Latin Names – Matricaria recutita, Chamomilla recutita
Chamomile has been widely used as an herbal remedy for thousands of years. The flowering tops of the chamomile plant are used to make teas, liquid extracts, capsules, and tablets. The herb is also applied to the skin as a cream or an ointment, or used as a mouth rinse. Of the numerous types of chamomile, the German variety is more commonly used as an herbal remedy in the United States and is the focus here.
Chamomile has been used as an herbal remedy in the hope of improving sleeplessness, anxiety, and gastrointestinal conditions such as upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea.
Chamomile has not been well studied in people so there is little evidence to support its use for any condition. Some early studies point to chamomile’s possible benefits for mouth ulcers and certain skin conditions.
Side Effects and Cautions Summary
- There are reports of allergic reactions in people who have eaten or come into contact with chamomile products. Reactions include skin rashes, throat swelling, shortness of breath, and anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction).
- People are more likely to experience allergic reactions to chamomile if they are allergic to related plants in the daisy family, which includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health to help ensure coordinated and safe care. Complementary or alternative therapy should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking that care.
- German chamomile. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on May 15, 2007.
- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita, Chamaemelum nobile). Natural Standard Database Web site.Accessed on May 16, 2007.
- Chamomile flower, German. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:57–61.
For More Information
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse
The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on CAM and NCCAM, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Web site: ods.od.nih.gov
NIH National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Chamomile Listing: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-chamomile.html
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Chamomile fact sheet Created August 2007, Updated April 2008