Chamomile tea is one of the most ancient and revered herbal remedies which is still in use today. Traditionally grown and used throughout Europe in a wide variety of medicinal applications such as skin irritations, canker sores, gout, ulcers, chickenpox, rheumatic pain, and as a mild sedative just to name a few.
The most common types of chamomile on the market today are the German variety, chamomillarecutita, and the Roman strain, chamaemelumnobile. Originally the English pronunciation comes from the Latin and Greek words meaning “ground apple”. All varieties look similar to small daisy type flowers, and both varieties are cultivated in abundance all over the world today.
Most commonly in medicinal uses, the plant is prepared as a tea which helps release powerful oils found in the flowers. However, these days there are other options available such as oils and extracts which offer stronger potential than the milder effects found from consuming teas. During the past century, as medical research has pursued more traditional herbal remedies, the studies have proven what our ancestors knew all along – that the known benefits of chamomile tea are real and should be taken seriously.
1. Helps with Anxiety and Depression
The current research supports the idea that chamomile extract may be beneficial for people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), particularly in mild to moderate cases. One study in particular showed that chamomile extract had mild anxiolytic activity for people with GAD, and this has opened up the doors for more research into chamomile as an alternative for mild anxiety disorders.
Historically, chamomile tea has often been prescribed to people in order to fight off symptoms of anxiety and depression, taken through inhalation of chamomile essential oil vapors. When inhaled, the compounds within chamomile have been shown to affect the olfactory part of the brain which turns off our natural stress response.
2. Soothes an Upset Stomach
There are many gastrointestinal applications for chamomile tea, because of its soothing anti-inflammatory characteristics. This includes treatment of ulcers, digestive disorders, indigestion, gout, excess gas, and stimulating relaxation of the digestive tract to ease constipation. Besides its relaxing effects, it has also been found to have anti-spasmodic compounds which help reduce pain associated with gastrointestinal distress.
3. Helps Treat Minor Wounds
Using chamomile topically to heal minor wounds is an age old herbal remedy, one which is now showing promising results when examined through modern scientific study. For example, in one small study focusing on the healing of tattoos, the group who was treated with chamomile found that there was increased antimicrobial activity, increased wound drying, and a higher wound-breaking strength than in those who were untreated. Plus, one recent study has found that chamomile may even prove to be more effective in wound management than cortisol cream.
4. Promotes Relaxation and Sleep
Another ancient use of chamomile that continues to be used today, is for inducing sleep and relaxation. Chamomile tea has long been used as a mild tranquilizer and is still a common alternative treatment for insomnia and sleep disorders. While there are fewer modern studies to back up this traditional usage, the limited evidence seems to strongly support what many cultures have known for centuries about the effectiveness of chamomile for relaxation and sleep.
5. Fights the Common Cold
Did you know that chamomile is often a component of over the counter flu medications, found especially within those targeting mucus and sore throats? This is because the oil of the chamomile flowers is antibacterial and is an effective means to reduce the production of mucus. Plus, when inhaled as a vapor before bed, it can help soothe the annoying cold irritations that always make it extremely difficult to fall asleep.
6. Pain Management
While many consider the benefits of chamomile tea to be mild in nature, the science strongly supports its use in pain management. In particular, it can be used for treatment of arthritis, joint and muscle pain, and back pain. Plus, it has a long history of use for soothing postpartum pain (both for the mind and body).
7. Immune Support
Chamomile has long been used to help promote better overall health, which is now understood to be a support of the immune system. Some preliminary studies have shown that participants had higher antibacterial presence after consuming five cups of chamomile tea a day for two weeks. Chamomile is also known to have high levels of antioxidants.
8. Regulates Blood Sugar
Chamomile helps the body regulate its blood sugar levels, and can be an effective alternative treatment for hyperglycemia and diabetic complications. The research currently supports that it is able to work independently of our insulin production and that it protects the pancreas from oxidative stressors triggered by diabetes. More research is required to determine the exact mechanisms chamomile tea uses to suppress blood sugar levels.