Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • January 2010
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Chamomile — Matricaria recutita, Chamomilla recutita

Two types of chamomile have been used for health conditions: German chamomile and Roman chamomile. While the two kinds are thought to have similar effects on the body, the German variety is more commonly used in the United States and is the focus of this fact sheet.

Chamomile has been widely used in children and adults for thousands of years for a variety of health conditions. Today, chamomile is used as a folk or traditional remedy for sleeplessness, anxiety and gastrointestinal conditions such as upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea. It is also used topically for skin conditions and for mouth ulcers resulting from cancer treatment.

The flowering tops of the chamomile plant are used to make teas, liquid extracts, capsules or tablets. The herb can also be applied to the skin as a cream or an ointment, or used as a mouth rinse.

What the science says

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 certain skin conditions and for mouth ulcers caused by chemotherapy or radiation.

In combination with other herbs, chamomile may be of some benefit for upset stomach, for diarrhea in children and for infants with colic.

NCCIH-funded research includes studies of chamomile for generalized anxiety disorder and abdominal pain caused by children’s bowel disorders.

Side effects and cautions

Note: There are reports of allergic reactions in people who have eaten or come into contact with chamomile products. Reactions can 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 include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds and daisies.

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help to ensure coordinated and safe care.

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