Chamomile Tea: Why This Ancient Therapeutic Drink Still Stands Out Today

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Story at-a-glance

  • Chamomile has been used by ancient civilizations in various ways, but it is mostly known for its therapeutic properties. Discover what these benefits are and learn how you can easily gain them by making your own chamomile tea
  • If you’re thinking about incorporating chamomile into your diet, be sure to consult with your doctor first to rule out allergies and potential complications that may disrupt your health

The story of chamomile begins in ancient Egypt, where it was first discovered and used as a cure for fever. The Egyptians used it on their skin for cosmetic purposes, and the plant gained further prominence through its use as an embalming oil for their deceased pharaohs.1 In fact, chamomile was so ingrained into ancient Egyptian culture that their people dedicated it to the sun and worshipped it above other herbs.2

The origin of the word “chamomile” is derived from the Greek word chamomaela, which roughly translate to “ground apple” due to the plant’s comparable fragrance to the fruit.3

In the 16th century, chamomile was introduced to Britain and the rest of the new world, where it was cultivated for its medicinal properties ever since. Today, the plant is still widely grown and harvested throughout Europe, with Belgium, France, Italy and Poland being the main exporters. North America and Argentina are two other notable producers of chamomile.4

The Potential Benefits of Drinking Chamomile Tea

Chamomile contains a mixture of essential oils, vitamins and minerals that are known to provide an array of benefits. One of the easiest ways of gaining them is making tea from the flowers. History has shown that various cultures used chamomile tea to help treat various ailments.5 Here are several documented benefits of chamomile tea that may help with your health:6

Improves Cardiovascular Function

Flavonoids in plants have been long associated with a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease, as well as myocardial infarction.

As it happens, chamomile contains many flavonoids. In one study, chamomile tea helped improve brachial artery among the participants 30 minutes after drinking.

Improves Digestive Function for Babies With Colic

Chamomile tea may be helpful in reducing colic in babies, especially when combined with other herbs.

In one correlated study, infants who took chamomile tea had a success rate of 57 percent in the elimination of colic compared to those who only took a placebo, which only had a success rate of 27 percent.

Induces Sleepiness

Chamomile tea has long been known for its ability to help induce sleep, especially when taken via tea or aromatherapy.

In one study, researchers observed that 10 patients went into a deep sleep for 90 minutes after drinking chamomile tea.7

Helps Lower Risk of Cancer

Apigenin, an antioxidant found in chamomile, has been shown to fight various cancer cells (breast, digestive tract, skin, prostate and uterus) in test tube studies.8,9,10

In another study, people who drank chamomile tea two to six times a week were significantly less likely to develop thyroid cancer compared to those who didn’t drink tea.11

Helps Manage Blood Sugar Levels

According to a study published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, Type 2 diabetics who consumed chamomile tea regularly experienced decreased concentration of HbA1C, serum insulin levels, LDL cholesterol, triglyceride and homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance.12

Helps Boost Your Immune System

Drinking chamomile tea may help reduce your risk of developing infections like the common cold, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.13

More Nutrition Facts About Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is a caffeine-free, low-calorie drink, with only 2 calories per cup, so if you’re looking for a beverage that’s nutritious yet won’t add excess weight, this can be a beneficial choice for you. It’s also rich in potassium, as well as containing some elements of vitamin A, iron and sodium.14 Other important nutrients are highlighted below:15

Chamomile Tea Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup (8 oz.)
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 2.4 (10.0 kJ)  
Sodium 2.4 mg 0%
Potassium 0 g 0%
Total Carbohydrates 0.5 g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g  
Sugar 0 g  
Protein 0 g  
Fluoride 30.8 mcg
Thiamine 0.0 mg 2%
Riboflavin 0.0 mg 1%
Niacin 0.0 mg 0%
Folate 2.4 mcg 1%
Pantothenic Acid 0 mg 0%
Choline 0 mg 0%
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 0%
Vitamin E 0% Vitamin B6 0%
Vitamin K 0% Vitamin B12 0%
Calcium 4.7 mg
Magnesium 2.4 mg
Potassium 21.3 mg
Zinc 0.1 mg
Manganese 0.1 mg
Iron 0.2 mg
Phosphorus 0.0 mg
Copper 0.0 mg
Selenium 0.0 mcg

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

How to Grow and Store Chamomile for Your Own Use

The secret to making great-tasting chamomile tea is using high-quality, pesticide-free flowers, preferably from your own garden. Luckily, growing your own chamomile flowers is a relatively easy endeavor, and their beautiful appearance can significantly uplift the aesthetics of your garden.

