Chamomilla (Matricaria chamomilla L.) is a well-known medicinal plant species from the Asteraceae family often referred to as the “star among medicinal species.” Nowadays it is a highly favored and much used medicinal plant in folk and traditional medicine. Its multitherapeutic, cosmetic, and nutritional values have been established through years of traditional and scientific use and research. Chamomile has an established domestic (Indian) and international market, which is increasing day by day. The plant available in the market many a times is adulterated and substituted by close relatives of chamomile. This article briefly reviews the medicinal uses along with botany and cultivation techniques. Since chamomile is a rich source of natural products, details on chemical constituents of essential oil and plant parts as well as their pharmacological properties are included. Furthermore, particular emphasis is given to the biochemistry, biotechnology, market demand, and trade of the plant. This is an attempt to compile and document information on different aspects of chamomile and highlight the need for research and development.[#]
Traditionally, chamomile has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, mild astringent and healing medicine [#]. As a traditional medicine, it is used to treat wounds, ulcers, eczema, gout, skin irritations, bruises, burns, canker sores, neuralgia, sciatica, rheumatic pain, hemorrhoids, mastitis and other ailments [#]. Externally, chamomile has been used to treat diaper rash, cracked nipples, chicken pox, ear and eye infections, disorders of the eyes including blocked tear ducts, conjunctivitis, nasal inflammation and poison ivy [#, #]. Chamomile is widely used to treat inflammations of the skin and mucous membranes, and for various bacterial infections of the skin, oral cavity and gums, and respiratory tract. Chamomile in the form of an aqueous extract has been frequently used as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety, to treat hysteria, nightmares, insomnia and other sleep problems [#]. Chamomile has been valued as a digestive relaxant and has been used to treat various gastrointestinal disturbances including flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, anorexia, motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting [#, #]. Chamomile has also been used to treat colic, croup, and fevers in children [#]. It has been used as an emmenagogue and a uterine tonic in women. It is also effective in arthritis, back pain, bedsores and stomach cramps.
Indications of Chamomilla
- A cough – Where a cough is dry during sleep, tickling, irritating and mucus tastes bitter. A cough tends to be worse at night and most common in children.
- Skin irritation caused by radiation therapy (radiation dermatitis). Applying German chamomile cream (Kamillosan, AP Medical AB, Stockholm, Sweden) to the skin does not seem to prevent skin irritation caused by cancer radiation therapy.
- Common cold. Early research suggests that dissolving a German chamomile product (Kneipp Kamillen-Konzentrat, Kneipp Werke) in hot water and inhaling the steam for 10 minutes reduces common cold symptoms.
- Inflamed or irritated skin (eczema). Some research shows that applying a cream containing 2% German chamomile extract (Kamillosan, Asta Medica AG) to the skin improves inflamed or irritated skin. In fact, it might work better than creams containing 0.75% fluocortin butyl ester or 5% bufexamac. However, other research shows that applying a cream containing 10% German chamomile extract does not improve inflamed or irritated skin. The differences in effectiveness might be related to differences in creams used and the severity of eczema in patients.
- Uncontrolled urination or bedwetting (enuresis). Early research shows that applying oil infused with German chamomile to the skin above the pubic area or near the anus nightly for 6 weeks may reduce episodes of uncontrolled urination in children.
- Gum disease. Research shows that using an herbal toothpaste containing German chamomile, sage, myrrh eucalyptus, calcium carbonate, and sodium monoflurophosphate twice daily for 30 days reduces gum disease compared to pretreatment. But it doesn’t appear to work better than standard toothpaste.
- Hemorrhoids. Early research shows that applying German chamomile ointment (Kamillosan, Asta Medica AG) together with standard treatment improves bleeding, itching, and burning in people with hemorrhoids.
- Insomnia. Research shows that taking German chamomile twice daily for 28 days does not improve sleeping problems in people with insomnia.
- Sores in the mouth (oral mucositis). Using a German chamomile mouth rinse (Kamillosan Liquidum, Asta Media AG) might help prevent or treat sores in the mouth caused by radiation therapy and some types of chemotherapy. However, it doesn’t appear to prevent mouth sores caused by 5-fluorouracil. Using a mouth rinse containing German chamomile and peppermint oil before and during stem cell transplantation might help treat mouth sores caused by high-dose chemotherapy that is used before stem cell transplantation. However, it doesn’t appear to prevent these mouth sores from occurring.
- Skin breakdown around colostomy appliances (peristomal lesions). Early research shows that applying a German chamomile compress to areas of skin breakdown around colostomy appliances decreases the amount of time needed for skin lesions to heal by about 5 to 6 days compared to applying 1% hydrocortisone cream.
- Vaginal infection (vaginitis). Early research shows that flushing the vagina with a German chamomile extract in water reduces symptoms such as odor and swelling in women with vaginal infections.
- Wound healing. Research shows that applying a German chamomile product (Kamille Spitzner, W. Spitzner Arzneimittelfabrik GmbH) to wounds for 14 days reduces wound size after 4 days of treatment but does not affect wound healing approximately 3 weeks after tattoo removal.
- Diarrhea – Where it is painful, stools are greenish and smell of rotten eggs and is common in teething children.
- Flatulence – When the stomach tends to be bloated.
- Insomnia – When accompanied by sleepiness. Insomnia can be a result of pain, stimulants such as tea/coffee, anger, or too much chamomilla tea – this includes in the case of babies. This can also occur in people who are restless.
- Joint pain – Where the pain is violent and tends to be accompanied by numbness. The pain can cause the person to get out of bed during the night, as walking around eases it a little.
