You likely know chamomile as the popular sleep tea ingredient known for its sleep-inducing properties, but there is a lot more to this ancient herb than meets the eye. For centuries, people have used chamomile for its healing and medicinal properties, and it continues to be studied and used today.
In recent years there has been a collective shift in the opinions of natural remedies. For years in our modern society, many believed prescription medications to be the only option to remedy what ails us. People forgot our ancient ancestors' remedies and herbal tinctures and felt that modern medication was the best choose. That is beginning to change with people now taking a more holistic approach, combing modern medicine with traditional herbal remedies.
The word comes from ancient Greek, Chamomaela, which translates to ground apple. It got its name because the chamomile flower was believed to smell like an apple blossom. Chamomile is a flowering plant that is a part of the daisy family. Although it is now found all over the world, it is native to Europe and Western Asia. The flower contains over 120 chemical constituents which are considered pharmacologically active.
Chamomile goes back to the days of ancient Egyptians. The flowers were crushed up and rubbed on the skin to cure fevers, and it was also the main ingredient in embalming oil when preserving pharaohs bodies. It was also used by Hippocrates in 500 BC used to treat a long list of conditions.
Later, it was used by the Romans. They added it to drinks, used it as incense, and as a medicinal herb. Europe’s history with chamomile has been recorded since the 1st century and has remained widely used ever since.
You can even find it referenced in the original Beatrix Potter book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, “…Peter was not very well during the evening. His mother put him to bed, and made some chamomile tea, and she gave a dose of it to Peter.” These words were written in 1901 when chamomile was commonly made into tea and drank to aid with sleep. Chamomile-rich sleep teas are still used, helping many enjoy better quality sleep as they lay comfortably on their buckwheat pillow.
To make chamomile tea, the flowers are dried and then infused in hot water. This is a popular caffeine-free tea alternative with a sweet yet earthy flavor. It can also be taken as a supplement to provide the many health benefits chamomile is known for.
The Benefits of Chamomile: Good for the Mind, Body, and Soul
Today chamomile is one of the most widely consumed herbs. This is primarily because of its gentle ability to provide several benefits to the mind, body, and soul.
Protects against certain types of cancer
Apigenin, the same antioxidant that helps you sleep, is believed to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of some types of cancer. Although more research needs to be done, the preliminary studies are very promising. For example, in a test tube study, apigenin was found to fight cancer cells, specifically the breast, skin, prostate, uterus, and digestive tract. In addition, a much larger study observed 537 people who drank chamomile tea between 2 to 6 times a week and found they were significantly less likely to develop thyroid cancer.
Chamomile possesses specific chemical compounds that reduce inflammation. Inflammation is the reaction of your immune system to fight off infection, and although it has short-term benefits, chronic inflammation can lead to more severe health conditions.
Helps control blood sugar
Chamomile tea may help you lower blood sugar levels. This can have many positive effects and prevent health issues associated with elevated blood sugar. Several studies have found that daily consumption of chamomile will significantly lower blood sugar. For example, one study of 64 diabetic individuals found that those who had chamomile tea with meals for eight weeks had a significantly lower blood sugar level when compared to those who just drank water. Additionally, studies have found it can prevent blood sugar spikes after eating.
Anxiety can cause insomnia and sleep troubles. For those suffering from anxiety-induced sleep difficulties, chamomile can be a powerful natural sleep aid supplement! A study conducted in 2016 found that when participants took 500 mg of chamomile three times a day for three months, anxiety levels were significantly reduced. In addition, research has found that it has a sedative effect that can soothe anxiety and provide antidepressant effects.
Improves digestive health
Your gut and digestive system play a significant role in your overall health. When your gut is healthy, you are healthy. Chamomile can help improve digestive function and health by reducing the risk of gastrointestinal conditions. Traditional medicine has used chamomile to treat digestive issues like nausea, gas, and diarrhea, and modern science has found similar benefits. For example, one rat study found that chamomile prevented stomach ulcers and reduced acidity in the stomach. In addition, a mice study found that chamomile extract could protect against diarrhea due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Reduces menstrual pain
Plenty of anecdotal reports and one 2010 study have found that chamomile tea can reduce menstrual cramps and menstrual pain. In this study, women consumed chamomile tea for a month and reported a reduction in menstrual cramps, anxiety, and distress associated with menstrual pain.
Improves heart health
Other antioxidants called flavones are also in chamomile tea. Research has found that flavones can potentially lower blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels. The same study found chamomile tea could reduce blood sugar and discovered that the individuals who drank chamomile tea with meals had improvements in their cholesterol levels.
Reduces gingivitis and plaque
Chamomile can also be good for your oral health. Some studies have found that it acts as a mouthwash, significantly reducing plaque and gingivitis. This is caused by its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Again, due to chamomiles' antibacterial properties, it can also help you fight off a cold. When you consistently drink chamomile tea, your levels of Hippurate and glycine increase. This shows an increase in antibacterial activity, which boosts your immune system.
Treats skin conditions
Though this benefit lacks recent research, an interesting study conducted in 1987 found that when chamomile extract was applied directly to a wound, it would increase healing. A few similar studies have also found that it may help in mild inflammatory skin conditions like eczema when added to ointments or creams.
Improves sleep quality and helps you fall asleep
The reason chamomile helps you sleep is because of an antioxidant called apigenin. It binds to receptors that promote sleepiness. One study found that when people consumed 270 mg of chamomile extract twice a day for four weeks had a better quality of sleep. The amount of time they woke up in the night was reduced, and they fell asleep 15 minutes faster when compared to those who did not take the chamomile extract.
Another study gave postpartum women chamomile tea for two weeks and then compared their sleep to those who did not have chamomile tea. Again, the results found that not only did their sleep quality improve, but they also experienced few symptoms of depression.
Consuming Chamomile for Better Sleep
A sleep tea containing chamomile and lavender can help you get a good night’s sleep and potentially improve your overall health. Many of the studies had participants drink chamomile tea daily for about four weeks to see results. Though you can feel the effects with just one cup, you should make it part of your bedtime routine. So, before you get comfy on your buckwheat pillow, brew a hot cup of chamomile tea and wait for the sleep-inducing effects to wash over you.
Michael Breus, Ph.D., psychologist and sleep specialist, told Insider that in order to get the most significant sleep benefits, you should drink one cup roughly 45 minutes before going to bed.
This will give your body enough time to metabolize the chamomile and get the sedative feeding from specific chemical compounds.
Although chamomile tea is the most common way of consuming chamomile, you will also find it listed as an ingredient in a natural sleep aid supplement. Natural sleep aid supplements that combine herbs and natural ingredients with sleep-inducing properties are incredibly effective and safe. Typically you will get a higher concentration of chamomile in a supplement than you would for a tea. A natural sleep aid supplement is also better for those who worry about waking up to use the bathroom.
Some people use chamomile essential oils, placing them on the skin or in a diffuser to help with sleep. When using an oil, you likely won’t receive all the benefits listed here but can experience a relaxing, tranquilizing effect. It is believed to reduce anxiety, calm the mind and help ease any aches or pains.
Level up your health and wellness by welcoming chamomile into your sleep regime and supplement supply. You will feel better and sleep better - and your body with thank you for it!