Chamomile has been used in different countries for many generations to prevent and treat different types of illnesses. It is a member of the daisy family; its dried flower heads contain terpenoids and flavonoids that contribute to its herbal properties, and are brewed and popularly taken as tea. Chamomile tea has a mild, gentle sweet taste, and floral aroma, and is a caffeine-free drink which many consider as a good alternative to green tea.
Chamomile tea’s benefits include providing relief to gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion, diarrhea, flatulence, and stomach cramps, and also treating nausea and motion sickness. As a mild sedative, chamomile tea soothes the nerves, reduces anxiety, and addresses insomnia and other sleep issues. Chamomile tea has also its uses in female reproductive health, specifically as a uterine tonic to relieve tension and cramps during childbirth. It has also been used to treat fevers and colic in children. Other popular uses of chamomile include: chamomile essentials oils used in cosmetics, hair and skin care, and aromatherapy; chamomile for external application to ease swelling; and as gargle for mouth and throat inflammations.
A study was conducted to test the effects of chamomile tea on twenty (20) staff members working in an operating room at the Hamadan University of Medical Sciences in Iran. Operating room personnel are usually exposed to radiation and anesthetic gases that can affect the body’s systems and can increase the risk of getting cancer. After drinking 2 cups of chamomile tea everyday for 21 days, the study’s results showed how drinking chamomile tea helped reduce the oxidative stress and damage that the staff are mostly exposed to due to the nature of their work environment. Further research and scientific evaluations of chamomile’s medicinal functions and therapeutic benefits have been continually explored and studied, such as its role in preventing cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, stomach ulcers, and osteoporosis, and treating generalized anxiety disorders and seizures, among others.
While chamomile’s popularity mostly rests on its herbal and medicinal properties, it has also been used by some restaurant and pastry chefs in the US to create flavorful dishes and desserts. Craig Richards, a former chef in St. Cecilia restaurant in Atlanta, created a scallop with chamomile-celery oil recipe, the chamomile adding some herbal flavor to complement the raw fish. Pastry chef Mina Pizarro in Manhattan infuses chamomile into ice cream, and adds yuzu and ginger for a combination of subtle sweetness from the chamomile and spiciness of ginger. These, among others, are just examples of the endless possibilities of incorporating chamomile, not just in medicinal, but also in culinary innovations.
McKay, D. L., & Blumberg, J. B. (2006). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita L.). Phytotherapy Research, 20, 519–530. doi:10.1002/ptr.1900. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16628544. Accessed on 20 November 2018.
Ranjbar, A. “The effects of Chamomile tea on antioxidative biomarkers in operating room staff .” Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Hamadan, Iran. http://www.herbmedpharmacol.com/PDF/JHP-4-98.pdf. Accessed on 19 November 2018.
Srivastacva, et.al. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/. Accessed on 19 November 2018.
http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/10/22/get-cooking-with-chamomile/. Accessed on 13 December 2018.