Chamomile for sleep

160px-Kamomillasaunio_(Matricaria_recutita)Chamomile tea has been used for sleep for thousands of years. Studies seem to back up its calming effect. Chamomile leaves are best known for their ability to be made into an infusion which is commonly used to help with sleep and is often served with honey or lemon, or both.

Chamomile: Latest views

According to the UMMC, the most popular uses for chamomile in the United States are to help treat anxiety and insomnia. There have been few studies done on humans, but animal studies indicate that low doses of chamomile might relieve anxiety, while higher doses promote sleep. One Japanese study of rats found that chamomile extract helped the rats fall to sleep just as quickly as rats that got a dose of benzodiazepine (a tranquilizing medication).

Using chamomile

Today chamomile is popular in many countries, including Europe. In the United States and Australia, chamomile is best known as a relaxing tea. Other common uses of chamomile are to help treat anxiety, sleeplessness, stomach pain, and gas. Some beauty products, healing creams and ointments also have chamomile added.

Tip: “The trick is to make sure you are brewing it properly. Use two or three tea bags. Then put a lid on the pot to keep oils in the water — so you get the medicinal effects of the tea.”

Side effects of chamomile

Experts do however agree that better research of chamomile is needed.  This said it’s commonly agreed that chamomile tea is safe usually with no side effects. Because chamomile can cause uterine contractions which can lead to miscarriage, the U.S. National Institutes of Health recommends that pregnant and nursing mothers should not consume chamomile. Individuals allergic to ragweed (also in the daisy family) may also be allergic to chamomile due to cross-reactivity. However, there is still some debate as to whether individuals with reported allergies to chamomile were truly exposed to chamomile or to a plant of similar appearance.

According to BBC News, Maureen Robertson, from the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine, says: “It’s a very safe herb to use.”

Drugs.com says: “Animal studies report low toxicity with oral ingestion of chamomile.” The website warns that “Allergic reactions to chamomile are commonly reported.”

According to MedicineNet.com, when used as directed, chamomile is not expected to cause serious side effects. In the unlikely event you have an allergic reaction, see a doctor straight away. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to chamomile can include a:

  • rash
  • itching
  • swelling
  • dizziness
  • trouble breathing

If you notice any side effects, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

The NCCAM warns that some people have eaten or come into contact with chamomile and then had anaphylaxis as a result. This is an uncommon but life-threatening allergic reaction.

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