What is Chamomile?
Chamomile is a name given to a number of daisy-like plants, which are commonly made into chamomile tea and served with lemon or honey. Two varieties, Roman chamomile and German chamomile, are used for herbal treatments but the latter has more common use in the United States. German chamomile or matricaria recutita is also the subject of the majority of scientific researches and can be found almost anywhere except in the UK where Roman chamomile or chamaemelum nobile is better known.
In the United States, chamomile has been used extensively as an herbal tea to treat anxiety and panic attacks. It is also used to treat other health problems such as skin infections, stomach upset, sleep problems, colic, diaper rash and wound healing.
Chamomile has been made into various forms to make it more convenient to use. These include tea, liquid extract, capsule and topical cream.
Why Chamomile is better than Prescription Drugs for Anxiety
The usual anxiety disorder treatments are through the use of antidepressants and anti anxiety medicines. However, there is much concern about the side effects that such drugs cause. Among the unpleasant effects that you can feel when using an anti anxiety drug are lightheadedness, dizziness, dry mouth and memory loss. It also causes drowsiness, which affects your ability to drive a car or use machinery. In women, the use of antidepressants has been observed to cause higher incidence of stroke and suicide. On the contrary, the use of chamomile to treat anxiety has been done with little or no side effects. The most common complaint of those who have used the herb to treat problems associated with anxiety is stomach upset with vomiting and nausea, but this is not a common problem. There are also people who are allergic to the herbal supplement but this should be expected since the herb is related to ragweed, a plant that has been identified to cause allergies in people. Those who have seasonal allergies and hay fevers should be cautious when using chamomile. If allergic reactions develop such as wheezing, chest tightness, rash, itching and hives, the use of chamomile should be stopped immediately.How Chamomile Works
How exactly chamomile work for anxiety is still not clear. What is known is that the herb contains chrysin, which is a flavonoid that has been observed to alleviate anxiety symptoms in rats. In people, chamomile has been and effective treatment against insomnia. As of today, there is still no medical data that supports the use of chamomile in children. In adults though, the recommended dosages have already been established. In capsule form, 400 to 1600 mg of chamomile should be used every day in divided doses. For liquid chamomile extract, one to four ml should be taken three times a day. In tincture form, the herb can be taken three to four times a day in 15 ml dosages. Chamomile tea users should drink from one to four cups a day. For added safety, always read the label first before using chamomile against anxiety disorder. Consulting a health care provider first is also recommended.
Who Should Avoid Chamomile
If you are one of the following, chamomile use in the treatment of anxiety should be avoided.
• If you are allergic to the daisy family of plants such as ragweed, daisy, marigold and chrysanthemum
• If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking a drug that increases the threat of bleeding.
• If you are nursing or pregnant, the use of chamomile should be avoided since it is a uterine stimulant. The herb may also cause abortion.
Chamomile Interaction with Other Medications
At present, there is still not enough research done for fully evaluating the interaction of chamomile with other medications. However, several potential interactions are possible when taking the herb with a medication or dietary supplement. Some of the most common ones are the following:
• Risk of bleeding is increased if chamomile is combined with blood thinning medications such as naproxen and ibuprofen. Chamomile use should also be avoided a couple of weeks before and after surgery.
• Drowsiness when the herb is combined with narcotics, alcohol, antidepressants barbiturates and benzodiazepines.
• Health risks if chamomile is combined with medications affecting blood pressure and sugar level
If you are not sure whether it is safe for you to ingest chamomile, try it as potpourri. This can easily be done by mixing the following ingredients: a cup each of lemon leaves, lavender flowers, rosemary, a couple of teaspoon orris root powder, half a cup thyme, one teaspoon coriander seed, a couple of drops lavender oil and of course, a cup of chamomile. Mix all of the ingredients and put the mixture in a thin bag made of fabric or an old stocking. Place the potpourri near your bed to let the anxiety relieving potential of its aroma give you relaxation and a sound sleep.