natural relaxants chamomile

It’s well known that what you eat and drink plays a vital role in how well you function, and some substances exacerbate anxiety while others help alleviate it. Coffee and caffeine are big inducers, and chamomile tea is a great soother.

chamomile pint

What is Chamomile?

German Chamomile

Chamomile is a type of plant from the daisy family. People refer to the drink as “Chamomile tea” but there’s no tea in it. Rather, the drink is made by taking the flowers of the plant and infusing them in hot water. The two main types of chamomile used for “tea” are German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).

Chamomile has a long history dating back thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used it treat to fevers. They also used it for cosmetics and in embalming oil as well. The ancient Romans used it to flavor drinks and make incense, as well using it as a medicinal herb. In the Middle Ages, chamomile was used to flavor beer before hops was employed, and it was also used medicinally. It’s been used for various medicinal purposes throughout the years since then.

Uses

Chamomile has been used for many medicinal reasons. Some of its uses have been verified by scientific studies, while other uses are just folklore (people say it works for them). It has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent, an anti-hyperglycemic agent, anti-cancer agent, anti-fever agent, and to soothe the gastrointestinal system. It is used to combat hay fever, muscle spasms, insomnia, ulcers, menstrual disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemmorhoids. But the use that I’m most concerned with is its use as an anti-anxiety agent.

Here are some scientific papers evaluating its effects:

Anti-Anxiety Evidence

Chamomile contains two chemicals that promote relaxation, apigenin and luteolin. Here are some studies that demonstrate chamomile’s effectiveness to soothe anxiety. It is recommended you drink 2-3 cups of chamomile tea per day, but of course you should just do what works for you.

  • This study tested the inhalation of chamomile oil (aromatherapy) and found that it lowered ACTH levels in the blood. ACTH is Adenocorticotropic hormone, and it increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol. You can learn about ACTH here. The study found chamomile oil was useful for the treatment of depression and anxiety in post-menopausal women.
  • This study at the University of Pennsylvania tested the use of chamomile capsules (chamomile extract) to see if it reduced anxiety in people with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). The results showed a marked decrease in anxiety in those who consumed the capsules for eight weeks.
  • This study showed that chamomile led to “significant inhibition” of Generalized Anxiety Disorder activity.
  • This study studied 61 patients with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) and found that chamomile reduced anxiety symptoms.
  • This study tested the effect of inhaling chamomile oil (aromatherapy) on 56 ICU patients to see whether it helped sleep, lowered blood pressure, and alleviated anxiety. The results showed that “the aromatherapy effectively reduced the anxiety levels and increased the sleep quality of the patients”.
  • This study found that chamomile “showed significant inhibition of glutamic acid decarboxylase” which lowers anxiety symptoms. If you want to read how glutamic acid decarboxylase aids anxiety and depression, read this article.

What to Look Out For

  • Chamomile is generally very safe to either inhale (aromatherapy) or consume (tea). There have been a few cases of people having an allergic reaction and going into anaphylactic shock. So if you’re allergic to certain plants like ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies please be careful.
  • Interactions between chamomile and cyclosporine (a drug used to prevent rejection of organ transplants) and warfarin (a blood thinner) have been reported. Talk to your doctor before taking chamomile if you’re taking any type of medicine.
  • For me, I think that suffering from anxiety is exhausting and well, just plain miserable. So adding some chamomile to your anti-anxiety toolkit is a great idea because
        • Many studies have demonstrated its effectiveness
        • It’s generally very safe
        • It comes with other healthy benefits (anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, etc.) (see above)
        • It’s inexpensive and easy to get (or grow yourself)
        • It smells nice

    What to Get: Highest-Rated Products

    As with anything you buy, you want to make sure you’re getting high-quality stuff. The best thing to do is grow it yourself. Then it’s completely fresh and you know no chemicals have been added. If you’d rather purchase it, however, here are the products with very high ratings. (You can click the picture to get it if you want).

    german-chamomile-seeds
    500 German Chamomile Seeds $3.50

    stash-chamomile-tea
    Stash Tea Chamomile Herbal Tea, 100 Count Box of Tea Bags in Foil $14.20

    davidsons-loose-chamomile-tea
    Davidson’s Loose Chamomile Flower Tea, 16 Ounce Bag $13.55

    roman-chamomile-essential-oil
    Roman Chamomile Essential Oil, 10 mL $13.99

    german-chamomile-essential-oil
    Plant Therapy German Chamomile Essential Oil, 5 mL $19.95

    chamomile-capsules
    Nature’s Way Chamomile, 60 Capsules (355mg) $7.69

What’s your experience with chamomile? Have you used it? Does it help you? Please share in the comments below.