As an avid tea drinker and aspiring health nut, I can't help but feel a bit surprised at how little information is available regarding chamomile tea benefits, uses, and side effects. As consumables go, very few tea options on the market, chamomile included, carry such an alarmingly high benefit to risk ratio. Put more clearly, although there is always the possibility of a person having an unlikely allergic reaction (i.e., if you're allergic to ragweed), the benefits of chamomile tea far outweigh the risk. As a moderate anti-oxidant, chamomile not only fortifies the immune system, but also promotes relaxation, healthy digestion, and soothes nausea. When applied topically, it acts as an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, making it an effective treatment for bruises, cuts, scrapes, and burns.
It's safe to say one of chamomile's most popular uses is its tendency to promote sleep and relaxation. Unlike many other tea variants, it's naturally devoid of caffeine, making it ideal before bed. For this reason, it's developed a reputation for being an effective home treatment for insomnia and anxiety, to the extent that you may consider trying it before getting a prescription for Ambien, Lunesta, or other barbiturate. Though these are effective temporary solutions, they're also widely known for their habit forming tendencies. Chamomile bear no such stigma, as its mild sedative properties are due to a naturally occurring anti-spasmodic (or muscle relaxant) that has long marked this herb's usefulness for anyone suffering from tension, stress, and sleeplessness. As a tea, and therefore a diuretic, it's ill advised to have more than a couple cups of chamomile before bed, as subsequent trips to the bathroom tend to be an incredibly effective way to interrupt sound sleep.
Gastrointestinal distress, nausea treatment
Over the ages, chamomile has also developed a notable reputation for effectively treating an upset stomach, nausea, cramping and bloating (though I'm hardly an expert on this front), and vomiting. Combined with peppermint, papaya root, and/or licorice root, the effect is actually compounded. Incidentally, this is the same herb Peter Rabbit's mother gave to Peter Rabbit when he ate too much from Farmer MacGregor's garden. Chamomile's ability to relieve nausea goes hand in hand with its ability to act as a anti-spasmodic. By relaxing the intestinal walls, the pressure most likely causing nausea decreases, allowing your digestive tract to return to normal, efficient functionality.
Due in part to its role as a diuretic, as well as a muscle relaxing agent, chamomile is also effective at improving digestion. Consumed after or during a meal, it's been found to ensure that food is properly and effectively digested. It's abilities to aid as a mild laxative are again attributable to its function as an anti-spasmodic.
Other chamomile benefits and uses
-Although less commonly today, what with the advances made in modern medicine, chamomile was long used to expel tapeworms and other parasites from the intestinal tract.
-Following chemotherapy, chamomile is still used in cancer patients in Europe to treat mucositis (ulceration of mucous membranes in the digestive system).
-Chamomile essential has shown to be an effective anti-viral against HSV Simplex II, but so far, only in vitro.
-When applied as a salve, it acts as an effective anti-histamine, relieving dryness and itchiness.
Chamomile Side Effects
The most likely side effect to drinking chamomile is the risk of allergic reaction. Anyone with an allergy to plants in the ragweed family should consider the risk involved, as it has been reported to cause anaphylaxis in a small handful of extreme cases.
Second to allergic reaction would be over-consumption. Excessive amounts of chamomile tea can lead to vomiting, which is an interesting caveat to an herb well known for its ability to treat nausea.
While chamomile tea benefits and uses outweigh the few risks, keep it in mind that if ever you have concerns as to how it may effect you, it's best to consult licensed health professional. This article is in no way meant to act as a substitute for actual medical advice. On the other hand, if your health professional is offering an alternative that may have more questionable side effects than tea, I'd just as soon take my chances with tea.