evaluation of clinical efficacy and tolerability of an apple pectin-chamomile extract in children with unspecific diarrhea” by Brigitta Becker, Ulrike Kuhn and Bettina Hardewig-Budny, 2006, Arzneimittelforschung Drug Research.
- “Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may provide antidepressant activity in anxious, depressed humans: an exploratory study” by Jay D Amsterdam, Justine Shults, Irene Soeller, Jun James Mao, Kenneth Rockwell and Andrew B Newberg, September 2012, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.
- “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with a bright future (Review)” by Janmejai K. Srivastava, Eswar Shankar and Sanjay Gupta, 27 September 2010, Molecular Medicine Reports.
- “Preliminary examination of the efficacy and safety of a standardized chamomile extract for chronic primary insomnia: A randomized placebo-controlled pilot study” by Suzanna M Zick, Benjamin D Wright, Ananda Sen and J Todd Arnedt, 22 September 2011, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
- “Chamomile: An anti-inflammatory agent inhibits inducible nitric oxide synthase expression by blocking RelA/p65 activity” by Natarajan Bhaskaran, Sanjeev Shukla, Janmejai K. Srivastava and Sanjay Gupta, 1 December 2010, International Journal of Molecular Medicine.
- “The Effect of Chamomile on Pain and Menstrual Bleeding in Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review” by Azin Niazi, MSc and Maryam Moradi, PhD, July 2021,
International Journal of Community Based Nursing & Midwifery.
- “Complementary and alternative medicines in irritable bowel syndrome: An integrative view” by Oliver Grundmann and Saunjoo L Yoon, 14 January 2014, World Journal of Gastroenterology.
- “Apigenin in cancer therapy: anti-cancer effects and mechanisms of action” by Xiaohui Yan, Miao Qi, Pengfei Li, Yihong Zhan and Huanjie Shao, 5 October 2017, Cell & Bioscience.
- “Chamomile tea improves glycemic indices and antioxidants status in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus” by Maryam Zemestani, Maryam Rafraf and Mohammad Asghari-Jafarabadi, 28 November 2015, Nutrition.