From soothing insomnia and nausea to clearing skin problems and more, the little flower that could is a healing superstar.
Chamomile is an amazing flower. On appearance, it’s a sweet little daisy with a delicate flavor. But underneath that demure exterior, it is a potent powerhouse that has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. One comprehensive study lists 54 traditional uses for it, from treating sleep and skin problems to soothing nausea and cramps. It is truly the little flower that could.
Like many natural remedies that have been relied upon for ages, not all of chamomile’s powers have been proven by western science. But sometimes a few millennia of medicinal wisdom says more about a remedy than modern studies. Regardless, the following ailments have a long history of being soothed by this member of the Asteraceae/Compositae family. It certainly can't hurt to try.
Ease insomnia and stressChamomile is maybe best known for taking the edge off of stress and promoting a good night’s sleep. One study notes, “Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer. Sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid, apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain.” Curiously, there has not been a lot of clinical trials proving all of this; but based on my own experience and thousands of years of tried-and-true folk wisdom, I’m standing by this claim.
Improve skin conditionsChamomile has been used since antiquity to treat wounds and urge healing, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. A small yet more recent study found that chamomile significantly promoted wound healing. Several studies have found that topical chamomile treatments are effective in soothing eczema and mild inflammatory skin conditions.
Reduce acne breakouts and rednessMany people swear by chamomile to reduce acne and the redness that comes with it; which makes sense considering its prevalence in so many skincare products. Its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties can be put to great use by making a strong chamomile tea, letting it cool, and then either rubbing it on clean skin with your fingers, or wetting a washcloth with it and allowing it to stay on affected areas for 15 minutes or so. Leftover tea can be kept in the fridge.
Quell nausea, vomiting, gas, and heartburnThere are studies, there is folk wisdom, there is anecdotal evidence – and it all points to the fact that chamomile tea soothes the things that vex the stomach.
Stymy symptoms of the common coldThere has been plenty of anecdotal evidence showing that drinking chamomile tea can relieve symptoms of the cursed common cold. Meanwhile, one study found that inhaling chamomile steam helped in the same endeavor. Since we already know that fluids, warm drinks, and steam are good cold combatants, why not throw in some chamomile there too?
Minimize menstrual pain and grumpinessThe proof on this one is in a lot of anecdotal evidence with a fair amount of research backing it up. Among other studies, one says that chamomile tea appears to be helpful in relieving menstrual cramps in women, probably by relaxing the uterus. Meanwhile, another study found that drinking chamomile tea for a month is an “effective therapy in relieving the pain originated from primary dysmenorrhea [cramps] and its consequent psycho-social problems [grumpiness]."
Treat diabetes and lowering blood sugarThis is a pretty lofty claim, but some studies have found that chamomile tea can lower blood sugar in people with diabetes; though probably not enough to replace diabetes medications. But still, it could provide a boost to existing treatments. Likewise, a 2008 suggests that chamomile tea could prevent blood sugar from increasing ... which could help to reduce the long-term risk of diabetes complications, suggesting that chamomile could improve diabetes outcomes, reports Medical News Today.
Reduce inflammationA lot of research has looked into chamomile's efficacy in reducing inflammation, an immune system reaction to fight infection. Inflammation can lead to a whole host of health problems, from depression to cancer; chamomile has been found to help both when ingested and when used topically. Even more specifically, a 2009 study notes: The German E Commission has approved chamomile for internal use to treat gastrointestinal spasms and inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, the German E Commission has approved external use of chamomile for inflammation of the skin and bacterial skin diseases, and respiratory tract inflammation."
How to use and side effectsMedical News Daily reminds us that if you are interested in trying chamomile tea, it should be used as a supplement, rather than a replacement, to your normal medication regimen. A regular dose of one or two cups of tea day should encourage health benefits.
As noted above, chamomile is a sleepy-maker, so be warned that it can cause drowsiness. Most experts say that chamomile is safe, though it can trigger allergic reactions in people who have allergies to related plants.
And now I'm off to buy some chamomile seeds so that I can plant a medicine cabinet.