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8 Benefits and Side Effects of Chamomile (7 Contraindications To Be Noted) [Updated Feb/2023]

Chamomile is a common name for several daisy-like plants whose flowers are often used in herbal teas, as aromatherapy, topically, or taken orally as tablets or capsules, mixed with other plants such as passionfloweraloe vera, or valerian, and chamomile essential oil is found in many skin lotions, creams, soaps, and cosmetics.

What are the benefits of chamomile in empirical medicine? Are there any side effects or contraindications? See text analysis for details


What is chamomile?

Chamomile is a kind of annual Compositae medicinal plant with a long history and widely used in Eurasia.

The diverse terpenes and flavonoids in chamomile give it special healing effects and are considered to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, analgesic, antispasmodic, sedative and other effects, so it has a variety of uses in traditional medicine and is used in To treat nervousness, insomnia, cough, bronchitis, fever, mouth ulcers, burns, circulatory disorders, indigestion, depression and hair loss.

Among them, German chamomile has the most commercial and medical value, and is made into extract lozenges, essential oils, creams and other products, especially the best-selling tea bags, which are one of the beverages that millions of people must drink every day.


What are the proven benefits of chamomile?

1. Chamomile benefits oral mucositis (due to chemoradiotherapy)

Oral mucositis is an acute inflammation commonly seen in cancer patients with the head and neck undergoing cytotoxic chemotherapy or radiation. Clinical manifestations include erythema, painful ulcers, pseudomembranes, edema, and haemorrhage.

Its presence directly interferes with the general health of the patient, further develops serious complications such as taste disorders, dysphagia, opportunistic infections, in addition to increasing the cost of treatment, which may require changes or even interruption of antitumor therapy, with a direct impact on tumor response and patient survival.

A systematic review (6 randomized controlled trials of 492 patients with chemoradiotherapy-induced oral mucositis) suggests that topical chamomile preparations (1% to 2.5% for a single to 4 doses per day) are helpful in preventing or treating oral mucositis. Note 1

*Conclusion: For oral mucositis induced by chemoradiotherapy and chemotherapy, topical chamomile preparations may be of positive help


2. Chamomile benefits primary menstrual pain

Primary dysmenorrhea, which is associated with cramping pain in the abdomen during menstrual bleeding, is not accompanied by pelvic disease and is caused by uterine contractions and ischemia. Fluctuations in prostaglandins, vasopressin, leukotrienes, and mood factors may also cause menstrual pain.

Various non-invasive nutritional and psychological interventions have been suggested as treatment, including psychotherapy, yoga, hypnotherapy, massage, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, vitamins and nutritional supplements, prescription medications including: prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors and pain-relieving nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as well as oral contraceptives, and non-pharmacological treatments including acupuncture and surgery.

A systematic review (7 clinical studies with 1033 participants) noted that chamomile can be considered a possible active ingredient in the treatment of primary menstrual pain and the reduction of menstrual blood. Note 1

*Conclusion: Chamomile may be a positive help for primary dysmenorrhea, but more studies are needed to verify this due to the heterogeneity of the samples included


3. Chamomile improves sleep quality

Sleep plays a vital role in brain function and systemic physiology, including metabolism, appetite regulation, and the maintenance of immunity, hormones, and cardiovascular system function.

Causes of decreased sleep quality include internal factors such as pain, illness, medications, stress, aging, obesity, and psychological changes, as well as external factors such as noise, light, temperature.

The prevalence of insomnia also increases with age, with statistics pointing out that more than 57% of older adults have sleep problems.

A randomized, single-blind controlled trial (28-day study of 60 elderly people living in nursing homes) showed that oral chamomile extract capsules (400 mg per day) improved sleep quality in older adults compared with control participants. Note 1

*Conclusion: Oral chamomile extract may have a positive effect on promoting sleep quality, but limited by small sample sizes, more large, precisely designed studies are needed to support this


4. Chamomile Beneficial for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive and inappropriate worry lasting 6 months or more, not limited to specific situations, and the 6 main symptoms include restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance, three of which must be diagnosed.

The lifetime prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder is estimated to be over 25% and may be related to traumatic life experiences, conditioned reflex disorders, genetic influences, and neurobiological dysfunction.

A randomized, double-blind controlled trial (26 weeks, 93 people with generalized anxiety disorder) noted that taking chamomile extract significantly reduced moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder symptoms, but did not significantly help reduce recurrence rates. Note 2

The mechanism behind it may be related to the flavonoid substances in chamomile that can regulate GABA, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and other neurotransmitters.

