The chamomile plant, primarily the German and Roman varieties, are two that are used often in traditional medicine as an herbal infusion. Offered in essential oil and herbal infusion teas, the flower can be used as a natural remedy at home for several ailments. The chamomile benefits are great for people of all ages, but pregnant women should avoid chamomile.
Chamomile is known to promote uterine contractions that can lead to miscarriage. While chamomile is “generally safe,” there’s a lack of clinical evidence of safe usage when nursing.
9 Key Chamomile Benefits Everyone Should Know
1. Reduce Menstrual Pain
A majority of women, 60% to 90%, suffer from pain that starts in the lower abdomen and radiates into the thighs. These women are all of menstrual age and can experience this intense pain for a period of 2 to 3 days each month.
One study, conducted in 2010, found that drinking chamomile tea for a week before menstruation and for the first five days afterward led to a reduction in menstrual pain. The group drank just two cups of tea daily.
Anxiety and stress were also reduced. It's important that consumption occurs before and after menstruation to experience the complete pain-relieving properties of chamomile.
2. Osteoporosis Slowing or Prevention
Progressive bone density loss can increase the risk of broken bones and can also lead to posture-related issues. The condition can impact men and women of all ages, but it’s most common in women during the post-menopausal period of their lives.
It's expected that the difference in estrogen levels may be the reason for osteoporosis being higher in this demographic.
A 2004 study on preventing bone loss shows that chamomile may cause antiestrogenic effects in the body which promote higher bone density. The study does caution that additional studies are needed to determine the efficacy over a prolonged period of time.
The study didn’t look at the chamomile essential oil benefits which may also help prevent or slow this condition.
3. Inflammation Reduction
Inflammation is thought to be the root cause of many diseases and health-related issues. While the body naturally inflames to help fight infection, when inflammation is experienced over a long period of time, there’s evidence that it may cause or is linked to the following conditions:
Preclinical models suggest that chamomile can help assist with inflammatory disorders by inhibiting Helicobacter pylori. Chamomile extract and essential oils can be applied topically to areas in the body where inflammation has occurred.
The direct application allows for a direct benefit to the user.
Extracts are heavily used in Europe and are a common natural remedy for inflammation of the mouth and throat.
4. Treat Diabetes and Lower Blood Sugar
Studies conducted on people with diabetes have shown positive impacts when drinking chamomile tea. While tea is not a substitute for medication, it is a viable supplement that goes along well with other treatments.
One study of note from 2008 examined the effects of dietary chamomile on the complications of diabetes.
The study indicates that when chamomile is taken with meals, it can help lower blood sugar and suppress blood glucose levels over the long-term. The report mentions that when taken with a meal, chamomile may be able to stop the progression of hyperglycemia and additional diabetic complications.
Another study found that consuming chamomile during a meal led to much lower, average blood sugar levels over a period of eight weeks compared to a group that drank only water during their meals.
5. Cancer Prevention
Cancer is a serious condition, and while more research is required to determine the efficacy of chamomile on multiple forms of cancer, some studies suggest that chamomile may help with cancer prevention.
One study found that chamomile helped target cancer cells and may prevent them from forming in the first case.
More studies are needed in this field, but initial results are promising. One study from 2012 showed that the flower was able to target cancer tumors, but marigold was shown to be more potent in the study.
Chamomile and marigold fusion teas may provide more cancer prevention properties.
The antioxidants in the tea combined with its ability to inhibit growth in cancer cells show promise in numerous studies. Apoptosis was induced in cancer cells and not normal cells which means that the death of the cancer cells was promoted.
6. Promotes Better Sleep
Chamomile is known for promoting relaxation and sleep. While known by herbalists and people around the world as a relaxant, few studies have been done in this area. One of the most promising reviews found that 10 of 12 cardiovascular patients drank tea and fell to sleep shortly afterward.
A study including rats was also performed. The rats suffered from sleep disturbances and were able to fall asleep after having chamomile.
Scientists are not entirely sure why chamomile promotes sleep, but it is thought that the tea acts similarly to drugs that induce sleep and reduce anxiety. Preliminary studies suggest that the chamomile may bind to the body’s benzodiazepine receptors.
Anxiety reduction has not fully been proven with some studies suggesting modest benefits while others remain inconclusive.
7. Helps Speed Up Healing
Chamomile extracts were the focus of a study from 1987. The study wanted to determine if chamomile showed any positive benefits for people with mild skin conditions. Chamomile ointments can help ease mild inflammation of the skin and help with eczema.
The ointments were effective, yet the study reports that they were not as effective as hydrocortisone creams.
When applied directly to wounds, participants in one study healed faster. Additional studies in this area are needed to better understand if chamomile can help assist with healing. The studies did not mention the rate of healing increase in participants.
8. Treat the Common Cold
The common cold infects over 3 million people in the United States alone each year. Unlike many of the studies listed previously, relieving cold symptoms was done with extracts and can likely be done with chamomile essential oils.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that people steam the extract and inhale the steam. People claim it’s easier to breathe and they suffer from less congestion after inhalation.
One group of studies found that steam inhalation was able to reduce the symptoms of the common cold. But additional studies are still needed to determine efficacy.
9. Digestive Health Promotion
Limited studies have shown that chamomile may promote better digestive health. The anti-inflammatory benefits of the flower can assist with gastrointestinal issues and reduce the risks of these conditions in the first place.
Stomach ulcers and the potential reduction of acidity in the stomach were noted in another study. The growth of the bacteria that is responsible for ulcer development was reduced in the study.
While research has been done on digestive health and chamomile, it’s important to note that additional human studies need to be conducted.
Chamomile can be enjoyed as a tea or used in an extract to promote better health. The chamomile benefits outlined above rely primarily on tea consumption, but a few of the studies were conducted using essential oils and extracts.
While chamomile is considered generally safe, it’s important that pregnant women or women that are nursing do not consume the flower.