Chamomile moves chi, relaxes the nerves, reduces inflammation, clears toxins, and promotes tissue repair. In vitro studies indicate that it has activity against E. coli, strep, and staph bacteria. Part of its anti-inflammatory activity may be due to its ability to inhibit the metabolism of arachidonic acid. Chamomile also helps restore an exhausted nervous system; it is an excellent herb for people who complain about every little thing. It is also a beneficial children’s herb.
Topically, chamomile is used as a bath herb to relieve stress, soften dry skin, and calm cranky children. It can be used as a sitz bath to soothe haemorrhoids. Chamomile is excellent in salves and lotions to treat skin inflammation, including burns, dermatitis, eczema, insect bites, psoriasis, ulcers (external), and healing wounds. It can be used as a gargle to relieve a sore throat, as a mouthwash to treat gingivitis, as a poultice to alleviate a toothache, and as an eyewash to get rid of conjunctivitis and sties. It can even be used as a douche or enema to reduce inflammation or get rid of an infection.
Maythen, Manzanilla (Mexican), Chamaimelon, Camamyle, Ground Apple, Whig Plant, Wild Chamomile, Scented Mayweed; Rumianek pospolity, maruna (Polish); Camomille (French); Kamille (German); Camomilla (Italian); Manzanilla (Spanish); Khamomili (German)
German chamomile has been taken for digestive problems since at least the 1st century AD. Gentle and efficacious, it is very suitable for children. The herb is valuable for pain, indigestion, acidity, gas, gastritis, bloating, and colic. It is also used for hiatus hernia, peptic ulcer, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. German chamomile, which contains spiroether and bisabolol, very strong antispasmodics, relax tense, aching muscles and eases menstrual pain.
Digestive tonic, anti-inflammatory (GIT), antidiarrhoeal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic (muscles), carminative, antiseptic, wound-healing, analgesic, sedative, antiallergic, anticatarrhal (upper respiratory tract), antimicrobial, antiulcerogenic (GIT), bitter tonic/digestive, cholagogue.
Gastrointestinal disorders including gingivitis, food allergies/sensitivities, anorexia, indigestion, catarrh, colic, colitis, diarrhoea, dyspepsia, gastritis, flatulence, enteritis, abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea and ulceration, anxiety, insomnia and restlessness in children, dysmenorrhoea, asthma, hayfever.
If chamomile is steamed or placed in hot water, a substance called chamazulene, which has markedly antiallergenic properties, is formed. Studies have found that chamazulene prevents the formation of inflammatory leukotrienes, thereby inhibiting the generation of toxic free radicals needed to trigger the allergic response. A compound in the herb’s essential oil reinforces the effect of chamazulene by blocking the release of histamine. Chamazulene also stops stomach irritation caused by the release of free radicals that activate histamine. This explains chamomile’s traditional use in soothing upset stomach.
Anxiety, attention deficit disorder (ADD), insomnia, and stress.
Chamomile has traditionally been used as a calmative for persons under stress. Herbalists especially recommend it for sleeplessness in children. Laboratory tests on animals show that inhaling the vapours of essential oil of chamomile reduces the body’s production of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), a stress hormone. Inhaling the essential oil lowers stress and makes other stress-reduction drugs, such as diazepam (Valium), more effective.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Peptic Ulcers
Naturopaths frequently recommend chamomile tea as part of a treatment program for IBS because of its antispasmodic properties, which also makes it useful in treating morning sickness. Chamomile is more effective when used with ginger.
For over twenty years, medical researchers have recognised the value of chamomile in preventing and treating peptic ulcers. Chamomile’s anti-inflammatory and antihistamine actions soothe inflammation throughout the digestive tract. When the discomfort of peptic ulcers is compounded by diarrhea, chamomile hastens recovery, primarily if a high-fibre diet is maintained.
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Traditional herbal medicine in England used chamomile as one of the five “opening” herbs for the treatment of irregular menstruation. Chamomile contains spiroether, a powerful antispasmodic agent that relaxes aching and tense muscles, and alleviates premenstrual pain.
- A combination of a chamomile extract and pectin showed superior results to placebo in treating acute, uncomplicated diarrhea in a double-blind, randomised trial. The preparation contained 2.5% of chamomile extract standardized to 0.0035% chamazulene and 0.05% α-bisabolol and 3.2% pectin.
- A double-blind study on babies approximately 3 weeks of age with infantile colic investigated the effect of an instant herb tea containing chamomile, lemon balm, vervain, licorice, and fennel. After 7 days, the improvement in colic scores was significantly better in the herbal tea group. More babies in the treatment group had their colic eliminated. The tea preparation was offered with every episode of colic, up to 150 ml per dose, but not more than three times per day. The exact composition of the preparation was not defined.
- Oral administration of chamomile tea during cardiac catheterisation induced a deep sleep in 10 of 12 patients tested, despite the pain and anxiety experienced from the medical procedure. Two chamomile tea bags were used in a 175-ml cup of hot water. The patients drank the tea in less than 10 minutes.
- Topical application of standardised chamomile preparations has shown benefit in treating eczema, varicose eczema, and varicose ulcers in uncontrolled trials, surveys, and controlled trials. Standardised chamomile cream showed mild superiority over 0.5% hydrocortisone cream and marginal improvement compared with placebo in medium-degree atopic eczema. This trial was a partially blinded, randomised trial carried out as a half-side comparison (one side of the body compared with the other).
- Standardised chamomile cream was compared with steroidal and nonsteroidal dermal preparations in the maintenance therapy of eczema. Chamomile cream showed similar efficacy to 0.25% hydrocortisone and was superior to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent (5% bufexamac) and a glucocorticoid preparation (0.75% fluocortin butyl ester).
- In a randomised, controlled trial, standardised chamomile cream was preferred over almond cream by patients for treating the erythema and moist desquamation acquired after receiving radiotherapy.
- In Germany, the Commission E supports using chamomile internally to treat gastrointestinal spasm and inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Chamomile is recommended externally to treat skin and mucous membrane inflammations, bacterial skin diseases, including those of the oral cavity and gums, inflammation and irritation of the respiratory tract (by inhalation), and anogenital inflammation (by bath or enema). ESCOP also recommends chamomile for these indications, specifically indicating internal use for the following gastrointestinal complaints: minor spasm, epigastric distension, flatulence, and belching.
Dosage (Divided Daily)
• Dried Flowers/Powder: 6,000 – 12,000mg (strong tea)
• Liquid Extract: 1.5 – 3mL (1:2 liquid extract)
Known sensitivity or allergy to members of the Compositae (Asteraceae) family
Interactions with other drugs
In anemia and cases in which iron supplementation is required, chamomile should not be taken simultaneously with meals or iron supplements.
Balch, P. A., & Bell, S. J. (2012). Prescription for herbal healing (2nd ed.). New York, N.Y.: Avery.
- Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: herbal formulations for the individual patient. St. Louis, MI: Churchill Livingstone.
- Herbalpedia (2013)
- Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: the ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.
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