Updated: Jul 16
Chamomile is a popular herb, enjoyed by many as a delicious herbal tea and consumed by natural health advocates for its reported health benefits. The use of chamomile as a traditional herbal remedy for digestive complaints, stress, and women's related health issues dates back centuries. These days, people want to know if there's evidence to support the claims and validate the traditional herbal use.
According to the researchers of a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 2009 - there is evidence. They looked at the antidepressant activity of chamomile and reported that participants who received chamomile, improved more than those who received the placebo. They concluded that "chamomile may provide antidepressant activity in anxious, depressed humans" whilst acknowledging "its previously observed anxiolytic activity" (1).
A more recent study in 2016 with postnatal women, recommended chamomile tea as a useful supplemental approach after they discovered the participants drinking the tea for only two weeks, had fewer symptoms of depression than those who didn't drink the tea. They also noted the positive effects had worn off within two weeks of stopping the chamomile tea (2). So, for this ancient herbal remedy, there is some scientific research to support its use.
Is it safe?
There are many interventions for anxiety and depression, both conventional and complementary. Chamomile on its own is highly unlikely to fully resolve either condition. However, it may form part of a useful strategy that could be combined with other approaches to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and low mood. This gentle herb is 'Generally Recognised As Safe (GRAS). However, it should be avoided if you have an allergy to the daisy family plants, also known as Asteraceae or Compositae.
So, here we have some evidence to support the claims based on traditional uses.
Why not discuss this with your own health care professional and see if this could help you? Or, just enjoy a cup of chamomile tea simply for the taste. If possible, why not try growing your own chamomile? Gardening is also therapeutic! But, we'll cover that in more detail another day.
Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. You are encouraged to make your own health care decisions based upon your own research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.
Amsterdam JD, Shults J. Soeller I, Mao JJ, Rockwell K, Newberg AB. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may provide antidepressant activity in anxious, depressed humans: an exploratory study. Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Sept-Oct;18(5):44-9. PMD:22894890; PMCID: PMC3600408.
Chang SM, Chen CH. Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women: a randomized controlled trial. JAdv Nurs. 2016;72(2):306-15. doi: 10.1111/jan.12836.fewer