Chamomile is an ancient folk remedy administered throughout history for a range of health benefits, but most especially for its calming, sedative effect on the body.
Since the time of ancient Egypt to the modern age, chamomile tea has been used to soothe stress and anxiety, ease digestion and promote better sleep quality. Now, researchers are investigating the myriad healing properties of chamomile, with an emphasis on stress and anxiety relief.
Does Chamomile Actually Calm You Down?
Clinical interest in chamomile for anxiety has risen as more patients are seeking complementary and alternative medicine for mental health.
Chamomile shows high potential, as it contains a flavonoid called apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors and boosts GABAA receptors, which are responsible for calming the body before sleep.
Apigenin may also block the MAO enzyme, increasing the availability of monoamines like serotonin. Chamomile also includes the flavonoid Chrysin, which has shown anti-anxiety effects in animal studies.
Clinical Research on Chamomile for Anxiety
A number of studies have shown that chamomile can significantly inhibit activity found in Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
In one trial, patients taking chamomile experienced positive improvements in all outcome measures for GAD, including psychological wellbeing. And in a placebo-controlled trial on participants with co-morbid anxiety and symptoms of depression, chamomile showed considerable antidepressant and anti-anxiety activity.
A trial in 2016 observed the effects of long-term chamomile treatment with an aim to prevent the relapse of GAD. Participants taking chamomile reported a reduction in GAD symptoms. Those who continued chamomile treatment for a further 26 weeks showed an improvement in psychological well-being, improved blood pressure, and went longer without relapse. These results led the researchers to conclude that chamomile is a safe treatment that can significantly reduce GAD symptoms.
Although more research is required, chamomile has proven itself throughout the ages to be a safe, soothing remedy that eases digestion, soothes the nerves, and induces a much-needed state of relaxation and zen.
Chamomile for Better Sleep Quality
A trial on sleep and anxiety found that a sleepless night can raise anxiety up to 30%. Even small reductions in sleep resulted in higher levels of anxiety. The results also showed that a full night of deep sleep drastically lowers anxiety levels, meaning quality sleep protects the brain from anxiety.
How to take Chamomile for Anxiety
Chamomile comes in many forms today, including ready-made teabags, gel, oil extract, creams, lotions, and herbal sleeping pills.
You can also channel the ancients by making your own infusion with dried flower herbs. Simply add 2-3 teaspoons to a press or infuser and steep for 5-10 minutes and enjoy!
There’s no wrong way to take chamomile tea, but we recommend a cup before bed to relax your body before sleep.
How much Chamomile should you take for Anxiety?
There is currently no standard dose for chamomile, but it’s recommended not to go beyond the following doses.
Chamomile doses for adults:
Capsule: 400-1600 mg per day (divided doses)
Tincure: 15 ml 3-4 times a day
Extract: 1-4 ml, 3 times a day
Tea: 1-4 cups per day
Potential Side Effects of Chamomile
Chamomile is generally very safe and mild, but there are a few risk factors to watch out for.
Avoid if you:
- Have allergies to ragweed and chrysanthemum
- Are taking blood-thinning medications or Coumadin (warfarin)
- Are two weeks before or after surgery
- Have a hormone-sensitive condition made worse by exposure to estrogen
Alert your doctor if you experience vomiting, allergic reactions, or skin irritation.
Note: We never recommend discontinuing medication without consulting your doctor, especially for mental health concerns. If you are suffering from extreme anxiety or symptoms of depression, please alert a medical professional immediately.