Chamomile tea is refreshing and popular – between 750,000 and one million pounds are imported into the US each year. As well as being a hot drink favorite, this sweet tea might also be good for our health and wellbeing.
We know it’s popular, but what does chamomile tea do? There is a lot of interest in what it contains, health and wellbeing-related benefits and how to drink chamomile tea. We’ll be exploring all that here. First, let’s look at where this intriguing flower comes from.
What is Chamomile?
Chamomile is a plant with pretty, daisy-like flowers. It is part of the Asteraceae family, also home to sunflowers and marigolds. Its full name is Matricaria chamomilla. Chamomile can be found growing on almost every continent, but it’s Germany that produces the most flowers when they bloom in the summer months.
The flowers have been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years, at least as far back as Egyptian times. As with many teas, the flower itself was used in medicine and cosmetics before it became popular as a tea. Because of its sweet smell and flavor, the Romans added chamomile to other drinks and in medieval times it was used to scent rooms for events.
As a flower not from the Camellia sinensis plant, chamomile cannot produce what is known as a “true tea”. Technically, all other drinks made with plants and water are herbal infusions called tisanes. However, in general, it’s easier to call all varieties of our favorite hot drink, “tea”.
This versatile flower has had many uses over the centuries. Now let’s look at some specific chamomile tea effects.
Health Benefits of Chamomile Tea
As an age-old, natural supplement, there has been much interest in and hope for the benefits of chamomile tea for health. Let’s jump into the findings and understand what it is about this flower that’s believed to be so good for us.
Much of our health is linked to cell damage, and some of the agents protecting against this are antioxidants. The great news is that chamomile is packed with them, contained in plant substances called flavonoids. Many of the health benefits of chamomile tea come from these antioxidants.
These super-substances act to increase heart health by lowering blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol. In a review of 20 studies, flavonoids were found to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Similarly, research on 64 diabetic participants found “noteworthy improvements” to cholesterol levels when drinking chamomile tea with meals.
One of the main roles of antioxidants, and so hopefully one of the benefits of chamomile tea, is in fighting free radicals, the agents of cell damage which can be the cause of some cancers. Apigenin, contained within chamomile, tackles various types of the disease, with thyroid cancer seeing a significant fall in likelihood with regular chamomile tea drinking.
Like many teas, chamomile contains anti-inflammatory substances. Reducing inflammation can help with a range of conditions, as well as improving overall health and wellbeing. Some studies have looked into how chamomile tea effects:
- Nausea and gas
- Stomach ulcers
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Period pain
One of these anti-inflammatory substances is called chamazulene. It is a compound which also has pain-relieving and antispasmodic properties for help in aiding the above conditions. Other chemicals found in chamomile are sesquiterpenes, which are antiseptic and antibacterial.
Looking into the benefits of chamomile tea for anxiety, some research has found that it increases the production of serotonin and melatonin – the chemicals involved in mood control. A 2012 study over 8 weeks into chamomile extract saw a 50% reduction in anxiety symptoms.
A particular piece of research also saw a reduction in symptoms of postpartum depression in those taking chamomile for two weeks.
Closely related to worrying and low mood is sleep. A lack of or poor quality sleep can greatly affect our state of mind and worsen symptoms of anxiety and other health conditions. As well as being a relaxing, stimulant-free drink, there has been specific research into chamomile tea’s effect on sleep.
Chamomile’s secret weapon, apigenin, has also been found to bind to certain receptors in the brain. This may inhibit activity and so help to bring on sleep. Participants taking 270mg of chamomile twice a day found that they fell asleep faster and had a third reduction in their night-time waking.
Apart from these potential chemical benefits of chamomile tea, having a warm cup before bed is also habit-forming. Positive, calming routines, and rituals are helpers on the path to a good night’s sleep.
When it comes to general stress and anxiety reduction, chamomile tea is soothing, calming, and caffeine-free. Having a warm cup before These elements can all help you to relax and to ease symptoms.
Looking into the health benefits of chamomile tea, it’s worth noting that much of the research is based on taking chamomile extract and small, animal studies. However, the results are encouraging. Let’s hope we see an increase in the positive nature of chamomile tea effects.
Chamomile tea and weight loss
As with many teas and infusions and their potential health benefits, chamomile tea has also been linked to weight loss. Let’s look into whether this flowery tea favorite can help us drop some pounds.
Unlike research into its nutrients and antioxidants, there isn’t any conclusive proof supporting chamomile tea weight loss. However, the many wellbeing effects we’ve explored could help in the following ways as part of a healthy lifestyle.
As some of its compounds are mild diuretics, drinking chamomile tea could contribute to reduced bloating and water retention.
We’ve seen that chamomile may help tackle symptoms of low mood and anxiety. This can aid weight loss as overeating is sometimes a symptom of stress. As well as the proven benefits of sleep on weight loss, less night-time waking could also mean fewer sugar cravings at night.
In the cases where there was an increase in serotonin when consuming chamomile, this is good news for dieters as this so-called “happy hormone” helps to suppress appetite. Saying goodbye to unhealthy cravings is worth raising a cup to!
There isn’t anything directly linking the benefits of chamomile tea to a magic weight-loss trick. However, when consumed safely, it can be a beneficial part of a healthy diet. Chamomile tea can certainly be part of your fat-fighting kit as an alternative to unhealthy sugary drink options.
How to Drink Chamomile Tea
We know there are potential health benefits of chamomile tea, but what’s it like to drink and how can you incorporate it into your routine?
As a tea, chamomile has a light, refreshing flavor with fruity notes. If you find a hint of apple in the taste, you’re right on! In fact, chamomile’s English name comes from the Greek words chamai (or kamai) and mílo, meaning “ground apple”.
One of the benefits of chamomile tea is that you can make it from fresh flowers, dried flowers or a tea bag – which is just the flowers pre-packaged. When brewing from flowers, remember to remove the head from the stem.
In terms of quantities, here’s a guide if you’re not using a tea bag:
- 1 heaped teaspoon per 8oz of water for dried flowers
- 3-4 teaspoons (depending on desired strength) per 8oz of water for fresh flowers
As with many infusions, try to avoid using boiling water as this can scald the flowers and change the flavor. It may also decrease the quantity of some of the helpful nutrients and compounds. Once boiled, allow the water to cool to around 200°F.
Pour over your flowers or tea bag and leave to stand, known as “steeping” for 3–5 minutes. Again, how long you steep your tea for depends on how strong you like the flavor.
You can actually reuse the petals and tea bags a few times to make multiple cups as the flavor is quite concentrated within the flowers. The recommended amount to drink is 2–5 cups per day.
Add a slice of apple or some honey if you like it sweeter. Remember, natural additions will help you to reap all those potential health benefits of chamomile tea.
So, is Chamomile Tea Good for You?
We’ve looked at some of the research into, and possible benefits of, chamomile tea. It contains potential disease-fighting substances and can also help your health in other ways. Chamomile tea is soothing, relaxing, and a great alternative to hot drinks high in sugar and stimulants.
It’s worth pointing out that as with all chemical and nutrient-containing compounds, there are potential side effects for some people. Although the risk is minimal, pregnant women, those with severe pollen allergies and very young children should take care.
Remember that nothing should be used as a full substitute for prescribed medication. Ask a doctor if you’re concerned and start with a one or two cups of tea per day to be safe.
When asking “is chamomile tea healthy?”, in general, the answer is yes! As always, you know your health and how your body responds best, so make sure you check it out first. However, it looks like chamomile tea could make a great, relaxing, mood-boosting addition to your daily routine.
Have you come across any other benefits of chamomile tea?
Tell us what you’ve found in the comments below!