Scientific/Latin name: Matricaria chamomilla
Also known as: Camomile, German chamomile, Hungarian chamomile (kamilla), wild chamomile, blue chamomile, or scented mayweed
Native to: Europe, Africa, and Asia
Parts used: Flower
Top benefits: Calming (Nervine) + Digestive Support
Similar to your everyday daisy, chamomile flowers have small white petals with yellow centers, and grow on long, thin green stems. This flowering plant with a fresh herbal and sweet scent is one of the most well documented and most widely used plants in the medicinal world. Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman medicine texts describe chamomile use as a calming tea, to soothe skin ailments and for cases of fever, with the plant appearing in medical and botanical writings dating back as far as 5th Century BCE.
Today, chamomile is widely used as a remedy for digestion and stress in herbal medicine. It’s used in calming, sleepytime herbal tea blends, as essential oils for aromatherapy and as the active ingredient in many body and skincare products. Whether used to alleviate diaper rash, insomnia or various gastrointestinal disturbances, it’s the many active compounds called terpenoids and flavonoids that contribute to this happy-go-lucky flower’s vast medicinal properties.
As described further below, chamomile is considered a “nervine relaxant” – a plant with a relaxing effect on the nervous system that is very beneficial in times of stress – as well as an “antispasmodic” herb that relaxes physical tension by affecting peripheral nerves and muscle tissue. Together, these two actions of chamomile allow it to have a very holistic relaxing effect: it helps calm the nervous system, in turn relaxing the whole body, and it also relaxes the physical body, in turn promoting mental calm. This holistic action makes it invaluable in the treatment of many digestive system conditions (see below).
Health Benefits of Chamomile
Chamomile is considered an excellent mild sedative (and safe for use with children). Its sedative action is possibly due to its affinity for particular receptors in the brain, like the ones targeted by benzodiazepines — a class of pharmaceutical drugs often prescribed for severe anxiety or insomnia— resulting in a similar sedative effect. This relaxing herb is used in herbal medicine for anxiety and insomnia.
In two separate randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, chamomile was administered to test its effectiveness on generalized anxiety disorder and depression. Chamomile significantly reduced both anxiety and depression symptoms.
Chamomile has also been studied for its effect on premenstrual symptoms, particularly psychological and behavioral symptoms like irritability, anger, depression, increased appetite and loss of concentration. The participants given chamomile experienced a significant reduction in the intensity of their psychological and behavioral symptoms.
Chamomile is considered one of the most beneficial “antispasmodics” in herbal medicine: a remedy that can quickly relax any nervous tension that may be causing digestive spasms or acute gastrointestinal pain. As a key “carminative” herb, it also contains active compounds that relax digestive muscles, thereby increasing the intestine’s waves of contraction and reducing gas in the digestive system.
In one study, subjects with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were administered chamomile to evaluate its impact on IBS symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, stool consistency and difficulty defecating. Chamomile significantly reduced symptoms, and relief provided continued up to two weeks after the end of chamomile administration. Similarly, in an animal study, chamomile reduced colon injury and inflammation in rats with acute colitis.
The anti-inflammatory properties of Chamomile can also benefit digestive complaints related to inflammation and irritation. One in vitro study demonstrated that Chamomile’s anti-inflammatory effect takes place in the same pathway targeted by Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs: by reducing inflammatory compounds called prostaglandins. In other words, chamomile’s active compounds work in a similar way as painkillers to reduce inflammation.
JOYÀ products that feature Chamomile
The health research presented in this article is for informational use only. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and should not be construed as a recommendation of specific products. The products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information does not provide dosage or format recommendations or possible drug interactions, and accordingly, should be used with the advice of a qualified health care practitioner.