The flower of chamomile is dried and drunk as a tea, consumed as a capsule, or used topically as an extract.
(See also Overview of Dietary Supplements.)
Chamomile tea is said to reduce inflammation and fever, to act as a mild sedative, to provide antidepressant activity, to relieve stomach cramps and indigestion, and to promote healing of gastric ulcers. Chamomile extract applied topically in a compress is said to soothe irritated skin. Mechanism is due to essential oil containing bisabolol constituents and the flavonoids apigenin and luteolin.
Limited clinical trial evidence supports any use of chamomile. However, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial using oral capsules of chamomile extract (standardized to 1.2% apigenin) in patients with mild-to-moderate anxiety (1) and an open-label trial for moderate-to-severe generalized anxiety disorder (2) showed possible modest antianxiety activity. Chamomile also has antidepressant activity (3). Additionally, chamomile may improve sleep quality (4).
Chamomile is generally safe; however, hypersensitivity reactions have been reported, especially in people allergic to members of the Asteraceae (eg, sunflower, ragweed) plant family and pollen of all flowering plants. Typical symptoms include lacrimation, sneezing, gastrointestinal upset, dermatitis, and anaphylaxis.
Chamomile may reduce the absorption of oral drugs. Chamomile may also increase the effects of anticoagulants and sedatives (including barbiturates and alcohol) and decrease the absorption of iron supplements.
- Amsterdam JD, Li Y, Soeller I, et al: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol 29(4):378-382, 2009. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0b013e3181ac935c.
- Keefe JR, Mao JJ, et al: Short-term open-label chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) therapy of moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine 23(14):1699-1705, 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2016.10.013.
- Amsterdam JD, Li QS, Xie SX, et al: Putative antidepressant effect of chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) oral extract in subjects with comorbid generalized anxiety disorder and depression. J Altern Complement Med doi: 10.1089/acm.2019.0252. [Epub ahead of print]
- Hieu TH, Dibas M, Dila KAS, et al: Therapeutic efficacy and safety of chamomile for state anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, and sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials and quasi-randomized trials. Phytother Res 33:1604-1615, 2019. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6349.
The following is an English-language resource that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: General information on the use of German chamomile as a dietary supplement