- Hungarian chamomile
- wild chamomile
For Patients & Caregivers
Chamomile may benefit those with anxiety disorder and insomnia. It has not been shown to treat or prevent cancer.
Several studies have used chamomile extracts in animals to test their effects. They show that substances in chamomile can kill bacteria, reduce inflammation, calm muscle spasms, inhibit the growth of polio and herpes viruses and cancer cells, and prevent the growth of ulcers. Several chemicals found in chamomile leaves are known to inhibit substances in the body that cause an inflammatory response. Apigenin, a compound isolated from chamomile, binds to brain cells in the same areas as well-known depressant drugs, which could explain chamomile’s sedative effects.
Small clinical trials show that chamomile may have a modest effect on generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, and in healing skin lesions after colostomy (a surgical procedure that brings one end of the large intestine out through the abdominal wall).
- Topically, as an antiseptic and to treat skin ulcers
Studies in animals show that substances in chamomile can kill bacteria and viruses, reduce inflammation, and prevent the growth of ulcers. Clinical trials have not been conducted.
- Topically, to reduce the inflammation of hemorrhoids
Animal studies show that substances in chamomile can reduce inflammation. Human data are lacking.
- Sedation or relaxation
It has long been thought that chamomile tea can induce relaxation. However, clinical data are lacking.
- As a mouthwash, to treat mucositis associated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy
Clinical trials show conflicting results for this use. More research is needed.
- To relieve flatulence
No scientific evidence supports this use.
- To alleviate muscle spasms
Animal studies show that substances in chamomile can calm muscle spasms. Human data are lacking.
- To relieve generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Chamomile may have modest benefits for those with mild to moderate GAD.
- You are allergic to ragweed or flowers in the Compositae family.
- You take warfarin or other blood thinners (chamomile may increase the risk of bruising or bleeding).
- You use sedatives (chamomile may have additive effects).
- You are taking drugs that are substrates of Cytochrome P450 (chamomile may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs).
- You are taking Cyclosporine (chamomile may increase the risk of side effects)
- Hypersensitivity allergic reactions, ranging from dermatitis (redness and swelling of the skin) to anaphylactic shock can occur. A case of occupational allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (characterized by runny nose, sneezing, itching of the nose and eyes, and watery eyes) induced by inhalation of chamomile dried flowers has also been reported.
- Case reports
Premature constriction of ductus arteriosus (a small blood vessel that is very important for circulation in the developing fetus) was reported following consumption of camomile tea by the mother during pregnancy.
A 38-year-old Caucasian man developed an episode of severe anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction) one hour after consuming chamomile tea. The symptoms improved followed an emergency treatment with an intravenous antihistamine.
A 70-year-old woman was hospitalized with multiple internal hemorrhages following use of chamomile products along with warfarin. Her symptoms resolved after treatment with intravenous heparin.
For Healthcare Professionals
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 from clinical studies suggest modest benefits of chamomile in improving chronic insomnia (20); and chamomile tea was shown to have positive effects on glycemic control in patients with diabetes (33). A 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.
The anti-inflammatory activity of chamomile involves the release of LPS-induced prostaglandin E(2) in RAW 264.7 macrophages via inhibition of COX-2 enzyme activity (11). Methanol extracts of chamomile exert anti-allergic effects by inhibiting histamine release from mast cells (23). They also showed neuroprotective activity by decreasing lipid peroxidation (LPO) and increasing superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione (GSH), and total thiol levels (24).
Topical chamomile has been shown to reduce the tissue levels of IL-1β and TNF-α in hamsters with oral mucositis (34). In another study, a chamomile extract was shown to afford gastroprotection against ethanol-induced ulceration by increasing glutathione levels (25). Apigenin, a flavone component of chamomile, interacts with GABA (A) (gamma-aminobutyric acid)-benzodiazepine receptors in vitro and inhibits locomotor behavior in rats (5). Apigenin was also shown to affect alternative splicing of key mRNAs by inhibiting dimerization of hnRNPA2, a factor associated with many cellular malignancies and in mRNA metabolism and splicing (32).
Hypersensitivity reactions including asthma, contact dermatitis, and anaphylaxis can occur following exposure to chamomile (26) (27). A case of occupational allergic rhinoconjunctivitis induced by inhalation of chamomile dried flowers has also been reported (36).
Premature constriction of fetal ductus arteriosus has been reported following consumption of camomile tea by the mother during pregnancy (31).
A 38-year-old Caucasian man developed an episode of severe anaphylaxis with generalized urticaria, angioedema and severe dyspnea one hour after consuming chamomile tea. The symptoms improved following treatment with an intravenous antihistamine (18).
A 70-year-old woman was hospitalized with multiple internal hemorrhages following concurrent use of chamomile products and warfarin. Her symptoms resolved after treatment with intravenous heparin (28).
There is a case reported of occupational allergic rhinoconjunctivitis from the inhalation of chamomile dried flowers (36).
Anticoagulants / Antiplatelets: Chamomile may increase the anticoagulant effects and inhibit platelet activity due to its coumarin content (28).
Sedatives: Chamomile may increase their effects (4).
Cytochrome P450 substrates: Chamomile inhibits CYP1A2, CYP2C9, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 and can affect the intracellular concentration of drugs metabolized by these enzymes (29).
Cyclosporine: Concurrent use resulted in increased levels of cyclosporine (35).