What You Should Know About Chamomile

cup of chamomile tea with a jar of dried chamomile flowers

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Chamomile, also known as Matricaria recutita or Chamomilla nobile, is a plant used since ancient times to address common concerns like stomachaches, diarrhea, and sleeplessness. It’s most often prepared as a tea, but chamomile is sometimes made into oils and tinctures. It’s also often an added ingredient in cosmetics.

There are two main types of chamomile: German chamomile and Roman chamomile. German chamomile is the type normally used in teas, whereas Roman chamomile is more often used in essential oil form. Roman chamomile is more likely to trigger allergies and cause side effects. 

Benefits of Chamomile

Although chamomile is a well-known herb and is strongly associated with better digestion and improved sleep, the research on its proven benefits is limited. Many studies on chamomile’s benefits use the ingredient  alongside other herbs, making it challenging to see the effects of chamomile alone. Still, there is some good evidence that chamomile has positive health benefits.

May Reduce Anxiety

Chamomile is often associated with a calming effect, and there may be some truth to that claim. For example, one study found that long-term supplementation with chamomile significantly reduced moderate to severe symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, a condition of ongoing worry that impacts daily life. The researchers also saw improvement in overall mental well-being. 

May Help With Stomach Upset

Many people turn to chamomile when they are experiencing an upset stomach, and research suggests that chamomile can help in this way. It may also help with diarrhea in children and colic (frequent or excessive crying) in babies. 

However, most studies have only looked at chamomile for digestive issues when it was combined with other herbs, making it difficult to determine whether chamomile itself had positive effects on digestion.

May Help With Diabetes and Blood Sugar Control

There is some evidence that chamomile can help people who have diabetes or who need to keep their blood sugar under control. 

One study found that chamomile tea consumed three times a day after meals had positive effects on people with diabetes. They experienced decreased concentrations of A1C (average glucose over the past three months), serum insulin levels, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

May Help With Cancer

Chamomile may help combat and treat cancer. One study found that drinking chamomile tea several times a week could help prevent thyroid cancer as well as other thyroid conditions. 

Chamomile has antioxidant properties that may make it helpful in cancer treatments. Antioxidants fight against free radicals, which are molecules that cause cell damage in the body and could lead to or worsen diseases like cancer. 

People going through cancer treatment have also used chamomile to treat mouth sores, a common side effect of treatment.

May Help With Skin Healing

Chamomile is often used topically to soothe damaged skin. Researchers have found some evidence that chamomile’s anti-inflammatory properties help with conditions like eczema. 

Other skin conditions often treated with chamomile include diaper rash, simple wounds, bruises, and burns, as well as sore nipples during breastfeeding.

However, there are few long-term studies regarding the benefits of using chamomile topically.

Chamomile for Sleep

People often brew a warm cup of chamomile tea before bed to help them fall asleep. Unfortunately, there’s little evidence to prove that chamomile is beneficial for sleep. A review of studies found insufficient evidence that chamomile helped with insomnia. However, another small study found that chamomile helped with sleep among postpartum parents.

How to Take Chamomile

The most popular way to consume chamomile is by drinking the plant as a tea. But there are other ways to prepare chamomile. It can be used as an essential oil and in capsule form. Some people might consume chamomile flowers as food, such as a salad ingredient or as a salad dressing.

Chamomile  is also used in many cosmetic products, including: 

  • Shampoos
  • Soaps
  • Lotions
  • Detergents
  • Perfumes
  • Sunscreens
  • Mouthwash
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste  


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate herbs and so does not set safe dosages of chamomile. However, consuming the amount of chamomile found in tea is typically thought to be safe. 

Some research has used German chamomile extract in doses of 220-1,100 milligrams daily over the course of eight weeks.  

If you are considering ingesting chamomile in a form other than tea, especially in large amounts, it’s best to check in with your healthcare provider first.

Is Chamomile Safe?

Chamomile is usually considered safe, especially when consumed as a tea. Both the Roman and German types of chamomile are on the FDA’s list of foods that are generally recognized as safe as a spice, seasoning, or flavoring. However, less is known about its preparation in other more potent forms, such as in an essential oil.

When taken orally, Roman chamomile may pose risks to certain individuals, including people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. For pregnant people, it may increase the risk of miscarriage.

Chamomile  may cause allergic reactions in people allergic to ragweed or other related plants.

Potential Drug Interactions

There is little information about how chamomile may interact with other drugs or medicines. 

Some people have experienced adverse effects consuming chamomile while taking blood thinners such as warfarin (sold under brand names like Jantoven, Coumadin). Other negative effects have been reported  by people  taking chamomile and cyclosporine (sold under brand names like Gengra and Neoral), which is a medication used in organ transplant recipients. 

It’s possible that chamomile may interact with other medications. Make sure to always speak to your healthcare provider before taking a new herbal supplement.

What to Look For 

Because herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA, it can be difficult to determine the quality of any supplement you are purchasing. Therefore, it can be helpful to purchase a product that has been tested by a third party. This means an outside organization has tested the product for ingredient amounts, composition, and any contaminants. 

Usually products tested by a third party will have a label with the testing organization’s seal.. According to the FDA, third party organizations include consumerLab.com, NSF International, and U.S. Pharmacopeia.

Can You Have Too Much Chamomile?

There is very little recent information on chamomile dosing and what the  upper limit may be to avoid  over-consumption. 

Drinking the amount of chamomile in a cup of tea is considered safe.

The effects of consuming large quantities of more concentrated chamomile, such as in pill or extract form, are not clear. Speak to your healthcare provider before consuming large amounts of chamomile, and stop taking it if you experience any side effects.

Side Effects of Chamomile

 Most people who consume chamomile in common forms like teas do not experience negative side effects. 

Side effects are rare but may include: 

  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Diarrhea
  • Allergic reaction

People who are allergic to plants that are in the same family as chamomile (ragweed, marigolds, daisies, chrysanthemums) are more likely to experience an allergic reaction. 

A Quick Review

Chamomile is a plant that is often  used to address common issues like upset stomachs and insomnia. Although widespread research is lacking around the effectiveness of chamomile, there is evidence that it may help in these ways, as well as in other areas, such as blood sugar control and skin healing.

Regardless of how effective it is, chamomile is considered generally safe and has few side effects. Consuming chamomile in highly concentrated forms has not been studied, so it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider if you’re considering starting to take it.

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17 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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