Chamomile is an annual herb found in southern Europe and
northern Asia. It grows along roadsides and fields. The plant produces a round,
furrowed, and branched stem which grows one to two feet in height. The leaves
are pale green, incised, and sessile, with thread-shaped leaflets. The flower
heads consists of yellow disk flowers and white petal-shaped ray flowers that
are bent downward to make the disk flowers more prominent. The medicinal part
is the flower.
| Amino Acids
| Azulene compounds
|| Fatty acids
| Plant acids
|| Volatile oils
* For definition of some of the above terms
see the dictionary section of this book.
| Vitamin B Complex
|| Vitamin C
PROPERTIES AND USES
Anodyne - a substance which relieves pain, usually
with accompanied sedation.
Anthelmintic - an agent which destroys or expels
Antispasmodic - an agent which relieves or prevents
spasms, usually of the smooth muscles. Barbiturates and valerian are examples
Calmative - a substance that has a soothing or
Carminative - an agent which assists in expelling
gas from the intestines.
Diaphoretic - an agent which increases
Stimulant - an agent that temporarily increases
activity or physiological processes. Stimulants may be classified according to
the organ upon which they act; for example, an intestinal stimulant is that
which stimulates the intestines.
Tonic - an agent which strengthens or tones.
Chamomile helps promote thyroxine which helps rejuvenate
the texture of the hair and skin, and also promotes mental alertness. It is
also a soothing sedative and is useful internally for babies and children as an
aid in colds, stomach trouble, colitis, sleeplessness, and as a gargle, and
externally for eczema and inflammation. As a tea it is used for nerves and
menstrual cramps. It has been recommended for persons who cannot tolerate
caffeine, such as those with peptic ulcers, hypertension, and heart
It is recognized by the orthodox medical profession,
especially in France and Spain, as a valuable medicine for the young. Doctors
in an eastern United States hospital gave this herb, as a tea, to heart
patients who had not responded to sleep-inducing drugs. Of the 12 patients, 10
immediately fell asleep.
Chamomile contains chamazulene, which has antiallergenic
and anti-inflammatory properties. Some species of chamomile contain alkaloids
which could induce spasms, but the substance does not have a significant
biological effect at the concentrations obtained in a normal human dose of
chamomile tea. However, such teas are usually used over a long period of time,
during which a cumulative effect might result.
Chamomile can produce severe shock in individuals allergic
to ragweed pollen. Chamomile should be taken in moderate doses; large doses can
cause vomiting. Chamomile can cause contact dermatitis or external skin rashes.
Chamomile tea has a marked hypnotic effect.
DRUG PRECAUTIONS AND
There are no known interactions. Possible interactions
relate to the antiarrhythmic agent quinidine, which may increase the
hypoprothrombonemic effect of Chamomile. Conversely, the anti-inflammatory
activity of Chamomile can be seriously inhibited by phenobarbital as well as by
certain other sedatives and hypnotics, such as chloral hydrate and meprobamate.
This is also true of beta-adrenergic blocking agents such as propranolol.
Vitamin K, menadione, and menadiol sodium diphosphate may antagonize the
anticoagulant effect of coumarins.
Although the coumarin content of chamomile is not high at
normal usage levels, it is important to note that coumarins can affect the
action of almost any drug. It should also be noted that the presence of
azulenes in chamomile may interfere with the actions of bradykinin, histamine,
acetylcholine, and serotonin.
To the extent that chamomile's action depends on the
presence of cholinergic substances, its action will be affected by the decrease
in cholinergic-receptor stimulation produced by anticholinergics.
In the absence of other hard data, it may still be assumed
that observable interactions may occur between the many central nervous system
drugs and the psychoactive principles in chamomile.
There is evidence to show that combining bactericidal and
bacteriostatic agents will lower the effectiveness of the bacteriostatic agent.
However, how this finding applies to herbal anti-infectives is still