Calming Chamomile: Not Only a Sleep Tea

Posted by Stephany Morgan on

When it comes to the world of herbal teas, chamomile sounds like an old friend. Even in households where tea beverages are rare, you can usually find a box of chamomile hidden in the back cupboard. The name is familiar… Reminiscent of late nights in the kitchen, winding down for bedtime. 

Hands wrapped around a steaming mug, inhaling the sweet aroma, fruity and floral, this drink is the perfect bedtime drink.

But bedtime isn’t all chamomile is good for! This versatile, antioxidant-rich tea has many qualities. But first, which chamomile? 

German chamomile or Roman chamomile?

Some may be surprised to discover that there are multiple chamomile varieties. Only two of which are commercially used and consumed for pleasure and medicinal value, however. Other species are considered garden varieties, weeds, or used for oil extraction.

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Both have many similarities and some striking differences. Regardless of which cuppa you enjoy there are benefits galore! Still valued today, thousands of years of medicinal use can be traced all the way back to Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

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Health benefits of Chamomile

Herbalists know both varieties are attributed with the following properties: anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antimicrobial, stops the growth of bacteria (bacteriostatic), helps relieve flatulence (carminative), relieves muscle spasms (antispasmodic), and helps dissolve and eliminate mucus (making it an excellent choice for chest colds).

When it comes to the essential oil (which is contained in small amounts in the teas), German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) has an affinity for the skin,  improves digestion and detoxification and helps with menstrual symptoms. Roman chamomile helps with mood swings, anger, irritation, and is good for soreness and headaches.

Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) has antiemetic properties meaning it can help with nausea and vomiting.

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Where do chamomiles come from?

Chamomiles hail from diverse areas such as western Europe, western Asia, and India, though they are found as far as Africa, the Americas and Australia. Egypt is a main cultivar of chamomile and provides some of the highest quality plants fed by the rich environment (and all of our chamomiles sold at Matcha Alternatives are from Egypt, the best of the best).

However, it's important to note that “Egyptian chamomile” is not a third variety of chamomile! There is misinformation suggesting that it is a separate variety, but the lack of any materia medica and a Latin binomial lends to the fact that it is simply a way to describe the origin of where the tea was cultivated. In general, it's reasonable to assume 'chamomile' is German chamomile as well, as Roman chamomile is harder to grow on commercial scales, and is most commonly used in gardens rather than tea! 

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Fun Chamomile Facts

  • German chamomile has relaxant effects and has not been observed to cause any harm during pregnancy despite wide consumption by pregnant women.
  • German chamomile has earned the title of the official medicinal variety.
  • Roman chamomile is associated with inducing labor (note that here at Matcha Alternatives we only sell German chamomile).
  • It is caffeine-free!
  • Low in tannins and anti-inflammatory, it can support mouth health and does not cause dry mouth. Unless you over-brew it, then there may be an astringent, drying sensation.
  • Its sedative action is less potent than the herbal supplement valerian, and doesn't cause grogginess or have withdrawal symptoms (unlike Valerian).
  • German chamomile has been used safely in small amounts to help children sleep.
  • Both chamomiles can lighten hair and are used to add a golden tint, though German chamomile contains more apigenin, the agent responsible for the pigmentation.
  • Chamomile's ORAC level is ~1000 / 8fl oz. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and is a scale to gauge antioxidant units.The higher the ORAC value, the higher the antioxidant level. For comparison, the same amount of Matcha has an ORAC of ~1384.

A note from the Herbalist...

And of course...All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. The information here is for educational use only.

If you enjoyed this piece, subscribe to the MA Blog so you never miss another! It's all about tea, alternatives to matcha, antioxidants and smashing the pseudo-science myths peddled by the wellness industry. Also, don’t worry we hate spam as much as you do: we won't send any marketing emails. Any new teas or occasional offers are simply included in the regular "latest blog" notifications :-)

 

Further Reading & References about Chamomile

'Different Types of Chamomile Tea', Green Tea Source. Retrieved 6-7-2019. 

Sharafzadeh, S., & Alizadeh, O. (2011). German and Roman Chamomile. Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, 1(10), 1-5. Retrieved June 8, 2019.

'Chamomile Benefits', Herb Wisdom. Retrieved 6-7-2019. 

'Chamomile', Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 6-7-2019.

Morgan, L. 'Compare German vs Roman Chamomile', Healing Scents. Retrieved 6-7-2019. 

Singh, O., Khanam, Z., Misra, N., & Srivastava, M. K. (2011). Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.): An overview. Pharmacognosy Review, 5(9), 82–95. Retrieved 6-7-2019. DOI:10.4103/0973-7847.79103 

'Chamomile Benefits: Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Cancer', Dr Axe. Retrieved 6-7-2019.

'The Best way to Lighten and Highlight your Hair Naturally: It Actually Works', Hair Buddha. Retrieved 6-7-2019.

Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone.

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