Flower Power: Chamomile – The Unsung Hero of Teas

When we think of the healing power of tea we often turn to green tea, white tea or even black tea as the superheroes. There is an unsung hero among popular teas and it has to do with the little white and yellow daisy-like flower called chamomile. As gentle and dainty as the flower appears, don’t be fooled – chamomile is a powerhouse when it comes to healing properties.

Chamomile has been used medicinally worldwide for centuries. Chamomile is actually a source of vitamins and minerals including vitamins B1, B5, vitamin A, folate, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and sodium, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin A.

With a known calming quality it is popular to drink chamomile tea after dinner and it is also used as a gentle sedative during stressful times and to induce a state of calm. Newer research suggests that the healing powers of chamomile may also include the prevention of certain cancers including thyroid cancer and prostate cancer. Drinking chamomile tea is also associated with an overall decreased risk of death from all causes in Hispanic American women over age 65.

Chamomile’s healing properties are well documented. The flowers have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and digestive properties as well as other healing benefits.  Chamomile flowers can be placed in a vaporizer and inhaled for respiratory tract support and inflammation. Recent data on chamomile tea consumption in Hispanic women over 65 years old showed an overall 29% decreased risk of death from all causes compared to non-chamomile tea drinkers. That is quite significant and unfortunately, this effect was not demonstrated in men.

Flavonoids (plant compounds) found in fruits and vegetables and chamomile, have been associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer in men. And new research further supports the regular consumption of chamomile tea as it may help to keep the thyroid gland healthy and reduce the risk of thyroid cancer (in men and women). In this study out of Greece, chamomile tea drinkers (two to six times per week) were on average 70% less likely to develop defects in their thyroid. And if you continue your chamomile tea habit for 30 years or more, the percentage goes up to 80% reduced risk of thyroid problems.

Drinking chamomile tea has a calming effect and may help to ease stress. As such it may help make falling asleep at night a little bit easier. It also can help ease menstrual cramps. 

Chamomile tea makes the perfect after dinner "nightcap" or "digestif." As it helps you wind down your evening, it may also help ease indigestion and prevent gas and bloating. It is naturally caffeine-free. 

Anyone allergic to plants in the ragweed family will want to avoid chamomile. Also, anyone on warfarin (Coumadin) or cyclosporine should avoid chamomile due to possible interactions. Talk to your doctor before using chamomile medicinally.

 

Source:

Riza E, Linos A, Petralias A, de Martinis L, Duntas L, Linos D. The effect of Greek herbal tea consumption on thyroid cancer: a case-control study. Eur J Public Health. 2015 Apr 4.

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