The Golden Benefits of Chamomile Tea: But Beware of Side Effects!

The side effects of chamomile tea, also known as chamomile or camomile, are rare but necessitate consultation with a doctor before using it for therapeutic purposes. 

Chamomile tea is prepared from the flowers of the chamomile plant, which grows all over the world and is known for its distinctive scent reminiscent of apples. Chamomile tea, or chamomile, is highly popular and provides a diverse range of health benefits, according to experts and research alike.

As reported by Forbes magazine, chamomile tea is prepared by steeping chamomile flowers in hot water. Despite there being many varieties of chamomile, German chamomile flowers and Roman chamomile plants are the most commonly used in tea.

Studies indicate that chamomile has a long history of use as a medicinal tea, potentially dating back to ancient Pharaonic, Chinese, Roman, and Greek eras. Modern studies explore the potential health effects of the plant, in addition to its beneficial compounds, such as flavonoids (plant chemicals acting as antioxidants), terpenoids (organic chemicals), and coumarin (a type of aromatic chemical also found in cinnamon), all known for their medicinal properties.

The Benefits of Chamomile Tea

Results from studies, conducted using chamomile extract or other forms of chamomile, suggest that it provides the following benefits:

1. Improved Sleep Quality

Dr. Monisha Bhanote, an integrative medicine physician in Jacksonville, Florida, states that chamomile tea helps in relaxing before sleep and achieving better sleep. Chamomile contains various compounds, like apigenin, a type of flavonoid naturally found in plants that acts as an antioxidant, providing calming effects, supporting relaxation, and reducing anxiety to facilitate easier sleep.

2. Alleviating Digestive Issues

According to Holly Bellebuono, an herbalist and author of "The Essential Herbal for Natural Health," consuming chamomile tea leads to improvement in digestive issues, including diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, and other digestive disorders. Chamomile tea or camomile helps in easing symptoms of indigestion, as well as gently stimulating the digestion process and reducing bloating.

3. Blood Sugar Control

Professor Bhanote suggests that chamomile tea may aid in regulating blood sugar levels due to its compounds like apigenin and quercetin, noting that these compounds have shown to lower blood sugar levels in initial research. She explains, "Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may also indirectly contribute to better blood sugar regulation by addressing insulin resistance and oxidative stress (cell damage caused by harmful compounds called free radicals)."

A study conducted in 2016 and published in the journal Nutrition found that drinking chamomile tea three times daily for eight weeks reduced insulin levels, improved insulin resistance, and lowered average A1c levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

4. Heart Health Promotion

Professor Bhanote says, "The biologically active compounds in chamomile tea potentially offer benefits for heart health," explaining that chamomile may help in reducing inflammation, regulating blood pressure, and lowering cholesterol levels.

Results from a 2015 study on 64 individuals with type 2 diabetes to examine the effects of drinking chamomile tea three times daily over an eight-week period showed improvements in A1c levels and insulin levels, along with a significant decrease in total and LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Other studies also support the benefits of chamomile in improving blood pressure measurements.

Side Effects of Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea, generally recognized as safe for consumption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), can rarely cause uncommon side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and allergic reactions. Experts advise avoiding or refraining from consuming chamomile tea during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Chamomile herbal tea can also interact with some medications, such as warfarin (a blood thinner) and cyclosporine (an immunosuppressant used to prevent organ transplant rejection). Additionally, chamomile may interact with certain diabetes medications.

Chamomile contains a high percentage of farnesene, so individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may experience exacerbated symptoms when consuming it. Consulting the treating physician is advised before using chamomile tea for medicinal purposes, especially if the individual has an underlying health condition or is taking other medications.

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