With the world around us getting busier, it is more important than ever to allow time to switch off and to take a break from the usual stressors of the day. Many people have begun to choose more calming teas that they can enjoy in an evening to help them unwind. When people think about a relaxing tea, often they will think of chamomile. It is a very popular herbal infusion normally consumed before bed due to its relaxing properties and lack of caffeine. But there is much more to chamomile tea. It has a long history and there are multiple health benefits of chamomile tea. Let's see why chamomile tea might be made for you.
What is chamomile tea and where does come from?
Chamomile tea use dates back all the way to Ancient Egypt, where it was thought to help with colds and fevers. Further, it was used by Romans to add flavour to water based drinks. But interesting it also used in Medieval times for scenting.
Chamomile tea although labelled as a ‘tea’ is actually classed as a herb. The tiny and beautiful yellow daisy like flowers it produces are dried to infused in water to create what we could call a chamomile tea. Interestingly to make chamomile tea, there are only specific types of chamomile herb used. It is a member of Asteraceae/Compositae family and represented by two common varieties viz. German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) (1).
How does chamomile tea taste?
The word chamomile originates from Ancient Greek kamai (earth) and melon (apple). This helps to describe the taste of chamomile tea which is earthy with a slight flavour of apple. This herbal tea is very light in flavour and with a beautiful golden colour. It has a mellow flavour with a natural honey-like sweetness to it. Overall, it is a very delicate and soothing tea.
Is chamomile tea good for you and what are its health benefits?
1. Chamomile tea may help you enjoy a good night’s sleep
Chamomile tea is thought to be one of the best teas for a good sleep. Most people as a result, most closely relate chamomile tea to the relaxing properties and have a cup of chamomile tea before they go to bed. A caffeine free drink before bed in itself is thought to be relaxing but chamomile tea also has special properties to help sleep. This is linked to a compound found in the chamomile tea called apigenin which has been suggested to have relaxing sedative effects (2).
2. It can reduce symptoms of anxiety
Given that this herbal tea contains no caffeine, it is suggested to support reduced anxiety. A 2016 trial showed that in people who consumed 1500mg/day of chamomile extract for an 8-week period. It produced a clinically relevant reduction in Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) symptoms initially reported (3). A greater level of research is needed around these initial findings. But the signs are there that this may be helpful and another alternative to consider to potentially help soothe stress and anxiety.
3. There are links between chamomile tea and lower blood sugar levels
Chamomile is thought to have properties that could help to improve the regulation of blood sugar levels. One study found that when individuals chamomile tea with their meals for a period of eight weeks, they had on average lower blood sugar when compared to those who had water (4). So if you are a diabetic then sipping a chamomile tea a few times a day may have some positive health effects.
4. Your digestive issues may be reduced
Chamomile tea has been linked to reduced gut inflammation. It has been thought to help to soothe gut spasms which tend to be associated with gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders (5). Chamomile tea also contains compounds called cesquiterpene lactones. These help to stimulate the pancreas to produce specific enzymes which help to support the breakdown of food. So the calming effect of chamomile on the gut may also be helpful when you feel nervous or anxious which themselves can lead to gut related side effects.
5. Chamomile tea could boost your immune system
Looking back to Ancient Egypt, chamomile has been long associated with supporting the recovery from colds. The beautiful scent alone has been suggested to be inhaled to help to clear sinuses following infections. Further, drinking chamomile tea is thought to help soothe a sore throat with chamomile tea also being associated with anti-bacterial properties. Researchers found that drinking chamomile tea was associated with higher levels of hippurate in urine. Hippurate is a bi-product of specific broken down plant compounds, some of these are linked to increased antibacterial activity.
When can I drink chamomile tea?
Chamomile tea can be consumed at any time of the day, however many people like to enjoy it in an evening as a relaxing, caffeine free tea option before bed. It is suggested that for the best effect, a cup of chamomile tea should be enjoyed one to two hours before bed. This is enough time to help you unwind and also means you shouldn’t be disturbed with a toilet trip during the night! The perfect combination for a peaceful night’s sleep!
How can I try a cup and where to can I buy chamomile tea?
Most tea brands offer herbal chamomile tea. However, you can enjoy chamomile as a loose leaf tea or some can be bought in a tea bagged form. The best things to look out for is the quality of the chamomile itself which you can see by looking at the blend – whole delicate flowers will offer a full blend.
At WILDBOS we offer a herbal infused Mindful Moments blend. This combines chamomile with rosehip and rose petals to create a beautiful calming blend. We suggest a heaped teaspoon per cup of tea and to brew for at least five minutes. If you like it stronger though, just infuse for longer!
1. Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Rep. 2010;3(6):895-901.
2. Zick SM, Wright BD, Sen A, Arnedt JT. Preliminary examination of the efficacy and safety of a standardized chamomile extract for chronic primary insomnia: a randomized placebo-controlled pilot study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:78.
3. Keefe JR, Mao JJ, Soeller I, Li QS, Amsterdam JD. Short-term open-label chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) therapy of moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine. 2016;23(14):1699-705.
4. Rafraf M, Zemestani M, Asghari-Jafarabadi M. Effectiveness of chamomile tea on glycemic control and serum lipid profile in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Endocrinol Invest. 2015;38(2):163-70.