Chamomile is used to help with many health problems, including sleep disorders. Chamomile actually comes from its own daisy-like plant that is best known for its ability to be made into a tea which is commonly served with either honey or lemon. Chrysin, a specific flavonoid found in chamomile, has been shown to be anxiolytic and is believed to be at least partially responsible for chamomile’s reputation to help those with insomnia fall asleep easy, as it is known to reduce stress.
The MedlinePlus file maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lists over 100 separate ailments and conditions which chamomile has been traditionally used, for which it lists only a few as having undergone scientific study on animals and/or humans. Chamomile has been used as a treatment for such conditions as cardiovascular conditions, common cold, diarrhea in children, eczema, gastrointestinal conditions, hemorrhagic cystitis, hemorrhoids, infantile colic, mucositis from cancer treatment, quality of life in cancer patients, open penile sores, skin inflammation, sleep aid, vaginitis, and wound healing.
Chamomile is a well known name when it comes to herbal remedies having rich anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and sedative properties. Chamomile processed tea is very commonly used for causing drowsiness and relieving stress. Unlike some herbal sleep remedies, chamomile does not have to be taken on a regular basis to be effective as it provides quick relief when taken right before bedtime.
You can buy chamomile as dried flowers, liquid extracts, capsules, tablets, and ointments/creams applied to the skin. MedlinePlus says chamomile has been used as a douche, mouth rinse, tincture, and bath additive. Some natural medicines recommend a paste, plaster, or ointment with 3% to 10% chamomile flower heads. The dried herb is made into potpourri and herb pillows, and is burned for aromatherapy. The flowers are edible and quite tasty in salads or made into a refreshing cold or warm beverage.
According to The National Center for Complementary and Alternatie medicine the side effects include an allergic reaction, skin rash, drowsiness or sedation (ah, isn’t this the reason we are taking it?) and uterine stimulation which may lead to miscarriage. Not recommended for those that are pregnant or breastfeeding. Use chamomile with caution when driving or operating heavy machinery.
Chamomile is part of the Asteraceae plant family, which includes ragweed and chrysanthemum, so people with allergies may react when they use chamomile either internally or topically. Call your doctor if you experience vomiting, skin irritation, allergic reactions (chest tightness, wheezing, hives, rash, itching) after chamomile use. In large doses chamomile can cause vomiting.
Chamomile contains coumarin, a naturally-occurring compound with anticoagulant or blood-thinning effects. It should not be combined with warfarin or other medications or supplements that have the same effect or used by people with bleeding disorders. The dose might need changing, and an increase in blood pressure is possible. You should stop taking chamomile two weeks before or after surgery to reduce excess bleeding and bruising.
The NCCAM warns that some people have eaten or come into contact with chamomile and then had anaphylaxis as a result. This is an uncommon but life-threatening allergic reaction. According to MedicineNet.com, caution is advised if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence or liver disease.
Before taking chamomile or any supplement it is advised to check with your doctor if you are taking any other herbs, prescription drugs and/or over-the-counter medications that might interact with chamomile, or any health problems that chamomile might worsen.
According to MedlinePlus, “chamomile interactions are not well studied scientifically.” The website says chamomile might interact with:
• anticoagulants or anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin
• non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen or naproxen
• barbiturates such as phenobarbital
• benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan) or diazepam (Valium)
• drugs that affect blood pressure or blood sugar
• calcium channel blockers
• cardiac depressants
• cardiac glycosides
• central nervous system depressants
• drugs for diarrhea
• drugs for gastrointestinal problems
• drugs for high cholesterol
• drugs for ulcers
• drugs using the liver’s “cytochrome P450″ enzyme system
• narcotics such as codeine
• respiratory depressants
• SERM drugs like raloxifene (a prescription drug used for osteoporosis)
• tamoxifen (a prescription drug used for cancer)
The UMMC advises that chamomile might interact with:
• anticonvulsants such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and valproic acid (Depakote)
• birth control pills
• Fexofenadine (Seldane)
• drugs to treat insomnia
Luscious Chamomile Apple Salad – One Serving
Flowers of this medicinal plant are edible. Wash it thoroughly in the running water and make sure it is absolutely clean.
1 Apple cubed
1 Boiled potato cubed
½ Cucumber sliced
½ Can cooked corn
1 Large carrot chopped
Chamomile flowers – 2-3 tablespoon
Finely cut coriander leaves – 2-3 tablespoon
Lemon Juice 1 Tablespoon
Olive Oil – 2 Tablespoon
Salt to taste
In a big bowl put all the ingredients. Toss it well together. Combine dressing ingredients separately in a bottle, shake well and pour it on the salad. Retoss and enjoy.
Chamomile Tea Recipe – One serving
1 cup of water
1 tsp. dried chamomile flowers
First, bring the water to the boil in a saucepan. Add the dried chamomile flowers to the water (either directly or using a tea infuser) and boil for thirty to forty-five seconds with the lid on. Remove tea from the heat and let the flowers steep for another minute. The loose flowers can then be removed from the tea using a strainer. Served with honey and a little lemon juice, this tea is a tasty way to unwind after a busy day and its calming properties usually begin to take effect within a half hour of drinking a cup. For added sedative effect, substitute a few leaves of Lemon Balm for the lemon juice.
Bath Sleep Aide
For Bath: Use ½ to 1 cup fresh or dried herb tied in linen bag. Place in tub with hot water let soak for 10 min. then add cold water to a desired temperature. Remember not to take too hot of a bath before bedtime as this will increase your body temperature and this will take longer for you to go to sleep. Do not add soap to bath, as it will coat your skin and not allow the chamomile to penetrate.
Enjoy the salad, tea or bath two hours or less before going to bed and get a good night’s sleep. Avoid alcohol and caffeine prior to going to bed to achieve the greatest benefit from chamomile and to fall asleep easy. The content in Fall Asleep Easy with Chamomile is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep disorders and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.