Chamomile tea is likely the healthiest of the herbal teas commonly available at coffee shops and restaurants. But did you know that chamomile tea helps prevent thyroid cancers and other thyroid con,ditions?
Okay so green tea has become the darling of research on medicinal plants. And it has lots of benefits due to its wealth of antioxidants and anticancer agents such as catechins. But green tea also has a considerable amount of caffeine – up to 70+ milligrams per cup – which can hype you up and interfere with sleep. Especially if its consumed too late in the day.
This isn’t to take away from green tea, but green tea is after all derived from the same plant – Camellia sinensis – as black tea. The difference? Green tea is not as extensively dehydrated at higher temperatures as black teas are. As a result, green tea will often have less caffeine, but not by much.
Chamomile tea is the healthy decaf alternative
The reason I bring all this up is that tea drinkers may be looking for that no-caffeine solution that also provides outstanding healing benefits.
Not long ago we examined the ability of chamomile tea to extend lifetime. A study of 1,677 men and women found that chamomile tea was able to extend life by nearly a third for adults 65 years and older.
Now we find that regularly drinking chamomile tea will reduce our risk of thyroid cancers and other thyroid disorders. How did they determine this?
Chamomile reduces risk of thyroid conditions
The researchers, from the University of Athens, studied over 500 people, including 399 Greek patients who had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer or associated benign thyroid conditions. These included 113 people with thyroid cancer. Along with the thyroid cancer patients the researchers also tested 138 healthy subjects – who provided a control group.
The patients and healthy controls were extensively interviewed regarding their diet and other lifestyle habits. The interviews were conducted personally with trained interview technicians.
The researchers eliminated the effects of known thyroid condition associations including alcohol, smoking, coffee consumption, age and obesity.
The research – published in the European Journal of Public Health – found that drinking chamomile tea regularly over a 30-year period reduced the risk of thyroid cancer by nearly 80 percent.
More specifically, those who drank chamomile tea two to six times each week reduced their risk of any thyroid disease by 74 percent. Common thyroid disorders include hyperthyroidism, goiters and others.
Regularly drinking two other herbal teas – notably Greek mountain tea and herbal tea – also helped reduce thyroid conditions, but not nearly as much as the effect of drinking chamomile tea.
One might wonder just how many of the test subjects drank chamomile tea? Close to a third of the total subjects drank chamomile tea regularly.
The significance of these numbers was enough for the researchers to write in their conclusion:
“Our findings suggest for the first time that drinking herbal teas, especially chamomile, protects from thyroid cancer as well as other benign thyroid diseases.”
Common chamomile versus German chamomile
Most of us refer to chamomile as the common or Roman variety – Chamaemelum nobile. This species is also considered English chamomile.
Another species altogether is German chamomile – or Matricaria chamomilla.
Both of these species are used in chamomile tea – but they are different plants. Yes, they do have similar properties and have been used similarly. But the German variety has been used in traditional medicine for nerve pain in addition to other effects of chamomile.
Among commercial brands we might find either – or even a combination of both of these species.
Let’s discuss the traditional uses of chamomile.
According to traditional texts, Common or Roman chamomile, as well as German chamomile, was used to treat gastrointestinal issues, inflammation, headaches, toothaches, earaches and a general tonic for aches and pains.
It was commonly used as a poultice – where it was applied to local injuries and inflammation. The oil derived from the flowers were applied to hard swellings and cramps. The tea was used to calm children down and tinctures were given to hypersensitivity.
A syrup from the stem and flower juice was also utilized in jaundice and dropsy – a traditional word used for edema – the swelling of the legs that can occur from heart conditions.
The effects of chamomile have also been defined traditionally as anti-spasmodic, soothing, healing, tonic, carminative, anti-allergic among others.
Riza E, Linos A, Petralias A, de Martinis L, Duntas L, Linos D. The effect of Greek herbal tea consumption on thyroid cancer: a case-control study. Eur J Public Health. 2015 Apr 4. pii: ckv063.
Potterton D. ed. Culpeper’s Color Herbal. Sterling Pub., 1983
Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine Hippokrates Verlag, 1960-1985.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.