chamomile tea

What Is Chamomile Tea Actually Good For? A Registered Dietitian Weighs In

Are you one of those who find solace in sipping a cup of chamomile tea, wrapped up in the coziness of your couch? If so, you're well aware of the relaxing properties of chamomile tea. But did you know that besides its sleep-inducing qualities, chamomile tea harbors a plethora of potential health benefits? Think heart health, digestive wellness, and mental well-being, just to scratch the surface. Let's delve into what scientific research reveals about the remarkable advantages and potential risks of chamomile tea.

What Is Chamomile Tea?

Chamomile, a delicate flower, is meticulously dried and brewed into herbal tea. Its historical usage dates back to ancient civilizations like Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as per the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Botanically, it bears a resemblance to a daisy, belonging to the Asteraceae family. The taste of chamomile tea is mild, with subtle floral notes enriched by hints of honey. Fortunately, this soothing elixir is readily available at your local grocery stores.
Related: Benefits of Chamomile Green Tea

7 Health Benefits of Chamomile Tea

  1. May Help You Sleep Better: The most renowned attribute of chamomile is its influence on sleep quality. A meta-analysis and systematic review in Phytotherapy Research (2019) concluded that chamomile indeed enhances sleep quality and alleviates generalized anxiety disorder. However, it's worth noting that it may not be as effective for insomnia or state anxiety. In light of a study in BMC Medical Education (2022), poor sleep quality can heighten state anxiety and the risk of depression. Thus, the enhanced sleep quality facilitated by chamomile tea might have enduring effects on mental well-being.

  2. May Improve Cancer-Related Health Complications: Cancer remains a prominent cause of mortality in the United States, as reported by the American Cancer Society. The challenges associated with cancer can severely impact the quality of life. A systematic review published in Integrative Cancer Therapies (2023) suggests that chamomile can serve as a valuable adjunct therapy to alleviate certain cancer-related health issues. The study found that chamomile effectively reduces oral mucositis, skin complications, depression, and vomiting in cancer patients. It also enhances appetite and overall quality of life. It's worth noting that various forms of chamomile were employed in these studies, including mouthwash, topical applications, tea, capsules, syrup, and aromatherapy massage. Hence, the extent to which these effects apply specifically to chamomile tea requires further investigation.

  3. May Promote Digestive Health: Globally, one of the most common applications of chamomile is in promoting gastrointestinal health. A review in the journal Life (2022) highlights various instances, from alleviating nausea in Spain to reducing gastrointestinal discomfort in Turkey. Chamomile is believed to soothe symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and mitigate inflammation, as suggested by Integrative Medicine. Additionally, it can function as an antispasmodic agent, diminishing gastric spasms that often lead to diarrhea. However, it's important to note that several studies in this domain have been conducted on animals, particularly mice and rats. More research involving human subjects is required to validate chamomile's digestive health benefits.

    Related: Chamomile: A Herbal Medicine of the Past with a Bright Future

  4. May Reduce Diabetes-Related Health Complications: Diabetes, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, elevates the risk of various medical complications such as vision impairment, heart disease, and chronic kidney disease. Chamomile tea may be of assistance owing to its antioxidant profile. A systematic review in Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2020) suggests that chamomile can reduce oxidative stress and ameliorate renal and hepatic complications. It also plays a role in improving glycemic control in individuals with diabetes. Chamomile is rich in phenolic compounds and terpenoids, which, according to a study in the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders (2022), might serve as an herbal treatment option for diabetes.

  5. May Promote Heart Health: Another commendable benefit of chamomile, as mentioned in the review from 2020, is its potential to improve lipid profiles. High cholesterol levels are a recognized risk factor for heart disease, and chamomile tea could contribute to better heart health. Moreover, a small-scale study conducted in 2023 and published in the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association discovered that participants who consumed a blend of saffron and chamomile tea twice a day for one month, in addition to their regular medications, exhibited significantly improved levels of cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and depression values. It's important to acknowledge that while this study shows promise, it's not conclusive evidence that chamomile alone is solely responsible for these improvements, as saffron was also an ingredient in the tea.

  6. Might Improve Symptoms of Depression: In addition to its positive influence on sleep quality, chamomile may also mitigate symptoms of depression. Improved sleep quality can, in itself, lower the risk of depression, given the well-established link between poor sleep quality and depressive symptoms. Furthermore, while research in this specific area is somewhat limited, a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing in 2016 found that after a two-week period, the consumption of chamomile tea led to an improvement in physical well-being concerning sleep insufficiency and depressive symptoms among postpartum women, when compared to a control group. However, the positive effects didn't persist when assessed at a four-week follow-up. This suggests that the benefits of chamomile tea may be more immediate and not necessarily long-lasting.

