Chamomile is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs in the world due to its countless medicinal properties and comprehensive health benefits, largely thanks to the fact that it is rich in phenolic compounds such as flavonoids.
To highlight: Derivatives of flavonoids such as apigenin and catechin have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, anti-hyperglycemic, relaxing and/or sedative properties, among many others.
This is why chamomile is often used in the treatment of digestive disorders, congestion, to relieve states of stress and anxiety, and as a healing, antiseptic and bacteriostatic.
What is chamomile?
This aromatic herb is one of the oldest medicinal plants, its use dates back to the Middle Ages, when it was used to treat skin conditions, asthma, fever, inflammation, nervous disorders, etc.
Note: Chamomile, as it is another way of calling it, has the scientific name Chamaemelum nobile. It consists of different varieties where the Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla also known as German chamomile stands out.
Its widespread use is due to its easy climatic and geographical adaptation, which is why it is cultivated in most of the world.
It is one of the plants that is most consumed in the form of an infusion, it is also found as an essential oil widely used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry, whose characteristic and so pleasant smell is due to one of its components: terpenes.
8 properties and benefits of chamomile for health
The therapeutic benefits and countless properties of chamomile are diverse, always hand in hand with the action of its main components.
Where we highlight its effects on the digestive system helping in the digestion of food, calming and anti-stress action, favors the action of the immune system, helps in the healing of tissues and in the control of various pathologies, etc.
1. Reduces stress
Chamomile has the ability to reduce neural activity and produce a depressive effect on the central nervous system, which attenuates states of over-stimulation, in turn decreasing stress levels.
This is thanks to the action of flavonoids, which, having sedative, anxiolytic and anticonvulsant properties, are recognized as a new type of benzodiazepines without presenting the adverse effects of the latter.
To highlight: Also, it was shown that inhaling the vapor of chamomile oil reduces the levels of plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone, which is responsible for stimulating the secretion of cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone.
2. Improves digestion
Chamomile benefits and stimulates digestion as it helps coordinate gastrointestinal movements and relaxes the muscles that move food during the digestive process.
Being antispasmodic, it reduces pain, spasms and abdominal cramps and also the symptoms of heartburn. On the other hand, it helps expel gases accumulated in the intestines.
It reduces the risk of indigestion and infections in the digestive tract and promotes the action of the intestinal flora.
Protects and repairs the gastric membrane, especially in irritated areas. Likewise, it decreases the production of gastric acids and increases the secretion of mucin which acts as a physical barrier that protects the epithelial cells of the stomach.
Note: One of the components of chamomile, tannins, have the ability to create an insoluble layer on the inflamed gastrointestinal mucosa, protecting it against the action of irritants and preventing the absorption of bacterial toxins.
3. Calming and relaxing
Chamomile essential oil, apart from its anti-inflammatory and spasmolytic properties, also has relaxing and slightly sedative properties thanks to the presence of flavonoids.
To highlight: In the practice of aromatherapy, the inhalation of vaporized chamomile essential oils is often used to relieve states of anxiety and treat insomnia.
Thanks to the fact that it is a good minor anxiolytic and its calming effect, they recommend drinking its infusion before going to sleep as it helps to fall asleep.
This calming effect is believed to be due to the binding of the flavonoid apigenin to benzodiazepine receptors located in the brain.
4. Helps control diabetes
Chamomile is said to help with the treatment of diabetes as it favors the control of blood sugar levels. This was demonstrated in a study conducted in people between the ages of 30 and 60 diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
To highlight: The study group, which ingested chamomile infusion 3 times a day for 8 weeks, showed a significant decrease in the concentration of glycosylated hemoglobin (blood protein that results from the binding of glucose to hemoglobin).
This, in contrast to the control group which did not have this result after ingesting only water during those 8 weeks.
Researchers concluded that this herb helps control the glycemic index by suppressing blood glucose levels. In turn, this decreases the probability of suffering the complications of this disease.
Likewise, they determined that this effect is not influenced or mediated by insulin secretion, but that chamomile also has a protective action on the beta cells of the pancreas (responsible for secreting insulin).
5. Helps relieve dizziness
A clinical case report published in 2018 highlighted this medicinal plant as one of the therapies used for the treatment of Ménière’s disease, which affects the inner ear and causes vertigo, loss of balance, and other symptoms.
The therapy was based on a chamomile decoction 3 times a day and on performing massages in the area of the ears, forehead and neck with its essential oil. This in conjunction with other natural medicines.
Note: In the opinion of the researchers, this herb has the property of degrading the pathological substances accumulated in the ear, avoiding their re-accumulation in it.
6. Helps treat wounds and inflammations
As already mentioned, among the components of chamomile, flavonoids and tannins stand out , which protect cells and favor the production of collagen necessary in the wound healing process.
In a study where the use of topical chamomile was evaluated in the healing of wounds resulting from tattoo dermabrasion, they had favorable results in the drying of the wound, resistance to rupture and in the rapidity of epithelialization. (5)
Note: Likewise, alpha bisabolol (terpene), the main essential oil of Matricaria chamomilla, has regenerative properties and speeds up healing processes.
Among its properties to reduce inflammatory states and reinforce and protect the immune system against microbial activity, are:
- It prevents the release of prostaglandins (responsible for the inflammatory response to wounds, burns, infections, etc.), by inhibiting the action of the cyclooxygenase-2 enzyme through azulene.
- Anti-infectious and bacteriostatic action thanks to alpha bisabolol.
- Purifying and diuretic effect that allows the elimination of toxic substances in the blood, due to the presence of flavonoids.
