Chamomile is one of the most popular herbs used today and has been since ancient times. You may be familiar with it as a “sleep tea,” but there are many more incredible health benefits of chamomile that are lesser known.
German chamomile is the most frequently used type of chamomile and has outstanding properties for your whole body — particularly as a stress-reducing and skin-soothing herb. Research has also uncovered special anti-aging effects of a powerful compound found in chamomile.
Here’s a closer look at this unassuming herb and why you might want to start incorporating it in your daily life.
The Rich History of Chamomile: Herb of the Sun
Chamomile is truly one of the most ancient herbs, since its usage dates back at least 5000 years. It was known as “the herb of the sun” by the ancient Egyptians and dedicated to Ra, the sun god. The ancient Romans and Greeks also highly valued chamomile as both a medicinal and spiritual herb.
Fast forward several centuries and the founders of modern medicine (Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Galen, etc.) were all writing about the wonders of chamomile.
Some of these well-respected physicians “prescribed” it for headaches and other types of pain. Others valued it for digestion, liver support, and nervous disorders. It was also used as a general health-promoting tonic, which is a hint at the longevity benefits of chamomile that have been revealed by modern studies.
Chamomile was also very popular in Europe. It was mostly consumed as an herbal tea but also saw use as a natural deodorant, hair wash, and perfume.
Eventually, chamomile made its way to North America by way of British settlers and was used for pain, digestive issues, and allergies. Today, chamomile is still one of the most-sold herbs worldwide.
Types of Chamomile
Chamomile belongs to the daisy family and is native to western Europe and northern Africa. The most commonly used (and most well-researched) type is German chamomile: Matricaria chamomilla.
Another type — Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) — shares some similar benefits but does not have all the same compounds that make German chamomile so effective.
If you were to look at German chamomile growing, you probably wouldn’t suspect how powerful it is. It has cheerful, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers and white petals. These tiny flowers contain all the active compounds that chamomile is “famous” for. They can be harvested and dried for use, or made into a concentrated extract.
Time-Honored Health Benefits of Chamomile
Promotes Better Sleep
As you may know, one of the most well-known uses for chamomile is to promote sleep. Researchers think this benefit may be due to a compound in chamomile known as apigenin, which appears to bind to certain receptors in the brain, resulting in a mild sleep-inducing effect.
So if you regularly have trouble sleeping, try the age-old remedy of a cup of chamomile tea — perhaps combined with some other top sleep foods, like almonds.
Aids a Troubled Digestion
One little known nickname for German chamomile is “mother of the gut,” which refers to its ability to act as a digestive aid. It has been used for a range of digestive ailments, including nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and good old indigestion.
These digestive health benefits of chamomile are attributed to the anti-inflammatory and relaxing (anti-spasmodic) effect it has on your digestion. There’s even some evidence that German chamomile may help protect your stomach from ulcers.
It also has an exceptional safety profile and has been found useful for digestive issues in infants and children.
Calms Stress and May Help Relieve Anxiety
Most of us could use some extra stress relief, and chamomile can provide just that. The same properties that give it sleep-promoting power also help to calm your nervous system, resulting in an anti-stress effect.
Given these calming properties, there’s good indication that chamomile may prove useful for relieving anxiety. Many studies have been conducted on chamomile and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) — nearly all with good results.
In extract form, German chamomile has been found to reduce symptoms of mild to moderate GAD. One study even found that it had “a response rate comparable to those observed during conventional anxiolytic drug therapy,” which is incredible!
Natural Pain Reducer
Another of the top health benefits of chamomile is pain relief. It contains natural compounds, including apigenin, that have an anti-inflammatory effect and can reduce pain.
While chamomile has been used for headaches, back pain, and arthritis for a few thousand years, modern research is only beginning to explore this aspect of the herb. So far, studies have shown that drinking chamomile tea can help with menstrual pain, and a gel made with chamomile offers migraine relief.
Hopefully, research in this area will continue, since chamomile may offer an important natural form of pain reduction.
May Improve Blood Sugar
Recent studies have found that drinking chamomile tea may be helpful for diabetics. Specifically, drinking it daily — and especially right after a meal — can lower blood sugar levels in those who have diabetes.
These latter results have yet to be definitively confirmed in humans, but it’s still amazing what a simple cup of herbal tea can do for your health!
Powerful Anti-Aging Health Benefits of Chamomile
Contains the Incredible Anti-Aging Compound Apigenin
One of the main active compounds in German chamomile is a powerful antioxidant called apigenin. You may have noticed that it’s already been mentioned a few times because it plays a major role in most of chamomile’s benefits.
Apigenin is at least partly responsible for the sleep-inducing and pain-relieving effects of chamomile. But where it really shines is as an anti-aging powerhouse.
Apigenin belongs to a group of antioxidants known as flavonoids. This is an impressive group that contains other well-researched compounds like quercetin. Flavonoids, and particularly apigenin, are incredibly protective of your body as you age, as you’ll soon see.
May Lower Inflammation in the Body
Research over the past few decades has made us much more aware of just how bad chronic inflammation is for overall health. Studies have linked it to the development of many types of diseases, particularly those that are considered to be “age-related.”
Consuming antioxidants in general is one of the best things you can do to lower this type of inflammation. Apigenin is a specific antioxidant to focus on because it has shown significant anti-inflammatory effects. And German chamomile happens to be one of the top sources of apigenin we know of.
Immune-Enhancing & Potential Anticancer Agent
We often think of the immune system in relation to colds, flus, etc., but it also plays an important role in cancer prevention. In fact, it’s the main line of defense your body has to recognize and destroy cancer cells before they take hold.
