Chamomile flowers are a member of the daisy family with their bright gold cones shining in the center of white petals.
With more than one million cups of chamomile tea consumed every day and supplements of chamomile capsules, liquid extracts, ointments, and essential oils in wide use, chamomile is one of the most highly used and research-proven medicinal plants. It has been studied for use with insomnia, heart conditions, colds, inflammation, skin eczema, upset stomach, osteoporosis, anxiety, sore throat, wound healing and more.
Chamomile for Sleep and Insomnia
Chamomile has long been used as a natural sleep aid and insomnia remedy. The powerful oils contained in its flowers provide a calming effect for sleeplessness, nervousness and anxiety. In one study, heart patients were given chamomile tea and then fell into a deep sleep. In another study with animals done in Japan, relaxation was increased and the time needed to fall asleep was significantly reduced. In an 8-week study of people with anxiety, chamomile was shown to greatly reduce symptoms and increase well-being.
Stomach Conditions Helped by Chamomile
Chamomile is one of the main “go to” herbs for digestive disorders like upset stomach, ulcers, diarrhea and gas. It helps to relax muscle contractions, particularly in the smooth muscles that make up the intestines. In one journal study from Switzerland, the herbal combination of iberis (an herb in the cabbage family), peppermint and chamomile were shown to be effective in the treatment of stomach indigestion, irritation and inflammation.
Eczema and Skin Conditions
Inflammation of the skin is widely treated and remedied by topical chamomile preparations. It has the ability to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and help with eczema and other skin inflammations. In a European medical journal, a cream with chamomile extract was tested against a hydrocortisone cream. After a 2-week treatment, the chamomile cream showed a mild superiority in effectiveness over hydrocortisone.
Osteoporosis and Bone Health
In the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, chamomile extract was studied for its ability to prevent the bone loss that can occur as people age. Chamomile demonstrated the ability to help mineralize bone cells and showed an anti-estrogenic quality. The researchers noted that this may be due to chamomile having a quality as a possible regulator of excess estrogen in the body.
Calcium and Chamomile – A Winning Duo
Calcium is also directly related to our good sleep. In one study, called “The Nutritional Relationships of Magnesium”, the author notes that the type of insomnia associated with a calcium deficiency causes difficulty with falling asleep. This same study says that “Muscle cramps associated with a calcium deficiency often occur at night and without exertion.”
In another study published in the European Neurology Journal, researchers found that calcium levels in the body are higher during some of the deepest levels of sleep, such as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase when most dreaming occurs. This study discovered that disturbances in sleep, especially the absence of REM deep sleep or disturbed REM sleep, are related to a calcium deficiency.
Anyone who has a strong allergy to plants like daisies or ragweed (with its tiny green flowers) should start with a very small amount of chamomile, whether using it as a tea, supplement or skin ointment. Most people can gain benefits from chamomile without any reactions. It is one of nature’s most potent herbs and can help with calming insomnia, anxiety, muscle spasms, PMS, skin inflammations, stomach disorders, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, arthritis and more.
As a first line of defense against sleeplessness and insomnia, chamomile and calcium are good bets. Coming from the worlds of herbal and mineral sleep aids, they are normally taken safely without addictive qualities or side effects.