Environmental Nutrition: Chamomile’s calming properties may be real
There’s nothing quite like a cup of hot chamomile tea to soothe frayed nerves. In fact, dried chamomile flowers (Matricaria recutita) were used as far back as Roman times for their calming effects. Today, an increasing number of studies indicate there may be some true relaxing benefits in a fragrant cup of chamomile tea.
Chamomile’s effect on mental state: What’s the magic relaxing ingredient in chamomile? A yellow compound called apigenin, one of the chamomile’s phenolic flavonoids, appears to be the most promising component. A study published in the May 2005 issue of the Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin looked at this ingredient and linked it with sleep- and tranquility-enhancing effects.
A study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology reviewed the effects of chamomile in patients diagnosed with mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder. The 57 participants received either chamomile capsules containing 220 mg of extract standardized with 1.2 percent apigenin, or placebo, a chamomile-scented capsule with lactose. Judged against placebo, chamomile was associated with a greater reduction in standardized test scores for severe anxiety. Further, an exploratory study that found a significant reduction in standardized scores of depression for chamomile versus placebo was published in the September-October 2012 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.
The bottom line: Will your next cup of chamomile tea release you from anxiety?
Although conventional drug therapies for depression and anxiety have helped many, lots of people don’t care to try these medications for many reasons, including potential side effects and cultural or financial concerns.
Thus, chamomile may be a promising “natural” calming agent to add to your pantry.
However, while evidence shows that the bioactive ingredients in Matricaria recutita have the capability to calm you down, whether there are enough of these phytochemicals in one or two tea bags is still to be determined. More rigorous testing of chamomile remedies needs to take place so that we fully understand its efficacy, as well as the dosage that will be beneficial.
Still, you surely can’t minimize the mental health power of taking a few moments for yourself while sitting down and sipping the warm grassy flavors of a cup of chamomile tea.