Chamomile is a flowering plant with small pink or purple flowers that are used to make tea. The dried flowers, known as chamomile tea, have been used for centuries to treat a range of ailments. The most common uses for chamomile tea include treating indigestion, headaches, and insomnia. Although the exact mechanisms of action for these health benefits are not fully understood, studies have suggested that the active components in chamomile, known as flavonoids, may have a range of health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties.
Benefits of chamomile tea
The potential benefits of chamomile tea, for which there is the most evidence, include:
1. Reducing menstrual pain
A 2012 study found that a single dose of chamomile tea could reduce the frequency and severity of menstrual cramps for six weeks. One study suggested that a second dose of chamomile tea could reduce the frequency and severity of menstrual cramps for up to an additional two months.
2. Reducing inflammation
Inflammation is the body's way of fighting infection. Chamomile tea contains chemicals that may reduce inflammation. However, inflammation can cause a wide range of health problems, including hemorrhoids, gastrointestinal pain, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and even depression.
3. Helping with sleep and relaxation
Chamomile tea is thought to help people relax and fall asleep. Few trials have tested this, however. In one review, 10 of 12 cardiovascular patients fell asleep after consuming chamomile tea.
Chamomile helped rats that were having trouble sleeping fall asleep in a study. Many researchers think that chamomile tea acts like a benzodiazepine (a prescription drug that can reduce anxiety and induce sleep). Some research suggests that chamomile binds to benzodiazepine receptors (sites on cells that the drugs bind to).
4. Treating cold symptoms
In some studies and based on anecdotal evidence, inhaling steam with chamomile extract can relieve some of the symptoms of the common cold.
5. Treating diabetes and lowering blood sugar
Chamomile tea has been shown to lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. It is not known to be a substitute for diabetes medication, but it may be helpful as a supplement.
A 2008 study found that consistent chamomile tea consumption might prevent blood sugar from increasing, which could improve diabetes outcomes.
Avoid chamomile tea or products if:
People with a history of severe allergies to pollens