Chamomile Uses, Side Effects and Drug Interactions

Chamomile is a plant belonging to Composite family. The flower of plant is used as energizing and relaxing herb. Chamomile reduces anxiety, stress and discomfort. It is also given in case of digestive health. It is soothing for teething and colicky babies.

Chamomile is mild sedative, carminative, antiseptic, analgesic, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory. It has been used for the treatment of gout, indigestion, diarrhea, and insomnia and in pediatric practice for infantile convulsions, colic, and teething pains.

About Chamomile Plant

Chamomile is an annual herb. It is found in southern Europe and northern Asia. The stem of plant is round, furrowed, and branched and grows one to two feet in height.

The leaves are pale green, incised, and sessile, with thread-shaped leaflets.

The flower heads consists of yellow disk flowers and white petal-shaped ray flowers that are bent downward to make the disk flowers more prominent.

The medicinal part is the flower. The leaves are also used for preparation of Chamomile Tea.

Chamomile Constituents

Matricaria recutita contains volatile oil in which α-bisabolol is up to 50%. Other components of the volatile oil include chamazulene, guiazuline, farnescene, α-bisablol derivatives and matricine.  Flavonoids apigenin, luteolin, patuletin, and quercetin and related glycosides are also present.

Chamomile Biomedical Action

  • Anodyne: a substance which relieves pain, usually with accompanied sedation.
  • Anthelmintic: an agent which destroys or expels intestinal worms.
  • Antianxiety: Reduces anxiety.
  • Anticoagulant: having the effect of retarding or inhibiting the coagulation of the blood.
  • Antidiabetic: Lowers blood sugar.
  • Antioxidant: Neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
  • Antispasmodic: an agent which relieves or prevents spasms, usually of the smooth muscles. Barbiturates and valerian are examples of antispasmodics.
  • Antispasmodic: Used to relieve spasm of involuntary muscle.
  • Calming: Soothing.
  • Carminative: herb intended to either prevent formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract or facilitate the expulsion of said gas, thereby combatting flatulence.
  • Diaphoretic: an agent which increases perspiration.
  • Phytoestrogen: Plant estrogen.
  • Sedative: promoting calm or inducing sleep.

Indications of Chamomile

Chamomilla is a commonly used as a natural remedy beneficial as a sedative, spasmolytic and anti-inflammatory agent. It is used topically in psoriasis, eczema and acne, and internally to alleviate fever, bronchitis, cough and the common cold.

  • Anxiety
  • Calming the mind
  • Colic
  • Colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Spasms
  • Upset stomach
  • Wound healing (topical)

Chamomile Dose

When used in form of capsules (extract) the dose is 400 milligrams to 1,600 milligrams daily.

The Mother Tincture is taken in dose of 3-10 ml, thrice a day.

The tea or infusion prepared at home can be taken in dose of 1 to 4 cups.

The tea is prepared using chamomile tea bag or chamomile flower or one teaspoon dried chamomile leaves. Any of these is steeped in one cup hot water. The cup is covered with a saucer and left for 5 to 10 minutes. This infusion is taken lukewarm.

Toxicity

The drug has low toxicity.

It may cause rare contact allergy. The pollen contained in these infusions appears to be responsible for the allergic reaction.

Although no evidence of a drug–herb interaction between warfarin and chamomilla has been documented, there is a theoretical risk because it is thought to be a coumarin constituent.

Chamomile Side Effects

  • Chamomile is considered a safe plant when taken in recommended dose and the patient is otherwise healthy.
  • When taken along with blood thinning medicines, chamomile anticoagulant effect can increase to the extent that internal hemorrhage and edema can occur.
  • The teas prepared from pollen-laden flower heads cause contact dermatitis and anaphylaxis (rare) on hypersensitive individuals.
  • In some people topical use of chamomile can cause allergic eczema and irritate the eyes.
  • Its use in eyewash can cause allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Highly concentrated hot tea is emetic.
  • The infusion should not be used near the eyes.
  • In case of overdose, following side effects are observed:
  • Drowsiness due to excess sedative effects
  • Vomiting

Drug Interaction

Avoid concomitant administration of chamomile during iron intake.

Chamomile has blood thinning effect and it has moderate drug interaction with warfarin.

There is a case of a 70-year-old woman who, while being treated with warfarin, was admitted to hospital with multiple internal hemorrhages after having used chamomile products (tea and body lotion) to soothe upper respiratory tract symptoms. Chamomile may have interacted with warfarin by a pharmacodynamic effect, because of its coumarin content.

Contraindications

  • Chamomile is contraindicated in following cases:
  • Known allergy to chamomile or
  • Other members of the Composite / daisy family

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