Chamomile, an aromatic annual herb, has a long history of use in traditional medicine to treat muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, stomach disorders, rheumatic pain, hay fever, and hemorrhoids. It is widely used in teas for its relaxing and calming effects.
In vitro and animal studies indicate that chamomile extracts have anti-inflammatory (11), antihyperglycemic (12), antigenotoxic (13), and anticancer (14). Apigenin, a flavone present in chamomile, has strong chemopreventive effects (15). Bisabololoxide A, another constituent of chamomile, was shown to reduce the dose of 5-fluorouracil when used together against leukemic cells (19).
Preliminary data suggest modest benefits of chamomile in improving chronic insomnia (20). Chamomile extract showed a mild to moderate effect in patients with generalized anxiety disorder (16) and may also have antidepressant effects (30). In another controlled trial, application of a chamomile compress was shown to be effective, and superior to hydrocortisone ointment, in facilitating healing of peristomal skin lesions in patients following colostomy (21).
Chamomile mouthwash reduced 5-fluorouracil-induced mucositis in hamsters (17), but data from human studies are conflicting (8) (9). More research is warranted.