Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is often consumed as a tea, and is notorious for its relaxing and soothing qualities. But what many may be unaware of, is that this popular beverage also offers a variety of health benefits. Chamomile is an herb that comes from the daisy-like flowers of the Asteraceae plant family. It has been consumed for centuries as a natural remedy for several health conditions. Chamomile tea is loaded with antioxidants that may play a role in lowering the risk of several diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Chamomile also has properties that aid in sleep and digestion, as well.
Chamomile contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in the brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia, or the chronic inability to sleep. In one study, postpartum women who drank chamomile tea for two weeks reported better sleep quality compared to a group that did not drink chamomile tea. They also had fewer symptoms of depression, which is often linked with sleeping problems. Another study found that people who consumed 270 mg of chamomile extract twice daily for 28 days had one third less night time awakening and fell asleep 15 minutes faster than those who did not consume the extract.
Other studies on chamomile suggests that is effective for promoting better digestion by reducing the risk of certain gastrointestinal conditions, and traditionally, it has been used to treat several digestive ailments, including nausea and gas. A few 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 found chamomile to be helpful in preventing stomach ulcers, as it may reduce acidity in the stomach and inhibit the growth of bacteria that contribute to ulcer development.
Another great benefit of chamomile tea is that the antioxidants in it have been linked with a lower incidence of certain types of cancer. Chamomile contains the antioxidant apigenin. In test-tube studies, apigenin has been shown to fight cancer cells, especially those of the breast, digestive tract, skin, prostate and uterus. Additionally, one study of 537 people observed that those who drank chamomile tea 2–6 times per week were significantly less likely to develop thyroid cancer than those who did not drink chamomile tea.
Consumption of chamomile may also aid in lowering blood sugar levels. Its anti-inflammatory properties may prevent damage to the cells of your pancreas, which occurs when your blood sugar levels are chronically elevated. The health of the pancreas is extremely important, as it produces insulin, the hormone responsible for removing sugar from the blood. In one study of 64 diabetic people, those who consumed chamomile tea daily with meals for eight weeks had significantly lower average blood sugar levels than those who consumed water. Furthermore, several animal studies suggest that chamomile tea may lower fasting blood sugar levels by a considerable amount, and it may also be beneficial for preventing blood sugar spikes after eating.
Chamomile tea is also abundant in flavones, a class of antioxidants. Flavones have been studied for their potential to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are important markers of heart disease risk. One study of 64 diabetic patients found that those who drank chamomile tea with meals had noteworthy improvements in their total cholesterol, triglyceride and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, compared to those who drank water.Chamomile has proven itself to be an incredibly healthy herb. It is rich in powerful antioxidants that have a variety of health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease. It has been used traditionally for centuries as a medicinal tea, and modern science is confirming its fantastic health benefits. Seeing all that this great herb has to offer, it is certainly one worth including in your diet.