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Insomnia and Chamomile

Chamomile is an annual flowering plant which grows in various parts of Europe and temperate Asia. It has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy for numerous health problems, including sleep disorders, anxiety, gastrointestinal symptoms and skin problems. In the US, chamomile is popularly known as an ingredient of herbal tea. It is also available commercially as capsule and tablets and marketed for its mild sedative effects.

Chamomile has a long history of medicinal use in Europe. There are several plants going by the name chamomile, but the species commonly used as natural health remedies are German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). Chamomile teas and extracts provide relief for many health problems including insomnia, anxiety, fever and headache. Tea is made from the dried leaves and flowers of the chamomile plant. You can also find chamomile tinctures and capsules in health food stores.

Effect of Chamomile on Insomnia

Certain components of chamomile have muscle and nerve-calming properties. One of the compounds present in the chamomile is called apigenin which is thought to promote mild sedation. Chamomile helps in reducing nervous activity in the evenings, allowing you to fall asleep with more ease.

Read more details about Chamomile.

How to Use Chamomile

Sipping chamomile tea before bedtime helps calm your nerves and help you sleep better.

For commercial preparations of chamomile, the usual dosage are as follows:

  • Capsules/tablets- 400 to 1,600 milligrams per day in divided doses liquid extract (1:1 in 45% alcohol)-1 to 4 milliliters three times daily
  • Tincture(1:5 in alcohol)-15 milliliters three to four times per day

Safety Issues

Chamomile is listed on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list.

Reports that chamomile can cause severe reactions in people allergic to ragweed have received significant media attention. However, when all the evidence is examined, it does not appear that chamomile is actually more allergenic than any other plant. 1 The cause of these reports may be products contaminated with "dog chamomile," a highly allergenic and bad-tasting plant of similar appearance.

Chamomile also contains naturally occurring coumarin compounds that might act as "blood thinners" under certain circumstances. There is one case report in which it appears that use of chamomile combined with the anticoagulant warfarin led to excessive "blood thinning," resulting in internal bleeding. 2 Some evidence suggests that chamomile might interact with other medications as well through effects on drug metabolism, but the extent of this effect has not been fully determined. 3 Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with liver or kidney disease has not been established, although there have not been any credible reports of toxicity caused by this common beverage tea.

Interactions You Should Know About

If you are taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) , heparin , clopidogrel (Plavix) , ticlopidine (Ticlid) , or pentoxifylline (Trental) , you should avoid using chamomile as it might increase their effect. This could potentially cause problems.

References

  1. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physicians' Guide to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag; 1998:256.
  2. Segal R, Pilote L. Warfarin interaction with Matricaria chamomilla. CMAJ. 2006;174:1281-1282. Canadian Medical Association Journal website. Available at: http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/174/9/1281. Accessed April 28, 2006.
  3. Budzinski JW, Foster BC, Vandenhoek S, et al. An in vitro evaluation of human cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibition by selected commercial herbal extracts and tinctures. Phytomedicine. 2000;7:273-282.

Meletis, C., Barker J. Herbs and nutrients for the mind: a guide to natural brain enhancers. Praeger Publisher. 2004

Wood, M The book of herbal wisdom: using plants as medicine. North Atlantic Books. 2007

Barceloux, D., Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs.

John Wiley & Sone. 2008

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