Chamomile’s vital antioxidants are found in the plant’s potent oils and are the main contributors to its natural healing properties. As an effective alternative medicine with almost no known negative side effects, chamomile has been used for nearly 5,000 years in standardized tea, herbal extract and cosmetic forms to promote tranquility, vitality, a youthful appearance and longevity.
Top 9 Chamomile Benefits
1. High Source of Antioxidants
The main antioxidant components extracted from chamomile flowers are the terpenoid group of antioxidants, including chamazulene and acetylene derivatives. Because these delicate compounds are unstable, they’re thought to be best preserved in an alcoholic tincture or “essential oil” form. Other major constituents of the flowers include several phenolic compounds, primarily the flavonoids, including apigenin, quercetin, patuletin as well as various glucosides. (1, 2, 3)
These compounds lower inflammation by fighting free radical damageand preventing cell mutation. Chamomile benefits start with antioxidants that are associated with better immune function; lower rates of mood disorders; reduced pain and swelling; and healthier skin, hair, nails, teeth and eyes.
2. Fights Anxiety and Depression
Chamomile, whether in tea, tincture or essential oil form, is one the best medicinal herbs for fighting stress and promoting relaxation, according to research from Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine and Pharmacognosy Review. (4, 5) Inhaling chamomile vapors using chamomile essential oils is often recommended as a natural remedy for anxiety and general depression, which is one reason why chamomile oil is a popular ingredient in many candles, aromatherapy products and bath-soaking treatments.
In extract form, chamomile is frequently used as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety because its vapors travel directly to the olfactory part of the brain, turning off tension and reducing the body’s stress response. This is why practitioners use chamomile to effectively relieve symptoms of chronic anxiety and stress, including hysteria, nightmares, insomnia and various digestive problems. (6)
Smells are carried directly to the brain, and they serve as an emotional trigger. The limbic system evaluates the sensory stimuli, registering pleasure, pain, danger or safety; this then directs our emotional response, such as feelings of fear, anger and attraction. Our basic emotions and hormonal balance are in response to the most basic smell. Scents are a direct pathway to memory and emotion. Fragrances, like chamomile, relieve pain and generally affect personality and behavior. Research proves that using oil fragrances is one of the fastest ways to achieve psychological results.
3. Improves Digestion
Believed to be a powerful digestive relaxant, chamomile can be used to treat various gastrointestinal disturbances, including gas, acid reflux symptoms,indigestion, diarrhea, anorexia, motion sickness, nausea and vomiting. Chamomile extract can help shorten the course of diarrhea and colic in children as well as relieve symptoms associated with the conditions like pain and anxiety. Chamomile oil also contains anodyne compounds that are anti-spasmodic, reducing cramping, constipation and other stomach pains.
Many of these benefits are due to chamomile’s natural relaxing effects. Because the brain and the gut communicate directly back and forth via the vagus nerve, a more relaxed mind can also help heal leaky gut, which can mean reduced symptoms of chronic conditions like leaky gut, IBS and other gut-related issues. Chamomile benefits include mellowing effects also make it a good choice for pregnant women in order to relax the digestive tract and act as a natural remedy for nausea.
4. Has Strong Anti-Inflammatory and Pain-Reducing Abilities
Chamomile is sometimes called an “herbal aspirin” since it’s been a popular home remedy for lowering pain for centuries. Chamomile flowers are used alone or in combination with other anti-inflammatory foods to reduce pain, congestion, swelling and redness. They’re effective at reducing facial swelling, skin irritations, toothaches, pain from infections and underlying issues of inflammation. This is the reason chamomile extract is commonly added to beauty products like facial or body lotions, toothpastes, and bath soaps.
Chamomile can also naturally lower pain associated with arthritis, injuries, back pain, fevers and pregnancy. In fact, its pain-reducing qualities are even used to soothe the body and mind after giving birth. For example, in some parts of the world like Mexico, chamomile tea is given to women after labor to relax their abdominal muscles and help them rest.
5. May Help Fight Cancer
Recently, several studies dug into the anti-cancer activity of chamomile. Evidence shows positive effects of chamomile stopping cancerous tumor growth and acting as a natural cancer treatment. Inhibition of cancerous cells is believed to be due to chamomile’s antioxidants called apigenin, which are bioactive constituents that appear to help fight skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers.
In a recent study published by the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, chamomile extracts were shown to cause minimal growth inhibitory effects on normal healthy cells, but showed significant reductions in human cancer cells, especially androgen-refractory cells that often lead to prostate cancer. (7)
6. Relieves Congestion
Because chamomile benefits include both fighting infections and reducing mucus congestion, it’s added to many nasal sprays. Chamomile tea is also a good choice when you’re sick and want to beat a cold, the flu or sinus infection. Studies indicate that inhaling steam with chamomile extract is helpful in common cold symptoms. Some people even gargle chamomile tea or extract to fight inflammation of the mucous membranes and within the mouth and throat.
7. Promotes Skin Health
Suffering from breakouts or dry, irritated, aged, red skin? Try using chamomile oil mixed into lotion. Chamomile promotes smooth, healthy skin and relieves irritations thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Chamomile’s flavonoids and essential oils penetrate below the skin surface into the deeper skin layers of the skin, preserving its youthful appearance, completion and immune defenses. As a traditional medicine, it’s been used for centuries to treat wounds, ulcers, eczema, gout, skin irritations, bruises, burns and canker sores.
Today, we know chamomile benefits and uses go even further — it’s also useful for getting rid of signs of aging like dark spots and fine lines, reducing dandruff naturally, treating chickenpox quickly, and fading scars. Additionally, it makes a great natural diaper rash treatment and can even be used around the eyes to fight infections and sties.
8. Keeps Gum and Teeth Healthy
In addition to healing skin and the respiratory tract, chamomile benefits include the ability to fight various bacterial infections of the oral cavity, teeth and gums. Chamomile benefits help reduce pain associated with cancer sores, wounds and toothaches, plus they fight harmful bacteria that can live within the mouth.
9. May Improve Heart Health
Recently, chamomile has been associated with providing cardiovascular protection. Because of its high level of flavonoids, chamomile consumed in foods is linked with a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease in elderly men. One study published in The Lancet assessed the flavonoid intake of 805 men aged 65–84 years and found that higher flavonoid intake from foods and herbs was significantly inversely associated with mortality from coronary heart disease. (8)
History of Chamomile
The chamomile plant is native to Western Europe and Northern Africa, but these days it’s grown all around the world in different temperate regions. The main exporters of chamomile today are Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Poland and Germany. German chamomile is most widely available for medicinal uses and biologically is different from the Roman and English types of chamomile. The benefits are similar, but the different types have slightly different tastes.
Records show that chamomile benefits have been recognized for at least 2,000 years, having been used both medicinally and cosmetically. Germans have used chamomile to resolve digestive issues since at least the first century, and records show that Egyptians worshipped the plant and dedicated festivals to its healing properties. Egyptian noblewomen were known to crush chamomile flowers and apply them to their skin to preserve their youthful glow and naturally slow signs of aging.
Chamomile was first cultivated in large quantities to be sold around the 16th century. Some sources show the Romans were the first to cultivate chamomile on a large level, while others give credit to botanists from Great Britain. Romans used chamomile to flavor drinks and in incense, as well as a medicinal herb to fight disease and promote longevity. Its healing qualities spread throughout Europe and eventually the British brought chamomile plants to North America.
Doctors throughout Europe and in the early settlements of America included chamomile in their medicinal bags because it cures pain, inflammation, allergies and digestive issues completely naturally and without side effects. People also used it as a natural deodorant, shampoo and perfume.