Chamomile has been used medicinally for thousands of years and is widely used in Europe. It is a popular treatment for numerous ailments, including sleep disorders, anxiety, digestion/intestinal conditions, skin infections/inflammation (including eczema), wound healing, infantile colic, teething pains, and diaper rash. In the United States, chamomile is best known as an ingredient in herbal tea preparations advertised for mild sedating effects.
German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) are the two major types of chamomile used for health conditions. They are believed to have similar effects on the body, although German chamomile may be slightly stronger. Most research has used German chamomile, which is more commonly used everywhere except for England, where Roman chamomile is more common.
Although chamomile is widely used, there is not enough reliable research in humans to support its use for any condition. Despite its reputation as a gentle medicinal plant, there are many reports of allergic reactions in people after eating or coming into contact with chamomile preparations, including life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Anthemis arvensis, Anthemis cotula, Anthemis nobile, Anthemis nobilis, Anthemis xylopoda, apigenin, Asteraceae/Compositae (family), baboonig, babuna, babunah, babunah camomile, babunj, bunga kamil, camamila, camamilla, camomile, camomile sauvage, camomilla, Camomille Allemande, Campomilla, chamaemeloside, Chamaemelum nobile L., chamomile flowers, Chamomilla, Chamomilla recutita, chamomillae ramane flos, chamomille commune, classic chamomile, common chamomile, double chamomile, Echte Kamille (Dutch), English chamomile, feldkamille (German), fleur de chamomile (French), fleurs de petite camomille (French), Flores Anthemidis, flos chamomillae, garden chamomile, German chamomile, Grosse Kamille, Grote Kamille, ground apple, Hungarian chamomile, Kamille, Kamillen, kamitsure, kamiture, Kleine, kleme kamille, lawn chamomile, low chamomile, manzanilla, manzanilla chiquita, manzilla comun, manzanilla dulce, matricaire, Matricaria chamomilla, Matricaria maritime (L.), Matricaria recutita, Matricaria suaveolens, matricariae flos, matricariae flowers, may-then, Nervine, pin heads, rauschert, Romaine, romaine manzanilla, Roman chamomile, Romische Kamille, single chamomile, STW 5 (containing Iberis, peppermint, chamomile), sweet chamomile, sweet false chamomile, sweet feverfew, true chamomile, whig-plant, wild chamomile.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Chamomile is not well-known for its cardiac effects, and there is little research in this area. Large, well-designed randomized controlled trials are needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
In early study, inhaling steam with chamomile extract has been reported to help common cold symptoms. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Diarrhea in children
Preliminary study reports that chamomile with apple pectin may reduce the length of time that children experience diarrhea. Further research is needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
The German Commission E authorizes the use of topical chamomile for diseases of the skin. However, little research has been done on topical chamomile for eczema and further research is needed.
Chamomile is used traditionally for numerous gastrointestinal conditions, including digestion disorders, "spasm" or colic, upset stomach, flatulence (gas), ulcers, and gastrointestinal irritation. However, currently there is a lack of reliable human research available in any of these areas. Additional study is needed.
Hemorrhagic cystitis (bladder irritation with bleeding)
Preliminary study reports that the combination of chamomile baths plus chamomile bladder washes and antibiotics is superior to antibiotics alone for hemorrhagic cystitis. Additional research is necessary before a conclusion can be reached.
Preliminary study reports that chamomile ointment may improve hemorrhoids. Better evidence is needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Chamomile is reputed to have anti-spasmodic activity, but there is little research to substantiate this claim. Additional research evaluating chamomile alone is needed.
Mucositis from cancer treatment (mouth ulcers/irritation)
Poor-quality studies have used chamomile mouthwash for the prevention or treatment of mouth mucositis caused by radiation therapy or cancer chemotherapy. Results are conflicting, and it remains unclear if chamomile is helpful in this situation.
Quality of life in cancer patients
A small amount of research suggests that massage using chamomile essential oil may improve anxiety and quality of life in cancer patients. However, this evidence is not high quality. Additional study is needed before a firm conclusion can be reached.
Topical chamomile preparations have traditionally been used to soothe skin inflammation. The existing human evidence shows that chamomile may be of little, if any, benefit while animal studies support its anti-inflammatory action. Additional human research is needed in this area.
Sleep aid / sedation
Traditionally, chamomile preparations, such as tea and essential oil aromatherapy, have been used for insomnia and sedation (calming effects). Better research is needed before a recommendation can be made.
Vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina)
Vaginitis may involve itching, discharge, or pain with urination. Chamomile douche may improve symptoms of vaginitis with few side effects. Because infection (including sexually transmitted diseases), poor hygiene, or nutritional deficiencies can cause vaginitis, medical attention should be sought by people with this condition. Better research is needed before a conclusion can be drawn regarding the role of chamomile in the management of vaginitis.
There is promising preliminary evidence supporting the topical use of chamomile for wound healing. However, the available literature is not adequate to support a recommendation either for or against this use.
Post-operative sore throat/hoarseness due to intubation
Chamomile spray has not been found to prevent post-operative sore throat and hoarseness any more than normal saline.