Chamomile (American English) or camomile (British English; see spelling differences) ( KAM-ə-myl or KAM-ə-meel) is the common name for several daisy-like plants of the family Asteraceae. Two of the species are commonly used to make herb infusions thought to have medicinal uses, although there is no high-quality evidence they are effective.
The word "chamomile" derives, via French and Latin, from Greek χαμαίμηλον (khamaimēlon), i.e. "earth apple", from χαμαί (khamai) "on the ground" and μῆλον (mēlon) "apple". The more common British spelling "camomile," is the older one in English, while the spelling "chamomile" corresponds to the Latin and Greek source. The spelling camomile is a derivation from the French.
Some commonly used species include:
- Matricaria chamomilla (also known as Water of Youth'), German chamomile or wild chamomile, the most commonly used species
- Chamaemelum nobile, Roman, English or garden chamomile, also frequently used, (C. nobile ‘Treneague’ is normally used to create a chamomile lawn).
A number of other species' common names include the word "chamomile". This does not mean they are used in the same manner as the species used in the herbal tea known as "chamomile." Plants including the common name "chamomile," of the family Asteraceae, are:
- Anthemis arvensis, corn, scentless or field chamomile
- Anthemis cotula, stinking chamomile
- Cladanthus mixtus, Moroccan chamomile
- Cota tinctoria, dyer's, golden, oxeye, or yellow chamomile
- Eriocephalus punctulatus, Cape chamomile
- Matricaria discoidea, wild chamomile or pineapple weed
- Tripleurospermum inodorum, wild, scentless or false chamomile
Chamomile tea is an herbal infusion made from dried chamomile flowers and hot water. Two types of chamomile used are German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).
Chamomile is under preliminary research for its potential anti-anxiety properties. Chemical compounds present within chamomile include numerous polyphenols which have unknown effects in humans.
Apigenin and other compounds may interact with medications causing drug-drug interactions, some of the possible interactions include those with antiplatelet agents, anticoagulant agents, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Apigenin was found to interact with antiarrhythmic agents and antihypertensive agents in animal research. Other interactions include those against sedative agents, antibiotic agents, and antianxiety agents.
While chamomile exhibits some anti-inflammatory effects by itself, it is not recommended that it be taken concurrently with Aspirin or non-salicylate NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) as it is unknown if a clinically significant herb-drug interaction exists.
"Chamomile consists of several ingredients including coumarin, glycoside, herniarin, flavonoid, farnesol, nerolidol and germacranolide. Despite the presence of coumarin, as chamomiles effect on the coagulation system has not yet been studied, it is unknown if a clinically significant drug-herb interaction exists with antiplatelet/anticoagulant drugs. However, until more information is available, it is not recommended to use these substances concurrently."
People who are allergic to ragweed (also in the daisy family) may be allergic to chamomile due to cross-reactivity.
Pregnancy / Lactation
Because chamomile has been known to cause uterine contractions that can invoke miscarriage, pregnant and nursing mothers are advised to not consume Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).
The chamomile plant is known to be susceptible to many fungi, insects, and viruses. Fungi such as Albugo tragopogonis (white rust), Cylindrosporium matricariae, Erysiphe cichoracearum (powdery mildew), and Sphaerotheca macularis (powdery mildew) are known pathogens of the chamomile plant. Aphids have been observed feeding on chamomile plants and the moth Autographa chryson causes defoliation.
In The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (in 1902), the author refers to chamomile tea given to Peter after being chased by Mr. McGregor.
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