By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
Need a hand with stress? A steamy mug of chamomile tea can take the edge off holiday anxiety and promote sleep.
While herbalists have been promoting it as an
insomnia treatment for years, science lies behind it, according to research from the Integrative Medicine Department at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
“Chamomile may benefit those with anxiety disorder and insomnia,” reports the health institution. In fact, they caution that chamomile shouldn’t be taken with a sedative because it may intensify the effects.
That explains a lot to me. Ten years ago I drank a blend of relaxation tea purchased from a home vendor. I needed the relaxation because my young sons and I were packing for vacation and the ex-husband was uber-cranky during these times.
Next thing you know I was so stuffy I could barely breathe. Nothing would touch the congestion but Benadryl. Usually it makes me a little sleepy. Let’s just say I slept through the entire weekend. Talk about enhanced sleeping effects. Not a good idea.
Despite its natural ingredients, I was allergic to the chamomile in the tea. It seems, if you’re allergic to ragweed, you’ll likely suffer these results from chamomile.
If you’re not … Sloan Kettering reports:
“Several studies have used chamomile extracts in animals to test their effects. They show that substances in chamomile can kill bacteria, reduce inflammation, calm muscle spasms, inhibit the growth of polio and herpes viruses and cancer cells, and prevent the growth of ulcers. Several chemicals found in chamomile leaves are known to inhibit substances in the body that cause an inflammatory response. Apigenin, a compound isolated from chamomile, binds to brain cells in the same areas as well-known depressant drugs, which could explain chamomile’s sedative effects.
Small clinical trials show that chamomile may have a modest effect on generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, and in healing skin lesions after colostomy, a surgical procedure that brings one end of the large intestine out through the abdominal wall.”
Looking for the science behind herbal medicine and a trusted source for integrative medical information, check out the hospital’s About Herbs information.
It is the policy of The Herb Society of America not to advise or recommend herbs for medicinal or health use. This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any particular medical or health treatment.