(Naturalhealth365) Chamomile tea has long been recognized as a “tried-and-true” natural method for treating insomnia and promoting restful sleep. Unlike pharmaceutical medications such as Xanax and Valium, this soothing beverage is non-addictive, and virtually free of unwanted side effects – among the many chamomile tea benefits valued by natural medicine experts.
But, when it comes to its therapeutic powers, chamomile tea is no “one-trick pony.” New research is identifying chamomile’s impressive lineup of potent bioactive phytochemicals and showcasing its ability to treat an amazing range of illnesses.
Let’s take a closer look at the many more chamomile tea benefits you can enjoy!
Chamomile tea equals the effectiveness of commercial heartburn preparations
Along with its mild sedative qualities, German chamomile – botanically known as Matricaria recucita – is a gentle anti-spasmodic agent that can relax the muscles of the intestines, making it especially useful for dispelling gas and easing stomach cramps.
Integrative healthcare providers currently use chamomile to treat gastrointestinal health issues such as acid reflux, indigestion, diarrhea, flatulence, motion sickness, morning sickness, nausea and vomiting.
And, modern research supports the ability of chamomile to treat and prevent digestive disorders.
In one clinical study, a mixture of chamomile flowers and other herbs reduced stomach acid output and decreased inflammatory leukotrienes – demonstrating chamomile’s ability to protect against the development of gastric ulcers.
(In fact, researchers noted that the chamomile mixture lowered gastric acidity as effectively as a commercial antacid!)
Other studies have shown that chamomile extracts inhibit H. pylori, the bacteria that contribute to stomach ulcers. And, chamomile tea can also help to safely reduce the duration and severity of diarrhea and colic in infants and children.
In one clinical trial, a mix of chamomile tea and other herbs – given after every bout of colic – eliminated the colic in 57 percent of the infants, with no adverse effects.
Chamomile tea fights depression and anxiety
Chamomile tea is impressing researchers with its ability to safely reduce anxiety, lift depression and elevate mood.
In a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, people with mild to moderate depression and anxiety were given 220 mg a day of a chamomile extract for eight weeks. Using well-established universal measurements, such as the Beck Anxiety Inventory System and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating, the team found that a majority of the group (57 percent) experienced significant reduction of symptoms.
One very encouraging finding from the study – which was published in the well-respected journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine – was that chamomile’s therapeutic effects actually increased over time – although the dosage did not. (With some pharmaceutical drugs, tolerance develops – necessitating ever-increasing dosages to bring about the initial result. But, chamomile seems to display the opposite effect).
Scientists believe that a flavonoid called apigenin – which binds to the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain – may be responsible for chamomile’s anxiety-reducing and antidepressant effects.
Polyphenols in chamomile may help to combat cancer
Chamomile’s volatile oil contains a host of strongly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, including 28 different terpenoids and 36 different flavonoids, such as quercetin, apigenin and luteolin.
Not only does chamomile reduce inflammation and oxidative stress that can trigger many chronic degenerative diseases – including cancer – but its apigenin can inhibit cancerous tumor growth.
In an animal study published in the journal of the Federation of American Society of Experimental Biology, researchers credited apigenin with “remarkable” anti-proliferative effects against various malignant cell lines.
The team reported that apigenin caused significant inhibition of the volume of prostate cancer tumors in mice, reducing their size by up to 53 percent. The flavonoid also caused apoptosis – or programmed cell death – in implanted tumor cells.
Although more study is needed, chamomile tea extracts have shown encouraging results for the treatment of cancers of the prostate, skin, thyroid, and stomach.
Chamomile Is anti-diabetic, antibacterial plus much more
According to a recent review published in Molecular Medicine Reports, chamomile extracts may help control – or even prevent – diabetes.
The authors cited a study in which chamomile extracts acted against diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and increasing liver glycogen storage. The chamomile extracts also had a protective effect on pancreatic beta cells – which they achieved by diminishing oxidative stress that accompanies high blood sugar.
Although more study is needed, these results are highly promising.
Chamomile tea also has antibacterial effects that make it effective at combating bacterial infections of the mouth, teeth and gums. And, its powerful anti-inflammatory effects mean that it can reduce pain from toothaches and canker sores.
To access chamomile’s soothing and cleansing properties, simply gargle briefly with cooled chamomile tea.
Chamomile can also be used to treat skin problems such as wounds, minor burns, eczema and diaper rash. In one double-blind clinical trial, chamomile facilitated wound healing – and several studies suggest that it may even be superior to corticosteroids.
(Tip: natural health experts recommend combining chamomile essential oil with coconut oil and swabbing gently on sunburned skin to relieve swelling and pain).
And there’s more!
Placing a warm, used chamomile teabag over the eyes can reduce redness, puffiness and eyestrain, while headaches can be relieved by placing several drops of chamomile essential oil above the upper lip in order to inhale it. (Note: do not ingest chamomile oil).
In addition to all of that, research supports chamomile’s ability to help prevent bone loss in osteoporosis, boost the immune system and bolster resistance to colds and infections – all in all, quite a list of accomplishments.
Chamomile comes in many forms: Inexpensive, safe and widely available
Powdered chamomile is available in capsules, with natural health experts advising a formulation standardized to 1.2 percent apigenin. Chamomile extracts are also sold as a tincture, and in lotions and oils for external use.
But the most soothing way to access chamomile’s benefits is in a cup of tea.
To make chamomile tea, simply pour one cup of boiling water over 2 to 3 heaping teaspoons of dried organic chamomile leaves. Allow the mixture to steep for 10 to 15 minutes, and drink when cool.
As with any new herb or supplement, consult your integrative doctor before trying chamomile. (Note: If you are allergic to any members of the aster family, don’t use chamomile).
Chamomile is not only a time-honored, trusty remedy for minor irritations and complaints – it also shows exciting potential as a weapon against the most serious chronic diseases of our time.