  7. May Ease Menstrual Symptoms: Few people enjoy dealing with the discomfort of cramps and mood swings in the days leading up to their period. Fortunately, chamomile may offer relief. A review in the Journal of Pharmacopuncture (2019) concluded that chamomile could be an effective herbal treatment for premenstrual syndrome, thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, sedative, and anti-anxiety properties. It's important to note that various forms of chamomile, including tea, capsules, extracts, and oils, were utilized in the studies reviewed. Therefore, the extent to which tea alone provides these benefits requires further investigation.

Related: Explore the Best Teas to Boost Your Immune System

chamomile green tea


Who Shouldn't Drink Chamomile Tea?

While chamomile tea boasts several potential health benefits, it's essential to exercise caution in certain situations:

People with Specific Allergies: The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) advises individuals with allergies to chamomile and related plants such as ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies to steer clear of chamomile due to the risk of an allergic reaction. Reactions can range from mild symptoms like watery eyes and a runny nose to severe conditions, including anaphylaxis. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology notes that severe reactions may manifest as difficulty in breathing, hives, swelling, and fainting. In the case of a severe allergic reaction, it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention.

People Taking Specific Medications: Chamomile may interact with certain medications, including warfarin and cyclosporine, as cautioned by the NCCIH. If you are currently on these medications, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider before incorporating chamomile tea or other chamomile products into your routine.

Pregnant or Breastfeeding Individuals: There is limited research regarding the safety of consuming chamomile tea during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, according to the NCCIH. As a precaution, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider before including chamomile tea in your diet during these critical periods.

What's the Ideal Time to Enjoy Chamomile Tea for Better Sleep?

Many individuals recommend sipping a cup of chamomile tea approximately 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime. This timing allows your body ample time to metabolize the nutrients and reap the sleep-inducing benefits. However, it's worth noting that specific recommendations regarding when and how frequently to consume chamomile tea for optimal sleep benefits lack robust scientific consensus. If you often experience nighttime awakenings for bathroom trips, you might consider drinking your chamomile tea a bit earlier in the evening to minimize sleep interruptions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does chamomile tea help detox your body?

Chamomile tea's rise in popularity aligns with the broader trend of detoxification. However, it's important to understand that your liver and kidneys are remarkably efficient organs that naturally handle detoxification as long as they are healthy. Chamomile tea itself does not possess detoxifying properties but can potentially reduce inflammation due to its antioxidant content.

2. Is it good to drink chamomile tea every day?

For the majority of people, consuming chamomile tea daily is safe and may confer various health benefits, including enhanced digestion, improved sleep quality, and bolstered mental well-being. Nevertheless, individuals with specific allergies or those taking medications such as warfarin and cyclosporine should exercise caution, as chamomile can provoke allergic reactions or interact with medications. Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals, in particular, should consult with their healthcare provider before making chamomile tea a regular part of their routine due to limited research on its safety in these populations.

3. What's the best way to make chamomile tea?

Preparing a soothing cup of chamomile tea is a straightforward process with a few delightful variations. You can opt for chamomile tea bags readily available at most stores, steeped in hot water for convenience. Alternatively, you can explore the world of dried or fresh chamomile flowers, combining them with additional ingredients such as ginger, lavender, or rosemary for a personalized touch.

4. Does chamomile tea make you sleepy?

The widespread belief in chamomile's sleep-inducing properties is well-founded. Scientific research has shown that chamomile can improve sleep quality. However, it's important to note that chamomile tea might not be effective for treating insomnia.

5. What are other healthy teas besides chamomile?

Chamomile is not the sole contender in the realm of health-promoting herbal teas. There are numerous options to explore, each offering its unique antioxidants and potential health benefits. Some noteworthy alternatives include sage, green tea, peppermint, and ginger.

The Bottom Line

Chamomile tea is not only a relaxing and comforting beverage but also a potential adjunct therapy for various health concerns, including diabetes, high cholesterol, and depression. While it offers an array of health benefits, it's essential to consider specific precautions for individuals with allergies, those taking certain medications, and pregnant or breastfeeding individuals. Otherwise, chamomile tea stands as a safe, delicious, and budget-friendly addition to your pantry. You can easily steep a regular tea bag and add a touch of honey for a delightful experience, or explore more intricate recipes like our Relaxing Chamomile Green Tea to indulge in the soothing flavors of nature.
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