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Chamomile

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This fact sheet provides basic information about chamomile—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.

 

Common Names:  chamomile, German chamomile

Latin Name: 
Matricaria recutita, Chamomilla recutita

Background

  • There are two types of chamomile: German chamomile and Roman chamomile. This fact sheet focuses on German chamomile.
  • Chamomile was described in ancient medical writings and was an important medicinal herb in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
  • Today, chamomile is used as a dietary supplement for sleeplessness, anxiety, and gastrointestinal conditions such as upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea. It is also used topically for skin conditions and for mouth sores resulting from cancer treatment.
  • The flowering tops of the chamomile plant are used to make teas, liquid extracts, capsules, or tablets. The herb can also be applied to the skin as a cream or an ointment, or used as a mouth rinse.

How Much Do We Know?

  • Not much is known about the health effects of chamomile because it has not been well studied in people.

What Have We Learned?

  • Some preliminary studies suggest that a chamomile dietary supplement might be helpful for generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Some research has found that products containing certain combinations of herbs that include chamomile may be of benefit for upset stomach, for diarrhea in children, and for infants with colic. But chamomile alone has not been shown to be helpful for these conditions.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • There have been reports of allergic reactions, including rare cases of anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction), in people who have consumed or come into contact with chamomile products.
  • People are more likely to experience allergic reactions to chamomile if they’re allergic to related plants such as ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies.
  • Interactions between chamomile and cyclosporine (a drug used to prevent rejection of organ transplants) and warfarin (a blood thinner) have been reported, and there are theoretical reasons to suspect that chamomile might interact with other drugs as well. Talk to your health care provider before taking chamomile if you’re taking any type of medicine.

Keep in Mind

  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help to ensure coordinated and safe care.

NCCIH Clearinghouse

The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.: 
1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers): 
1-866-464-3615
E-mail: 

PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.

Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

ODS seeks to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, supporting research, sharing research results, and educating the public. Its resources include publications (such as Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know), fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements), and the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset.

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Key References

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

* Note: PDF files require a viewer such as the free Adobe Reader.

NCCIH Publication No.: 
D388
Updated: 
September 2016

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.


NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advise of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

nccih.nih.gov

This page last modified November 29, 2016