An investigation determined that the consumption of chamomile is associated with greater antibacterial activity, after its participants ingested 5 cups of the infusion per day for a period of 2 weeks.
7. Relieves menstrual cramps
Due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory (alpha bisabolol), antispasmodic (apigenin) and relaxant (flavonoids) effects, it has been used as an effective treatment for premenstrual syndrome.
Thanks to its components, relief from menstrual pain or cramps is generated, the inflammatory response and painful sensation decreases (due to the inhibition of cox-2) and the impact of neurotransmitters and hormones on the nervous system is attenuated.
8. Removes impurities from the skin
The antioxidant power of phenolic compounds acts by protecting cells against the action of free radicals (eliminates them) and consequently the signs of aging are delayed.
To highlight: The topical application of chamomile promotes skin repair processes in cases of acne, eczema, blisters, etc.
In addition, it protects the skin against external agents, avoiding inflammation and infection.
How to prepare a chamomile infusion?
The most common way to prepare chamomile is by means of an infusion, which is a drink that is made by pouring boiled water on the leaves, fruits -and in this case- or dried flowers of an aromatic plant and then letting it rest for a few minutes.
Another option is to make a decoction in which, in contrast to an infusion, the flowers are added to the water while it is boiling and still on the fire.
The infusion can also be prepared using pre-made bags with flower powder inside them, which last longer due to their dehydration process.
Note: The usual method for making a chamomile infusion is to place about 2 teaspoons of this herb in a glass of previously boiled water and let it stand covered for 10 minutes. After this, it strains and it is ready to drink.
It is also valid and beneficial to add other medicinal herbs to the infusion, such as mint, fennel, linden, among others. This can enhance the action of chamomile while adding other healing properties.
At the same time, a healthier and more natural option is to sweeten with honey instead of refined sugar.
As previously explained, chamomile strengthens the immune system, which is why its infusion is recommended to combat conditions related to colds.
Respiratory tract conditions: Place 3 teaspoons of dried flowers in 1 cup of previously boiled water. Let stand for 15 minutes, strain and sweeten with honey. Take every 4 hours.
To highlight: A variant is to add a squeeze of lemon to the previous preparation or make another by adding a tablespoon of chamomile, one of mint and one of linden to half a liter of water, and follow the same subsequent steps.
Decongestant: Pour half a cup of water to a tablespoon of chamomile, let stand, strain and cool. Place in a dropper and instill 2 drops in each nostril. Blow to discharge mucus.
To reduce inflammation and refresh the eye area: Place the infusion already at room temperature in a bucket and take it to the refrigerator until it solidifies. Wrap the cubes in a clean cloth and place over the eyes.
Note: Another way is to place the infusion bags sold by commercial brands on the eyes as a compress. They are placed for a few minutes in the refrigerator and once cold they can be used.
The previous options can also be used in case of conjunctivitis but always under the prior approval of a specialist doctor.
To activate circulation: Take a bath with the hot or cold infusion, according to preference. It also promotes the removal of toxins from the skin and has a rejuvenating effect after a busy day.
To reduce acne: Make an infusion with chamomile and plantain using little water. Blend and once it is at room temperature place the mask on the clean face in the affected areas. Leave 20 minutes and remove with cold water.
Menstrual cramps: Make an infusion with chamomile and ginger. First, the root is boiled for 5 minutes, after which the heat is turned off, the flowers are added and it is left to rest for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey.
Skin inflammations: Apply cold compresses on the affected part. You can also take baths for 15 minutes with an infusion quite loaded with flowers.
Soothing: Make an infusion with chamomile, rosemary, thyme and strawberry leaves. Drink after eating and preferably before sleeping. Another option is to take showers with this preparation, adding a few drops of essential oil to warm water.
Nervous or anxiety states: Take an infusion prepared with chamomile, linden and valerian flowers.
In relation to the essential oil, it can also be used to massage muscles or joints where there is pain and cramps, in order to reduce inflammation while relaxing and stimulating circulation.
Note: This oil can be made at home and we are going to explain how: You must macerate half a cup of dried flowers in a cup of olive oil and let it rest for a couple of hours. Then, store it in a glass container that is dark and closes well.
Another effective method is the topical application of commercial chamomile-based lotions.
In relation to the use of chamomile you should take into account the following:
- It should not be taken during pregnancy (especially the first trimester) since by stimulating the uterus it can cause contractions.
- It should not be given to children under 6 years of age without the supervision of a specialist doctor.
- Do not take without medical supervision if you suffer from gastritis or peptic ulcer.
- In some people topical application can cause dermatitis.
Important: A study determined that this infusion can be used as a method to reduce gingival inflammation in cases of periodontal disease. (8)
Other research highlighted its ability to increase salivary flow and the ability of saliva to buffer PH changes, which is considered an anticariogenic action.
By producing this, it prevents the oral cavity from becoming a favorable environment for the proliferation of bacteria that, through the fermentation of sugars, produce acids that are harmful to the teeth.
- Chamomile is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs in the world, due to its multiple benefits for comprehensive health. It is also easy to adapt to climate and geography, which is why it is cultivated in most of the world.
- Chamomile is also known as chamomile. This is mostly consumed in the form of an infusion, but it is also found as an essential oil and is used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.
- Among some of its health benefits, through scientific studies, chamomile has been shown to help treat diseases such as diabetes, periodontitis and Ménière’s disease.
- The infusion of chamomile in the form of a drink is widely used to improve digestion, relieve menstrual cramps, relax and fall asleep. Also when inhaling this infusion, it helps to relieve dizziness, calm nerves or anxiety, etc.