Chamomile is one of the oldest and most popular medicinal herbs, but it has also become one of the best studied by modern medicine. According to one medical paper, more than one million cups of camomile tea are consumed per day around the world. For good reason, as this little white flower can have some big benefits for your health.
There are two types of chamomile typically used for medicinal purposes, German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). There's a very low risk of side effects to using chamomile as a tea or extract, however some people can be allergic to its pollen. People who suffer from ragweed allergies should be cautious.
1. Fall asleep faster
Chamomile tea and and essential oil aromatherapy are widely used to help induce sleep. Yet the effectiveness of chamomile as a sleep aide hasn’t been subjected to much clinical study. However on a chemical level, chamomile extracts have been shown to have sedative properties. So, go ahead and take your grandmother’s advice and have a cup of this herbal tea before bed.
2. Sooth common cold symptoms
We can’t say that chamomile is a cure for the common cold, but it can reduce suffering from its symptoms. Preliminary studies show that inhaling steam containing chamomile extract soothes the discomfort caused by an upper respiratory infection. Chamomile contains anti-inflammatory compounds, which may explain these benefits.
3. Reduce stress
Chamomile contains apigenin, a compound that has anti-anxiety effects. One study found that patients suffering from generalized anxiety disorder showed moderate benefits from taking camomile extract capsules when compared to a placebo.
4. Boost the immune system
A small study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that drinking chamomile tea boosts antibacterial compounds in the body. The researchers think this could explain why regular consumption of chamomile seems to fight colds, although more study would be needed to establish a definitive link.
Other traditional uses for chamomile are treating upset stomach, easing cramps, and as a topical ointment for wounds, eczema and chickenpox. However, its usefulness for these conditions have been studied less.