What You Need to Know
When you think about buying any kind of dietary supplement, there are certain things you should remember including the following:
- Look for third-party testing: Third-party testing, such as that by the NSF, ensures that the potency and purity of the product matches what it says on the label.
- Check the label carefully: According to NSF, the label of a dietary supplement should include certain information such as:
- Supplement name
- Measure of contents
- Directions for use
- A supplement facts panel with listed serving size, number of servings, and active ingredients, as well as other ingredients
- The name and place of business of the manufacturer or distributor
- Only take the recommended dose: Typically, the dose listed on the label is what the manufacturer has determined is an effective and safe dose, thus taking more is not necessarily better.
- Check with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement: Although they may seem natural and harmless, some dietary or herbal supplements can interact with some medicines, therefore be sure to let your doctor know before starting to make sure it’s safe for you.
Types of Chamomile
There are three types of chamomile known as Roman, English, and German chamomile. Although these are different species of the chamomile plant, they provide similar health benefits.
In traditional medicine, Roman chamomile has been used to treat upset stomach, nausea, vomiting as well as heartburn and gas. On the other hand, German chamomile is known for its positive effects on wound healing, muscle spasms, and sleep. Finally, English chamomile has been used as a sleep aid, a stomach reliever and for its calming effects.
The health benefits of chamomile come from its flowers, which in all species look like tiny, daisy-like flowers. These flower heads are dried and used in herbal tea bags or capsules. In the case of supplements, the flower heads are crushed and steamed to produce a blue oil. Also, chamomile essential oils may become a part of a topical product, cosmetics, or used in aromatherapy.
German chamomile may act as an anti-inflammatory agent, however, such properties are not just in German chamomile. Chamomile extract in the form of a water-based extract has been effective as a mild sedative. In this form, chamomile may help those with conditions like anxiety and insomnia to calm their nerves and induce sleep. Furthermore, chamomile may provide benefits for those with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and premenstrual syndrome, to name a few.
Safe dosages of chamomile include:
- Tea: Three grams of dried flower heads per 150 mL water, three to four times daily
- One to four mL orally, three times daily in a 1:1 ratio in 45% alcohol
- 3-10% ointment or gel applied as needed
- 10-15 drops of liquid extract per 100 mL warm water as a mouthwash swished and swallowed three times daily
Even though both German chamomile and Roman chamomile are generally safe for most people, it’s not safe for everyone. Common side effects of taking chamomile include:
- Allergic reactions: Possible if you’re allergic to chamomile or are sensitive to plants like daisies, mums, marigolds, or ragweed
- Mild skin rash or skin irritation
- Eye irritation
- Vomiting, if taken in excessive amounts
Also, people who are taking medicines for certain conditions should not consume chamomile because of possible interactions. Such conditions include:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Autoimmune conditions
- Birth control pills
- Blood thinners
- Mental health conditions
Also, due to limited research on the impact of chamomile on babies, do not consume chamomile if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.