Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is unique among herbal medicines because it has been the subject of more scientific research compared to other traditional herbs.
But that doesn’t mean chamomile herb lags in medicinal benefits. It is not only an extremely popular herbal remedy, and a delicious tea decoction: It also can make a serious impact upon your health in the short and long run.
Chamomile extends life
Speaking of the long run, research from the University of Texas’ Medical Branch has determined that drinking Chamomile tea regularly will decrease the risk of death by nearly a third.
The researchers followed 1,677 men and women who were 65 years old and older from Texas and four other Southwestern U.S. states. Mexican-Americans were followed, as chamomile tea is a traditional tea among many Mexican-Americans.
Among the 1,677 people followed, 14 percent drank chamomile tea regularly. Over the seven-year period, the mortality among the population was calculated and reviewed along with diseases, lifestyle, diet and so on.
The study found those who regularly drank chamomile tea had an average of 29 percent reduction in deaths during the seven years compared to those who didn’t drink chamomile tea. The women alone had a 33 percent reduction in death, and after adjusting out variables related to chronic health conditions, demographics and health behaviors, this reduction remained at 28 percent.
Chamomile tea drinking among men did not have the same effect, but far fewer men in the study population drank chamomile tea. Chamomile tea is largely a traditional drink among Hispanic women.
Manzanilla – traditional Mexican herb
The lead researcher in the study was Dr. Bret Howrey, assistant professor of family medicine at University of Texas’ Medical Branch. Dr. Howrey addressed the gender difference in Chamomile tea consumption among traditional Hispanic families:
“This difference may be due to traditional gender roles whereby women manage the day-to-day activities of the household, including family health, and may also reflect greater reliance on folk remedies such as herbs.”
The Chamomile herb is called Manzanilla in most Spanish-speaking countries. It is traditionally drank as a tea and used to calm the mind and digestive system. All around the world, outside of black and green tea (Camellia sinensis), Chamomile has remained one of the most popular herbal teas for thousands of years, and for good reason.
Chamomile has many health benefits
As to the mechanisms of life extension, several come to mind that have been found among the scientific literature.
We discussed how chamomile can help prevent cancer in another article.
One of the more important mechanisms is Chamomile’s antioxidant and antibacterial properties. A recent study found that Chamomile exhibited significant antioxidant properties along with antibacterial effects among a variety of microbes.
A study from Serbia’s University of Novi Sad found that Chamomile not only had antioxidant and antibacterial effects, but also the ability to halt cancer growth among two human cancer cell lines. Studies have shown that Chamomile may help protect the liver as well.
Chamomile’s effectiveness in extending life may also be contributed by its ability to soothe and relax the nerves. This is notable because stress has been found as common factor in many chronic disease conditions. Many studies have illustrated Chamomile’s ability to reduce stress: For example, a recent German study found that Chamomile was effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder. We also discussed how chamomile can help treat depression and anxiety in a related article.
Beyond these uses, Chamomile has been traditionally used for insomnia, cramping, menstruation issues, ulcers, inflammation, muscle pains and digestive discomfort.
Chamomile contains numerous medicinal compounds. These include a variety of phenols including apigenins.Other research has shown that apigenins inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
One study found Chamomile contained ten different phenolic compounds. Green tea also contains a number of phenols as well.
Bret T. Howrey, M. Kristen Peek, Juliet M. McKee, Mukaila A. Raji, Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, and Kyriakos S. Markides. Chamomile Consumption and Mortality: A Prospective Study of Mexican Origin Older Adults. The Gerontologist. April 29, 2015 doi:10.1093/geront/gnv051
UTMB Newsroom. Drinking chamomile decreases risk of death in older Mexican American women. May 15, 2015
Sebai H, Jabri MA, Souli A, Hosni K, Rtibi K, Tebourbi O, El-Benna J, Sakly M. Chemical composition, antioxidant properties and hepatoprotective effects of chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) decoction extract against alcohol-induced oxidative stress in rat. Gen Physiol Biophys. 2015 Mar 27.
Cvetanović A, Švarc-Gajić J, Zeković Z, Savić S, Vulić J, Mašković P, Ćetković G. Comparative analysis of antioxidant, antimicrobiological and cytotoxic activities of native and fermented chamomile ligulate flower extracts. Planta. 2015 May 15.
Ross SM. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): efficacy of standardized Matricaria recutita (German chamomile) extract in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. Holist Nurs Pract. 2013 Nov-Dec;27(6):366-8. doi: 10.1097/HNP.0b013e3182a8eb62.
Mekinić IG, Skroza D, Ljubenkov I, Krstulović L, Možina SS, Katalinić V. Phenolic acids profile, antioxidant and antibacterial activity of chamomile, common yarrow and immortelle (Asteraceae). Nat Prod Commun. 2014 Dec;9(12):1745-8.
Kowalczyk A, Bodalska A, Miranowicz M, Karłowicz-Bodalska K. Insights into novel anticancer applications for apigenin. Adv Clin Exp Med. 2017 Oct;26(7):1143-1146.
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.