There are two chamomile variations: Roman chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) and German chamomile (Matricaria chamomile). The former is considered the true chamomile variety, but the latter is also acceptable and used for nearly the same things. The steps for growing them are virtually identical, so you can simply choose which one you prefer for your tea.16

To begin growing chamomile, find a plot of land with full sun exposure and moderately rich organic soil that has a neutral pH range between 5.6 and 7.5. Soil quality is important because poor soil conditions can cause the stems to become floppier.17

Plant the seeds around six weeks before the last expected frost. It’s crucial that you place them on top of the soil but do not cover them with another layer, because they need light to germinate properly. Let the seeds stratify over the winter, and they should germinate within seven to 14 days. Water regularly until the plants mature while being careful not to overdo it, as the plant can withstand drought.18

Flower heads are ready for harvesting when the petals become flat or begin to fall back from the center. Snip them carefully with clippers while fully open, then allow them to dry naturally in a cabinet away from dust and sunlight. The drying process typically takes one to two weeks, and you can tell if it complete by crushing a blossom. Store in a jar afterwards.19

Making Your Own Chamomile Tea Is Easy

Chamomile tea is easy to prepare once you have your stock of dried flowers, but fresh flowers are also amenable. The other thing you only need is boiling water and you’re all set. Simply follow this easy recipe to make your homemade chamomile tea:20

Chamomile Tea

Ingredients

2 to 3 teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers

1 cup of boiling water per teaspoon of chamomile flowers

Procedure

1. Bring the water to a boil.

2. Steep for five minutes, then enjoy.

The great thing about chamomile tea is that its flavor can be customized to your liking. You can add other ingredients to expand the taste and add more nutrients, such as raw honey and mashed apple slices.21

Side Effects Associated With Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is a drink that can be enjoyed by most people, however, it may cause negative reactions, especially if you’re allergic to the Asteraceae family of plants, which includes ragweed, echinacea, sunflower, aster and chrysanthemum.22 It may also potentially cause nausea and vomiting, but only if you use high concentrations of flowers.23

Pregnant women can safely drink chamomile tea because it’s caffeine-free, which is great for babies because they cannot process this chemical as well as adults. If you’re with child, you should be fine to drink chamomile tea, but always check your doctor know first to be sure that you’re not missing out on possible adverse reactions.24

Babies 6 months and older can drink chamomile tea as well, but in very small amounts because too much of it can give them stomach problems. As mentioned before, one benefit of chamomile tea is helping reduce colic in infants, and may also help with inducing sleep and soothing teething pain. To be on the safe side, be sure to check with your doctor first before giving your baby chamomile tea.25

Avoid drinking chamomile tea if you’re taking blood thinners, anti-epileptics and sedatives. The various compounds of chamomile may amplify the effect of these medications.26,27

Almost Everyone Can Benefit From Chamomile Tea, but Be Aware of Its Contraindications

Based on the published research, almost anyone can benefit and enjoy chamomile tea, even infants. Aside from this, growing your own chamomile flowers can significantly improve the appearance of your garden. If you’re thinking about incorporating chamomile into your diet, be sure to consult with your doctor first to rule out allergies and potential complications that may disrupt your health.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chamomile Tea

Q: Is chamomile tea safe?

A: Chamomile tea is generally safe to drink. However, beware that it may enhance the effects of medications such as warfarin, anti-epileptics and sedatives, as well as possibly trigger allergies. If any of these conditions apply to you, avoid drinking chamomile tea.28

Q: What does chamomile tea taste like?

