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The Disputed Effects of Chamomile and Chamomile Tea

Updated on March 26, 2012

Natural sleep aids have a growing fan base among people who need to sleep soundly and not wake up with a sleep hangover. The line can be fuzzy at times, though, as some over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids use the same ingredients as 'natural' sleep medications.

Are there any options available that don't leave a person feeling like they have taken a powerful narcotic? Absolutely!

In fact there are several ancient and natural sleep medications. Chamomile is one of these. Among the oldest and cheapest, chamomile is a flowering plant belonging to the daisy flower family.

It is the proverbial "sleepy tea," and in a botanical reference, this flower is credited with aiding digestion, soothing anxiety, relieving pain and more. It even has anti--inflammatory properties and or course, is a safe, effective calming agent.

German and Roman (or English) Chamomile are the common variations of this popular herb, used throughout history in ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece. In addition to the list above, the chamomile herb has at one time or another been credited with curing the following:

-menstrual cramps

-abcesses/skin infections

-muscle spasms

-burns

-stomach ulcers

-colic

-upset stomach

Is it Safe?

Because it belongs to the daisy family, chamomile causes allergic reactions in some people. A rash, hives, itching or wheezing and chest tightness are all signs of an allergic reaction. The same symptoms are possible whether the herb is ingested or applied on the skin's surface.

Conflicting evidence of chamomile's effects abound, specifically that from the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the American Cancer Society (ACS,) respectively.

While the NCCAM supports evidence that chamomile can be an effective sedative and alleviate mild stomach ailments, the ACS says the recent scientific research doesn't support these claims.

Evidence on both sides is definitive on two points, however:

--Pregnant women should not use chamomile.

-- Chamomile contains anti-coagulant compounds and should be avoided by people on blood-thinning medications.

The ACS emphasizes that severe allergic reactions to chamomile are possible. It does say apigenin, a compound found in chamomile, has potential to combat anxiety symptoms, but nothing more.

As with most herbs and alternative medicines, few definitive answers are available. The important points to remember are to avoid chamomile if you are allergic to plants in the daisy family, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are taking blood-thinning medications.

As for the question of whether or not chamomile will put a person to sleep, only personal research can say for sure. The next time insomnia keeps you up at night, consider making a hot cup of chamomile tea. Assuming no allergies, the worst it can do is relieve anxiety, and that could be all you need.

The annual flowering chamomile.
The annual flowering chamomile.

Where's the Best?

For many, the effects of chamomile are undisputed. So where can you find really good chamomile tea? For starters, try the supermarket.

Today's shelves are stocked with a wide variety of brands, including some whole leaf and organic options. One of these is bound to be potent enough for you, and cheaper. The cost of tea at a boutique like TeaVana could be 5 or 6 times what you will pay at a regular store.

Another option are online tea vendors. Many excellent tea retailers are online, including JingTea.com and teaspring.com. Amazon has a wide selection of teas as well, and always at a decent price. Find the option that works best for you, but never pay more than necessary. You are buying teas, not prescription pharmaceuticals.


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    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I didn't know that people on blood thinners should avoid chamomile. I have been occassionaly drinking tea with it included. I will definitely be more careful. Great, informative hub. Up and useful.

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Great hub. So glad to see that you put the appropriate warnings. So many don't do this, and it is so important. Herbs are natural, but they are medicine. There can be reactions to meds, as well as herb to herb reactions. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • Free2seethemoon profile image
      Author

      Free2seethemoon 5 years ago from Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean

      KoffeKlatch Gals, thanks for reading my hub! Apparently it is true, according to the three references I used at least. Nobody says just HOW dangerous this is, it's just a warning. Thank you for your votes and comments!

    • Free2seethemoon profile image
      Author

      Free2seethemoon 5 years ago from Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean

      cloverleaffarm, thank you for reading. I always try to post appropriate warnings when they come up in the research, thank you for noticing. Aloha!

    • christryon profile image

      christryon 3 years ago

      Thank you for including information about the negative side effects of chamomile. Too many articles tout the benefits without mentioning the risks.

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