- Labor pains – Where the pains are distressing and severe, to unbearable. This is when the person says things like they cannot bear the pain and they want to die. Can be very angry and impatient while cervix could be slow to dilate.
- Vomiting – Where being sick is easy and you bring up bile. This type of sickness will be brought about by anger.
Gastrointestinal / Digestive Problems
- Colic, especially in infants who arch their back with the crying.
- Colic worsened by anger or irritation.
- Stool liked chopped grass or spinach.
- Rotten egg” odor to the stool.
- Nausea after coffee or warm drinks.
- Yellow tongue and bilious vomiting.
Teeth / Dental Problems
In children where the pain is unbearable and it is worse when given warm drinks/food or for pressure or, as mentioned above, warmth in bed. Chewing anything will make it much worse, as it hurts. A cough or diarrhea may accompany but not in all cases.
- Painful and difficult teething that is worse for warmth or pressure (chewing).
- Green diarrhea with teething.
- A toothache worse for warm food or drink; better for cold drinks.
Where the pains are aching, pressing, stitching, tearing or unbearable and it is worse for bending down and for wind.
- Acute or chronic otitis media (middle ear infections) with oversensitivity to pain.
- Ear pain triggered or worsened by the wind.
Menstrual (Period) Problems
Where the period is painful and the blood is clotted. Anger is an issue here and periods could be more frequent or even earlier than usual as a result of getting angry.
- Spasmodic, intolerable cramping that may extend to thighs.
- Profuse bleeding with clots.
Where the heat is burning and one-sided and is accompanied with both thirstiness and shivering. Tends to be worse around mid-morning and is a result of anger. This type of fever is where the face is hot, as is the breath but the body will be chilly/cold. The face can sweat after the person eats.
- Thirsty, restless, and irritable.
- Perspiration of scalp and covered parts.
- One cheek flushed, the other pale.
Contra-Indications of Chamomilla
Do not take chamomile without medical advice if you are using a medication to treat any of the following conditions:
- any type of infection (including HIV, malaria, or tuberculosis)
- asthma or allergies;
- erectile dysfunction
- heartburn or GERD
- high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a heart condition
- migraine headaches
- psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders or
- a psychiatric disorder
- birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy or
- warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven).
Dosage of Chamomilla
- Capsules containing 220-1100 mg of German chamomile extract have been taken daily for 8 weeks.
For heartburn (dyspepsia)
- 1 mL of a specific product containing licorice, milk thistle, peppermint leaf, German chamomile, caraway, celandine, angelica, lemon balm, and clown’s mustard plant (Iberogast; Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) has been taken three times daily for 4 weeks.
- Also, 1 mL of another specific product containing licorice, milk thistle, peppermint leaf, German chamomile, caraway, celandine, angelica, and lemon balm (STW-5-S, Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) has been taken three times daily for 4 weeks. In addition, 1 mL of a specific product containing clown’s mustard plant, German chamomile, peppermint, caraway, licorice, and lemon balm (STW 5-II, Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) has been taken three times daily for up to 12 weeks.
- In breast-fed infants, a specific multi-ingredient product containing 164 mg of fennel, 97 mg of lemon balm, and 178 mg of German chamomile (ColiMil by Milte Italia SPA) has been used twice daily for one week.
- Another specific multi-ingredient product containing 65 mg of lemon balm, 9 mg of German chamomile, and 1 billion heat-killed cells of Lactobacillus acidophilus (ColiMil Plus by Milte Italia SPA ) has been used twice daily for 4 weeks. Also 150 mL of an herbal tea containing German chamomile, vervain, licorice, fennel, and lemon balm (Calma-Bebi by Bonomelli) has been taken three times daily for 7 days.
- A specific product containing apple pectin and German chamomile extract has been used for 1-3 days in children 6 months to 6 years old.
Side Effects of Chamomilla
The most common
- Severe skin irritation (itching, rash, redness, swelling) after applying chamomile to the skin.
- Mild skin rash, scaling, or itching.
- Abdominal or stomach cramping, burning, or tenderness
- Upper respiratory tract infection
- Chest pain
- A headache
- Joint painPain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe stomach ache
- epigastric pain,
- a headache,
- fainting, fast or pounding heartbeats;
- collection of blood under the skin
- Severe stomach ache
- Severe diarrhea
- Mouth sores
- Vaginal thrush
- Skin rash
- A headache
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears
- Decreased appetite
- deep, dark purple bruise
- itching, pain, redness, or swelling
- pain in general
- red or purple spots on the skin, varying in size from pinpoint to large bruises
- Loss of hearing
Drug Interactions of Chamomilla
Chamomilla may interact with following drugs, supplements & may decrease the efficacy of the drug
- antacids (e.g., aluminum hydroxide, calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide)
- “azole” antifungals (e.g., fluconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole)
- calcium channel blockers (e.g., amlodipine, diltiazem, nifedipine, verapamil)
- loop diuretics furosemide
- Aspirin Low Strength (aspirin)
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
- CoQ10 (ubiquinone)
- Fish Oil (omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids)
- Flonase (fluticasone nasal)
- Ginger Root (ginger)
- Ginkgo Biloba (ginkgo)
- Paracetamol (acetaminophen)
- Probiotic Formula (bifidobacterium infantis / lactobacillus acidophilus)
- Sleep (diphenhydramine)
- Synthroid (levothyroxine)
- Tylenol (acetaminophen)
- Valerian Root (valerian)
- Vitamin B Complex 100 (multivitamin)
- Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
- Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
- Zinc (zinc sulfate)
- Zyrtec (cetirizine)