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Two distinct plants are known as chamomile and are used interchangeably: German and Roman chamomile. Although distantly related botanically, they both look like miniature daisies and are traditionally thought to possess similar medicinal benefits.
Over a million cups of chamomile tea are drunk daily, testifying to its good taste, at least. Chamomile was used by early Egyptian physicians for fevers, and by ancient Greeks, Romans, and Indians for headaches and disorders of the kidneys, liver, and bladder.
The modern use of chamomile dates back to 1921, when a German firm introduced a topical form. This cream became a popular treatment for a wide variety of skin disorders, including eczema, bedsores, skin inflammation caused by radiation therapy, and contact dermatitis (eg, poison ivy).
Effect of Chamomile on Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Chamomile, like many of the herbs listed for the treatment of GAD, is said to produce sedative effects, which can be helpful for persons suffering from anxiety. Though no specific studies have yet shown that this to be true, you can experiment by enjoying some chamomile tea and noticing it's physiological and psychological effects - many people find that chamomile can help calm them.
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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.
- Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physicians' Guide to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag; 1998:256.
- 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.
- 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.
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