(NaturalHealth365) You may find it hard to believe when we say some of the most common ailments can be treated right at home with the use of simple ingredients in your pantry. For many years now, chamomile – a white flower with a bright yellow center – has been consumed as a ‘cure-all’ for fever, pain, stress, and even colds.
Today, chamomile tea is one among the world’s most popular beverages consumed to soothe an upset stomach and boost immunity.
Chamomile tea has a rich history – as a natural medicine
Chamomile is one of the most well-documented medicinal plants in the world – with a variety of healing applications. Its historical use dates back at least 5000 years with predominant application in primary care treatment. Dry powder of chamomile flower was used for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, mild astringent and healing properties.
It is used in external treatments such as wounds, eczema, and bruises and also in internal use for various bacterial infections of the oral cavity, gums and respiratory tracts. Plus, it’s well known for its use as a digestive relaxant, flatulence treatment and colic relief in children.
What exactly are the healing components in chamomile?
Chamomile is identified to contain nearly 28 terpenoids and 36 flavonoid compounds. Among them are the bioactive components – coumarins (herniarin, umbelliferone), flavonoids (apigenin, patuletin, luteolin and quercetin), terpenoids and mucilage – which are responsible for the striking benefits of chamomile. Although most of these names are too complicated to pronounce or remember – they do confer defined health benefits like stress relief, decreasing depression, alleviating pain and muscle spasms.
What does science tell us about chamomile?
Clearly, science has proven that chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting effects and offers a great ability to calm the digestive system. Thanks to the flavonoid components – chamomile tea inhibits prostaglandin E(2) release and reduces COX-2 enzyme activity.
A publication from American Chemical Society reported that chamomile tea consumption increased urinary hippurate (a breakdown metabolite of phenolic compounds) and urinary glycine levels (nerve relaxant). According to researchers, this explains the enhanced immune boosting power of chamomile tea, along with its ability to relieve pain.
What is the best way to consume chamomile?
A herbal infusion or in other words preparing a tea from chamomile is one of the best ways to consume this medicinal plant. The tea can be prepared from fresh/dried flowers or from convenient tea bags. But, bear in mind, that any herbal infusion is best effective when taken in small doses over the course of the day.
For practical purpose, it is easier to prepare a big pot of tea and refrigerate it for later use. Consuming about 3 – 4 cups in a day is sufficient to bring about desired results.
Another important fact to remember is that herbal teas work differently than conventional pain medications, in the sense that their effects are gradual but effective. Chamomile, however can be considered an exception as they work instantaneously – especially to soothe an upset digestive system and calm your nerves.
Just a few things to consider before drinking chamomile tea
If you are allergic to ragweed or members of the Compositae family, such as chrysanthemums, avoid consuming this plant. If you are already on a medication, it is best to consult with your doctor before consuming chamomile. Chamomile interacts with drugs such as aspirin, platelet inhibitors, anticoagulants, anti-depressants, propranolol (beta-blocker) and others.
This is important because drug interaction can lead to internal bleeding, and increase the risk of toxicity. The great demand for chamomile in the world market has also built a large black market for the same. You need to be vigilant – as some chamomile has been adulterated with close members of chamomile family.
Chamomile tea represents one of the easiest ways to reduce inflammation, relax the body and improve immune function. You can even enhance the health benefits (and taste) by adding a little fresh, lemon juice or raw honey. So, the next time you feel ‘run down’ – try a cup of tea and see what happens next.
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1. American Chemical Society. “Chamomile Tea: New Evidence Supports Health Benefits.”Science Daily, 4 Jan. 2005. Web. 28 Sep. 2013.
2. Astin JA, Pelletier KR, Marie A, Haskell WL. Complementary and Alternative medicine use among elderly persons: One year analysis of Blue Shield medicare supplement. J Gerontol. 2000;55:M4–M9
3. Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chmaomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Report. 2010 November 1; 3(6): 895–901.
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