A: Chamomile tea is commonly described to have an apple-like taste with floral sweetness. It normally doesn’t require any sweeteners due to its natural flavor, but other ingredients can be added if you want to experiment.29

Q: Does chamomile tea help with sleep?

A: Yes, chamomile tea may help encourage sleepiness.

Q: Can you drink chamomile tea while pregnant?

A: Chamomile tea may be safe to drink during pregnancy, but consult with a doctor first to rule out possible complications.30

Q: What does chamomile tea do?

A: Chamomile tea is known for helping induce sleep, relieving stress, boosting your immune system and alleviating stomach issues.31

Q: Does chamomile tea have caffeine?

A: Chamomile tea does not have caffeine, and on the contrary, is actually used to help promote sleep.32

Q: How much chamomile tea can babies drink?

A: Babies may be able to ingest small amounts of chamomile tea, typically 1 to 2 ounces only.33

Q: Where can you buy chamomile tea?

A: There are many online stores that carry various brands of chamomile tea, like Amazon. However, the important thing to consider is the quality of the product. Certified organic chamomile tea is always preferred to ensure quality, freshness and bioavailability of the ingredients.34

Q: Does chamomile tea stain your teeth?

A: Yes, herbal teas like chamomile tea may stain your teeth, with low-quality varieties causing even worse appearance. However, adding a dash of raw, grass fed milk into your cup may help reduce the effects.35

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References

  • 1, 3 Natural Society, “Chamomile Benefits: Growing Your Own Medicine” April 6, 2013
  • 2, 4 Herbal Encyclopedia, “Chamomile”
  • 5 Vicony Tea Directory, “Chamomile Tea”
  • 6 Molecular Medicine Report, 2010 Nov 1;3(6):895-901
  • 7, 8 Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 1973 Nov to Dec;13(11):475-9
  • 9 International Journal of Oncology, 2007 Jan;30(1):233-45
  • 10 Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 2008 Feb 15;227(1):125-135
  • 11 European Journal of Public Health, 2015 Dec,25(6):1001-5
  • 12 Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, 2015 Feb;38(2):163-70
  • 13 EurekAlert!, “Chamomile Tea: New Evidence Supports Health Benefits” January 4, 2005
  • 14 MyFitnessPal, “Calories in Tea, Herb, Chamomile, Brewed”
  • 15  SELFNutritionData, “Tea, Herb, Chamomile, Brewed”
  • 16 Gardening Know How, “Tips for How to Grow Chamomile”
  • 17, 18 The Spruce, “How to Grow Chamomile — A Delicate but Tough Herb” August 17, 2017
  • 19 Grow a Good Life, “Growing Chamomile for Tea” August 6, 2014
  • 20 Getty Stewart, “How and When to Harvest Chamomile” July 6, 2017
  • 21 Genius Kitchen, “Chamomile Herb Tea”
  • 22 The Tea Talk, “Potential Chamomile Side Effects, Cautions and Contraindications”
  • 23, 26 Livestrong.com, “Side Effects & Benefits of Chamomile Tea” October 3, 2017
  • 24, 28, 30 Healthline, “Chamomile Tea While Pregnant: Is It Safe?”
  • 25 BabyDotDot, “What Are the Benefits of Chamomile Tea for Babies?”
  • 27 The Nest, “Side Effects & Benefits of Chamomile Tea”
  • 29 Living Herbal Tea, “The Flavor of Chamomile Herbal Tea”
  • 31 Organic Facts, “10 Best Benefits of Chamomile Tea”
  • 32 Tea Galaxy, “Learn the Types of Teas Without Caffeine” November 25, 2014
  • 33 Mom Tricks, “Why Giving Chamomile Tea to Your Baby Could Be a Great Idea” August 10, 2017
  • 34 Amazon, “Organic Chamomile Tea”
  • 35 Greatist, “Which Foods Actually Stain Your Teeth (and Which Don’t)” April 21. 2015