Chamomile Benefits: Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory
Chamomile is an herb that people have used for centuries. People in the United States probably know it as tea to calm an upset stomach or to help with sleep. Two types of chamomile are used for good health: German chamomile (Matricaria retutica) and Roman (or English) chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).
German chamomile is used and studied the most. A German governmental organization (Commission E) has approved its use on the skin to reduce swelling and fight bacteria and as a tea or dietary supplement for stomach cramps. You can buy chamomile as dried flower heads, an infusion (tea), liquid extract, tinctures (concentrated in alcohol), and in creams and ointments.
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.
These compounds lower inflammation by fighting free radical damage and 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. 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.
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.