Apigenin has shown immunomodulatory effects (basically, it may help your immune system function correctly) and may also stimulate your immune system. This helps keep your body “primed” to fend off cancer and other invaders. It also fights oxidative stress, which is another contributor to cancer formation.
More specific research has shown that apigenin may inhibit cell growth in many types of tumors (breast, lung, liver, skin, etc.) and appears to “recognize” cancerous cells as different from normal cells.
These potential anticancer health benefits also seem to translate to chamomile itself. For example, one study found that those who drank chamomile tea several times a week had a lower risk of thyroid cancer.
Protective of Brain Health
Inflammation and oxidative stress take their toll on your brain as well as the rest of your body. The exact cause of neurodegenerative diseases is still unknown, but researchers believe neuroinflammation plays a big role (particularly in Alzheimer’s).
As a powerful antioxidant, apigenin has been shown to lower inflammation and has strong neuroprotective properties. It also helps protect your brain from oxidative stress and, importantly, is able to cross the blood-brain barrier to directly reach brain cells.
Apigenin is so powerful that some researchers have concluded it “could represent a novel tool to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or slow down its progression.” Chamomile itself has shown memory-enhancing effects in animal studies and could be key to keeping your mind sharp!
Could Boost Longevity
Longevity is not a matter of taking a magical drug or finding the one secret to a longer life. It’s usually made up of many everyday practices that boost and protect your health.
But one thing we do know about longevity is that it involves health at the cellular level. Antioxidants are a key piece of this, protecting against oxidative stress right down to your cells and DNA. (DNA damage is a big contributor to aging.)
Apigenin, in particular, has shown a powerful protective ability when it comes to DNA. It had the greatest protective effect out of all the flavonoids tested in one study and had an anti-mutagenic effect, which means it helps prevent gene mutation (a frequent cause of cancer).
Yet another outstanding reason to start consuming more German chamomile!
Key Health Benefits of Chamomile for Your Skin
Protective of Collagen + Anti-Aging Effects
The antioxidants in chamomile are excellent for your skin as well as the rest of your body. They help prevent oxidative stress, which can make your skin look older, and protect collagen — one of the key anti-aging proteins in your skin.
Protecting collagen levels is very important for keeping your skin young-looking. Collagen helps to keep your skin plump and thick and holds off wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging.
In addition to its protective abilities, chamomile has also shown a potential ability to improve wound healing, which suggests it may even be able to boost collagen synthesis.
Reduces the Appearance of Redness & Inflammation
The natural anti-inflammatory power of German chamomile is very soothing for your skin. It can calm inflamed-looking skin and is frequently used to relieve inflammatory skin issues. Chamomile also has antimicrobial properties that help keep bacteria on the skin in check.
Research also shows that chamomile may have an anti-allergic effect when used in skincare. This makes it highly beneficial for sensitive and irritated skin- the only exception being those who are allergic to chamomile.
Helps Keep Skin Hydrated & Elastic
German chamomile contains a compound known as levomenol that acts as a natural moisturizer. It helps keep your skin hydrated and also smooths out skin texture. Levomenol even has the added benefit of diminishing photodamage (visible signs of aging from UV exposure) and improving elasticity!
All of this adds up to even more anti-aging health benefits when you use chamomile topically.
Top Ways to Use Chamomile
Make a Traditional Herbal Tea
There is no more traditional way to enjoy chamomile than as an herbal tea. It’s one of the easiest ways to benefit from the relaxing nature of chamomile and and has proven to be effective.
While you can buy chamomile tea bags, a better option is to simply buy the dried, organic herb. Whole herbs retain their essential oils and plant compounds much better than those that have been crushed and left to sit in pre-made tea bags.
All you need to do is use 1-3 teaspoons of dried chamomile per cup of boiling water and let it steep for 5-15 minutes. Chamomile tea will get more bitter the longer it steeps, so adjust your steeping time based on taste preference.
Try a Concentrated Extract
While chamomile tea has proven to be very effective, some studies (like those on anxiety) have used chamomile extract instead. The extract is more concentrated than the tea and can be standardized for apigenin content. It comes in both liquid and capsule form.
You may want to try the extract (choose an organic one) if you are looking for higher amounts of apigenin- or if you aren’t much of a tea drinker.
Chamomile essential oil is another way to use this herb, especially for sleep and relaxation. You can put several drops of it in a diffuser and run it in your bedroom before going to sleep. Or it can be added to a warm, stress-relieving bath along with a carrier oil or bath salts.
Chamomile oil also seems to be effective for pain relief when diluted and applied topically. One study found that it helped relieve knee pain when used this way and another found that it lessened the severity of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Apply Chamomile to Your Skin for Anti-Aging Effects
If you want to use chamomile for its skin-soothing properties, there’s no better approach than topical application. This gets the powerful compounds in chamomile directly to your skin.
And if you are looking for skincare that is focused specifically on anti-aging effects, the Age-Defying Dream Cream from Purity Woods has exactly what you’re searching for. It contains pure, 100% organic German chamomile extract to soothe and nourish dry-looking skin and help protect against visible signs of premature aging.
The Dream Cream also combines 20+ other botanicals with the chamomile extract to nourish your skin and help erase the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, and loose-looking skin. They have all gone through the rigorous process of being verified as USDA Certified Organic, which means no worries about toxins or GMOs.
Learn more about the Age-Defying Dream Cream here, and consider adding chamomile to your list of herbs to take daily because it truly is amazing!