Chamomile flowers, which are a traditional folk remedy, are a common ingredient in tea as well as flavoring in food and drinks. For the most part, chamomile is considered safe, but researchers caution that studies continue on the effectiveness of the flower and that chamomile should not be used to replace mainstream medical treatments.
It is important to note that there are several types of chamomile flowers with the two most common, German chamomile and Roman chamomile, being used for tea.
What is chamomile used to treat? Chamomile is said effective in treating menstrual cramps, lowering blood sugar levels in diabetics, reducing inflammation, for osteoporosis, treating mild skin conditions, stomach ailments and also aiding in anxiety and sleeping. It has also been used to treat eczema, ulcers, gout, neuralgia and rheumatic pain.
But researchers say that aside from flavonoids, they are still unsure what other chemicals are in chamomile that account for its claimed benefits.
A 2010 study published in the US National Library of Medicine found dry chamomile flower of Egyptian origin was shown to prove beneficial as a potentially effective therapeutic anti-inflammatory agent.
Another group of study results published in 2011 show the positive benefits of chamomile on cancer cells, but only when used in combination with a mixture of seven standardized botanical extracts including chamomile.
The study did, however, reveal positive results for chamomile being used for infant colic disorders and gastrointestinal conditions, noting that further studies were required for other ailments such as osteoporosis, sleep aides, diabetes and wound healing and showed no positive study results when used for anxiety.
Researchers say that claims of chamomile being helpful with other ailments such as the common cold, cardiovascular conditions, eczema and other mild skin irritations, including sunburn, rashes, sores and even eye inflammations, has not been shown with evidence-based research.
What are the side effects of chamomile tea? Doctors warn that not all chamomile products, such as teas, are created equal. Some products have a significantly more chamomile in them than others, which can affect users more so than products that contain less amounts of chamomile.
It is advised to start with a low-dosage chamomile product. Some of the known side effects of chamomile tea can include vomiting and drowsiness if consumed in large doses. It has also been known to trigger allergic reactions in people with known allergies to plants such as daises.
People with health problems should consult their doctor before using chamomile since it contains coumarin, which could have mild blood thinning effects.