Chamomile

Scientific names: Matricaria recutita L., Family: Asteraceae (daisy). Synonyms: Chamomilla, Chamomilla recutita, Matricaria chamomilla , Matricaria suavoelens, and Chamaemelum nobile (L.) All. Family: Asteraceae (daisy). Synonym: Anthemis nobilis L.

Common names: There are two species of chamomile: Matricaria recutita is known as German, Hungarian, wild, or genuine chamomile. Chamaemelum nobile is commonly called English, Roman, Scotch, garden, lawn, sweet, true, or common chamomile.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Chamomile?

M. chamomilla grows as an erect annual, and A. nobilis is a slow-growing perennial. The fragrant flowering heads of both plants are collected and dried for use as teas and extracts. They all are members of the Asteraceae (daisy) family.

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What is it used for?

Chamomile is applied to the skin and mucous membrane for inflammations and skin diseases. It can be inhaled for sore throats, used in baths to soothe anal or genital inflammation, and used internally for stomach and intestinal spasms and inflammatory diseases. However, clinical proof supporting any of these uses of chamomile is limited.

Traditional and ethnobotanical uses

Known since Roman times for its medicinal properties, chamomile has been used as an antispasmodic and sedative in folk treatment of digestive and rheumatic disorders. Chamomile tea has been used to treat parasitic worm infections and as hair color and conditioner. The volatile oil has been used to flavor cigarette tobacco. Chamomile has been utilized as a skin wash to clean wounds and ulcers, and to increase the sloughing of necrotic tissue and promote granulation and proper healing. It also has been reported to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, astringent, and deodorant properties. Various formulations of chamomile have been used to treat colic, cystitis, fever, flatulence, and vomiting.

What is the recommended dosage?

Chamomile has been used as a tea for various conditions and as a topical cream. Typical oral doses are 9 to 15 grams per day. Gargles made from 8 g of chamomile flowers in 1,000 mL of water have been used in trials.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Do not use if you are allergic to ragweed pollens.

Pregnancy/nursing

Poorly documented adverse reactions (eg, affects on menstrual cycle, reputed abortive effects, uterine stimulant). Avoid use during pregnancy.

No clinical data are available on the use of chamomile during lactation.

Interactions

Possible interactions have been reported with warfarin or cyclosporine. Because warfarin and cyclosporine have a narrow therapeutic index, patients taking either of these medications in more than modest amounts should avoid using chamomile at the same time.

No interactions caused by sedative effects or antispasmodic properties of chamomile have been reported.

Side Effects

Use of the tea and essential oil has resulted in anaphylactic shock, contact dermatitis, and other severe allergic reactions. Persons who are allergic to asters, chrysanthemums, ragweed, and other members of the Asteraceae daisy family should avoid chamomile.

Toxicities

Animal fed chamomile showed few ill effects.

References

  1. Chamomile. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2007. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 4, 2007.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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