*Conclusion: Chamomile extract may have positive help in improving generalized anxiety disorder, but limited by small sample sizes, more large randomized controlled trials are needed


5. Chamomile benefits migraines

Migraine, a common primary disabling headache, is a cyclical disorder characterized by recurrent headaches, often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to light, noise and odor, loss of appetite, intestinal disorders, etc.

Migraine is one of the least recognized and treated neurological disorders, experienced by more than 20% of women and more than 10% of men, and without treatment, many aspects of a patient’s life are affected, including career, school, social, leisure, family life and responsibilities.

A double-blind, controlled, randomized clinical trial of 100 migraine patients without warning noted that topical chamomile essential oil gel preparations were associated with reducing pain, nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and phobia (as measured by a visual analogue scale (VAS) questionnaire) compared with placebo. Note 3

*Conclusion: Topical application of chamomile essential oil gel preparation may be of positive help in alleviating migraine, but limited by the small sample size, more large trials are still needed to support it


6. Chamomile benefits carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (also known as carpal tunnel syndrome) is a peripheral neuropathy of the upper extremities caused by compression of the median nerve (the carpal tunnel located in the wrist).

There are many causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, mainly occupational, rheumatoid arthritis, acromegaly, diabetes, hypothyroidism, pregnancy, obesity and tenosynovitis

The main symptoms are pain, numbness, burning and tingling in the compressed area (or finger), the degree of which varies from person to person

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (4 weeks, 86 patients with mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome) showed that topical application of chamomile oil with carpal splints helped improve muscle dynemetry, function, and symptom severity scores compared with placebo. Note 4

In addition, the midneural composite conduction latency was also significantly reduced in the chamomile essential oil group, but there was no significant change in other electrodiagnostic measurements

*Conclusion: Adjuvant therapy with topical chamomile oil may be of positive help to improve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome


7. Chamomile benefits diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is currently the highest proportion of chronic diseases, and the main symptom is high blood sugar.

At present, the number of diabetic people in the world is rising rapidly, with about 0.36 billion people falling ill, and it will reach a staggering 0.55 billion by 2030.

The consequence of long-term high blood sugar is to cause hardening of the arteries, causing lesions of peripheral nerves, retinas, kidneys and other organs (increased oxidative stress is the main driving force).

A controlled study (8 weeks, 64 diabetics) found that chamomile tea helped improve glycosylated hemoglobin, serum insulin levels, insulin resistance, and blood malondialdehyde concentrations. Note 5

In addition, the total antioxidant status, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase activities were also greatly increased (the ratios reached 6.81%, 26.16%, 36.71%, 45.06%).


8. Chamomile benefits for osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (knee osteoarthritis), also known as degenerative arthritis, is the most common joint degenerative disease in adults over 60 years old, with a prevalence rate of about 10% and 13% in men and women.

Statistics also found that arthritis patients are often combined with other chronic diseases, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, obesity, depression, etc., which increases the difficulty of treating diseases.

A controlled study (3 weeks, 84 people with knee osteoarthritis) showed that topical chamomile oil significantly reduced the need for anti-inflammatory drugs (compared to the other two groups applying anti-inflammatory gel and placebo). In addition, chamomile essential oil also has a slight effect on stiffness, pain and mobility. Note 6


Are there any side effects of chamomile?

Chamomile, a medicinal herb with a long history, has a high safety profile and is also considered a Generally Recognized as Safe food on the US FDA list.

Nevertheless, although uncommon, allergic reactions to chamomile have been reported in some studies. Possible conditions include skin rash, gastrointestinal discomfort, sneezing, vomiting, asthma, etc. Most of them are related to direct oral intake, and few Some are related to the application and inhalation of essential oils, which may cause anaphylactic shock in severe cases.


Safety Precautions

1. Have been allergic to Asteraceae plants, such as ragweed, calendula, daisies, etc., please avoid the use of such products, which may induce the above allergic reactions

2. The safety of use in pregnant women, nursing mothers, young children, and people with poor liver and kidney function is unknown, please avoid use

3. Chamomile essential oil is generally used externally, not internally, please do a small test before applying to the skin to avoid possible adverse reactions

4. May have anticoagulant effect, so do not use coagulation function abnormally, take anticoagulant drugs, and do not use it for two weeks before surgery

5. Do not use with drugs or herbs (such as valeriankava, catnip) related to sedation and sleep, which may enhance or interfere with the effect of ingredients

6. Do not use it in combination with hypoglycemic or blood pressure drugs, antihistamines, antifungal drugs, contraceptive pills and other drugs, which may interfere with the effect of drugs

7. The ingredients in chamomile may have estrogen-like effects, so if you have had hormone-related cancers (such as breast cancer, uterine cancer) or are taking anti-estrogen drugs (Tamoxifen), please discuss with your healthcare professional before use

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