Chamomile: Health Benefits

There are two common flowers from different species that are called chamomile, German Chamomile and Roman Chamomile. Although one is an annual and the other a perennial, the flowers of both plants are very similar chemically, both providing most of the same health benefits. It should be noted that most of the studies conducted using chamomile used the German variety. In medieval times, chamomile was thought to be almost a cure-all. Even today many positive claims are made for chamomile.

Bright Chamomile

Chamomile is typically consumed in the form of chamomile tea. Even so, it has become such a popular herb that it can now be found in capsules, tablets, creams and ointments. People primarily think of it as a relaxing drink to be taken before bed-time to aid in deep and restful sleep. Chamomile does have a relaxing effect on the human system at least in part because it contains glycine. It can relieve stress and tension.

Along the same lines, chamomile contains an anti-spasmodic that can help relieve digestive problems such as diarrhea, cramps, stomach aches, excessive gas, and intestinal bloating. It has also been found to be efficacious in dealing with muscle cramps and menstrual regularity.

Chamomile and Diabetes

Some studies seem to indicate that certain complications of diabetes (loss of vision, nerve, and kidney damage) can be ameliorated by consuming chamomile. These studies, from Japan and Great Britain conducted on rats with diabetes, showed significant reduction in the amount of blood glucose levels as well as two enzymes that cause nerve damage.1

Chamomile and Cancer

Claims have also been made that chamomile kills cancer cells even while sparing normal cells. It is thought to be able to do this through a substance called apigenin, which is an anti-oxidant, through a process of apoptosis or programmed cell death.2 However, extensive studies have not yet been done to verify these claims.

Other Effects of Chamomile

Chamomile has an anti-microbial agent that can help boost the immune system. It can inhibit harmful bacterias. Because of this property, it has been tried as a mouthwash, and has many advocates who believe it can control gingivitis.

It has long been known that chamomile can be used topically in helping to control eczema, dermatitis, and rashes. It is said to have anti-irritant properties that handle itches and the burning sensation of sunburn.

Chamomile has been tried, with apparent success, in dealing with a whole host of other maladies, including controlling irritable bowl syndrome, curing colic in babies, reducing joint pain, sore throat, and relieving headaches. Chamomile also is used in many shampoos because it gives a sheen to hair.

Chamomile Negatives

Because chamomile is related to ragweed and the daisy, it may cause an allergic reaction in some people. It may also interact with some medicines (especially blood-thiners), so a physician should be consulted especially when consuming large amounts of chamomile.

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  1. Medicinenet article previously found at: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=92632 on Chamomile and Diabetes
  2. Chamomile and Cancer

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