Looks at chamomile, an herb used as an alternative medicine treatment for upset stomach, sleep problems, or skin problems. Covers German (Matricaria retutica) and Roman (or English) chamomile. Looks at safety and side effects.
What is chamomile?
an herb that people have used for centuries. People in the United States
probably know it as tea to calm an upset stomach or to help with sleep. Two
types of chamomile are used for good health: German chamomile (Matricaria retutica) and Roman (or English) chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).
German chamomile is used
and studied the most. A German governmental organization (Commission E) has
approved its use on the skin to reduce swelling and fight bacteria and as a tea
or dietary supplement for stomach cramps.
You can buy chamomile as
dried flower heads, an infusion (tea), liquid extract, tinctures (concentrated
in alcohol), and in creams and ointments.
What is chamomile used for?
People use German chamomile to treat
irritation from chest colds, slow-healing wounds,
abscesses, gum inflammation,
and skin conditions such as
diaper rash. For these conditions, you use chamomile
in an infusion or bath, or as a tincture, which is a concentrated extract mixed
with alcohol. People use Roman chamomile as a tea to treat an upset stomach,
sleeping problems, or menstrual pain.
Limited studies have been
done on chamomile.
Is chamomile safe?
The pollen found in chamomile preparations may cause
allergic reactions. If you are allergic to ragweed pollen, you may not be able
to use chamomile. Chamomile may interfere with blood thinners (anticoagulants).
The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way it
regulates medicine. A dietary supplement can be sold with limited or no
research on how well it works.
Always tell your doctor if you are
using a dietary supplement or if you are thinking about combining a dietary
supplement with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to
forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on a dietary
supplement. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or
When using dietary supplements, keep in mind the
Like conventional medicines, dietary
supplements may cause side effects, trigger allergic reactions, or interact
with prescription and nonprescription medicines or other supplements you might
be taking. A side effect or interaction with another medicine or supplement may
make other health conditions worse.
The way dietary supplements are
manufactured may not be standardized. Because of this, how well they work or
any side effects they cause may differ among brands or even within different
lots of the same brand. The form of supplement that you buy in health food or
grocery stores may not be the same as the form used in research.
Other than for vitamins and minerals, the long-term effects of
most dietary supplements are not known.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.