Chamomile – an intro
Chamomile or camomile plant has flowers which look like daisies. It is a member of the Asteraceae (or Compositae) family. German chamomile and Hungarian chamomile are the two types of chamomile from which active compounds are extracted and used in herbal therapy. English chamomile or Roman chamomile contain similar components but these are not used in herbal remedies. Chamomille is popularly used to make tea, most often served with lemon or honey.
Common Names: chamomile, German chamomile
Latin Names: Matricaria recutita, Chamomilla recutita
Uses of Chamomile
- Chamomile herb is believed to be a sedative to induce sleep, calm frazzled nerves , anxiety and gastrointestinal upsets such as stomach upset, spasms, inflammation, gases and loose motions.
- Chamomile is promoted in speedy wound healing when used as a topical application for skin problems such as sunburn, rashes, mouth sores, hemorrhoids, diaper rash, eye problems , nipple irritation. German chamomile has been approved for gastrointestinal spasms and skin and mucous membrane inflammation
- Topical application for mouth ulcers resulting from cancer treatment, though strong scientific evidence for the same is lacking.
- Some claim that chamomile helps in menstrual disorders , relief for migraines, reduce swollen joint pains and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Chamomile tea is used to aid in sound sleep.
- Chamomile flowers are useful to treat hay fever. When chamomile flowers are added to boiling water and the fumes from this boiling herbal decoction are inhaled, this is a good hayfever herbal remedy.
How is Chamomile Used
The flowering tops of the chamomile plant are used to make teas, tinctures (an alcohol based chamomile liquid extract), capsules, or tablets. The chamomile herb can be added to cosmetics, or applied to the skin as a gel, cream or an ointment, or used as a mouth rinse. Liquid extracts of chamomile are also used as an eyewash. Bandages containing chamomile are placed over wounds to treat skin conditions.
Health Effects of Chamomile
Studies done in the past suggest the possible role of chamomile’s health benefits for skin problems, mouth ulcers caused by chemotherapy and radiation. Chamomile when combined with other herbs, may benefit stomach problems, loose motions in children and colic in infants. NCCAM funded research on chamomile had conducted research trials of chamomile herb for anxiety disorders, abdominal pain in bowel disorders in children. Chamomile needs to be studied in depth for more conclusive evidence to support its use for any health condition.
Chamomile Side Effects
Allergies to chamomile are fairly common – symptoms such as stomach cramps, itching, skin rashes, and throat swelling may arise that can cause serious breathing problems, and even death. Chamomile, when used as an eyewash has caused red inflamed eyes and swollen eyelids in those who are sensitive to it. Chamomile extracts like bisabolol present in cosmetics and moisturizers may cause skin rashes and eczema in people with chamomile allergy.
People who have severe allergies to members of the Asteraceae family such as echinacea (purple coneflower), ragweed, yarrow, arnica, sunflowers, dandelions, marigolds, sagebrush, tansy, mugwort, should be careful if they decide to use chamomile. People who are allergic to celery, feverfew, or birch pollen may have a higher risk of reacting to chamomile.
Chamomile may increase the risk of bleeding if taken with blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin). People taking these medications should consult their physicians before using chamomile. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this herb.
Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.