Who has not ever taken a chamomile? The chamomile or chamomile infusions They are one of the most popular that exist. This medicinal plant, aromatic and slightly bitter, has numerous beneficial health properties that have been known for thousands of years. The Egyptians considered it a drink worthy of offering it to the god Ra. For the Germans it was one of the 9 sacred herbs that Odin offered humanity to protect it from evil and disease, and there is evidence of its use throughout Europe, Asia and South Africa.
- 1 What is chamomile
- 2 Benefits of chamomile
- 3 Possible side effects of chamomile
What is chamomile
Camomile, which means “ground apple”, Is the common name of several species of plants of the daisy family. But only two are used for medicinal purposes: German chamomile (Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman chamomile (Anthemis or Chamaemelum nobile). They are native to Western Europe, North Africa and certain parts of Asia.
This plant is highly prized for the antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties of its flavonoids, and has been consumed for centuries as a natural remedy for numerous ailments. In Egypt it was used to treat malaria, in Rome as a remedy for urinary infections and headache, in South Africa it was consumed for fight insomnia, rheumatism and sore throat, among others, but when it became more popular it was during the Middle Ages in Europe, being used as diuretic, relaxing, digestive tonic and to relieve abdominal pain.
In addition, chamomile has antioxidants that help reduce the risk of various diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
Here is a complete list of the main benefits of chamomile for health.
1. Relieves stress and anxiety
One of the most popular uses of chamomile is the treatment of stress and anxiety. This plant has the property of reduce the intensity of anxious signs, appease mental stress and improve depression, especially used in aromatherapy or taken as an infusion as a complement to other treatments.
2. Help you sleep better
Chamomile has some unique properties that can benefit the quality of sleep. This is because it contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain brain receptors promoting sleepiness and reducing insomnia or chronic inability to sleep.
In a study conducted with women after childbirth, a group of them took chamomile infusions for two weeks while others did not, the former reported having a better quality of sleep compared to the group that did not take the infusion. They also had less symptoms of depression, which is often related to sleeping problems.
Another study found that people who consumed 270 mg of chamomile extract twice a day for 28 days had 1/3 less than nighttime awakenings and they slept 15 minutes faster than those that did not consume the extract.
These findings are promising, although more studies are needed to determine the extent of the effects of chamomile on sleep. However, taking a delicious infusion before going to bed is definitely worth it if you have trouble sleeping.
3. Relieves menstrual pain
Their antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties They make this infusion a very popular option for women who suffer the symptoms of menstruation such as swelling, cramps, anxiety, sweating, inability to sleep and mood swings.
It may interest you: What is PMS premenstrual syndrome
4. Improves digestive health
Due to the properties mentioned in the previous point, chamomile is also very effective in the treatment of stomach and intestinal cramps. Regular consumption of this plant can help reduce problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, muscle spasms, gas and gastroenteritis.
Some studies have found that chamomile extract has the potential to protect against diarrhea in mice. This is attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Another study in rats showed that chamomile is useful for preventing stomach ulcers, as it can reduce acidity in the stomach and inhibit the growth of bacteria that contribute to the development of the ulcer.
5. Protects against certain types of cancer
The antioxidants found in chamomile have been linked to a lower incidence of certain types of cancer.
It has been shown in test tube studies that the antioxidant apigenin Chamomile has the potential to fight cancer cells, especially those of the breast, digestive tract, skin, prostate and uterus.
In addition, in a study with 537 people it was observed that those who took chamomile infusions 2-6 times per week were significantly less likely to develop thyroid cancer than those who did not drink this liquid.
These findings are promising, but as in other cases, more human research is needed to get to know the true role of chamomile in cancer prevention.
6. Help control blood sugar
Taking chamomile infusions can help reduce blood sugar levels. Their anti-inflammatory properties can prevent damage to pancreatic cells which appears when sugar levels are chronically elevated. And the health of the pancreas is extremely important, since it is responsible for producing insulin, the hormone responsible for eliminating sugar from the blood.
In a study of 64 diabetic people, those who consumed chamomile daily with meals for eight weeks had significantly lower blood sugar levels than those who only consumed water.
In addition, several animal studies suggest that chamomile can reduce fasting sugar levels by a considerable amount, and may also be beneficial in preventing blood sugar spikes after eating.
Most results on blood sugar control are based on the results of animal studies. However, the findings are promising.
7. Improves skin condition
Due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich nature of chamomile tea, this plant is not used exclusively as a drink. Topical application of chamomile tea cures irritations or skin conditions such as eczema. It can also significantly improve healing and reduce the appearance of imperfections and wrinkles on the face, as it has the potential to eliminate oxidative stress and increase the immune response of our skin.
8. Improves heart health
Chamomile extract is abundant in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Flavonoids have been studied for their great potential to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are important markers in the risk of heart disease.
In the aforementioned study conducted with 64 diabetic patients, it was discovered that those who took chamomile at meals also had notable improvements in their total cholesterol level, such as triglycerides and LDL, compared to those who drank only water.
9. Improves the immune system
The phenolic compounds present in chamomile help strengthen the immune system and prevent infections. The other compounds present in this plant seem to help fight cold, flu and relieve sinus congestion.
10. Treat allergic reactions
Chamomile infusions can help modulate the immune response to allergens in the body. To the function as an antihistamine, you can calm these allergic reactions throughout the body.
11. Prevents osteoporosis
Chamomile extract helps stimulate osteoblast activity, the cells that form the bones. Therefore, this plant can help increase bone density and ultimately help us stay away from osteoporosis.
12. Improves oral health
Chamomile infusions have the ability to fight oral bacterial infections, prevent tooth decay and protect teeth and gums. In addition, its anti-inflammatory properties help calm toothaches.
13. Relieves hemorrhoids
In addition to providing a calming effect, chamomile also helps treat hemorrhoids and their discomfort. The chamomile ointment can help relieve hemorrhoids.
Possible side effects of chamomile
But like everything else, this plant also presents some contraindication. In the following list we present its main side effects:
- Allergies: Many people are allergic to ragweed, so regular use of chamomile, particularly in topical applications, can make symptoms worse. Those who suffer from dermatitis, hay fever and frequent hives are advised to consult their doctor before adding this plant in their diet.
- Spontaneous abortion: Caution is recommended for pregnant women as chamomile tea may increase the risk of miscarriage.
- Drowsiness: excessive consumption of this plant may have a sedative effect. It can also cause vomiting and nausea.
- Eye irritation: Topical use of cosmetics containing chamomile can cause conjunctivitis or eye irritation on direct contact.
- Pollen Pollution: Chamomile can sometimes be contaminated with pollen from other plants, and in some cases it can cause reactions or allergies.