Friday, June 11, 2010


Chamomile or Chamo-mile (pronounced KAM-ə-meel or KAM-ə-myl or KHAMO-Mile; from Greek χαμαίμηλον, chamaimēlon, "earth-apple" from χαμαί chamai "on the ground" and μῆλον mēlon "apple", for their applelike scent), is a common name for several daisy-like plants. These plants are best known for their ability to be made into a tea which is commonly used to help with sleep and is often served with either honey or lemon. Chrysin, a specific flavonoid found in chamomile, has been shown to be anxiolytic in rodents and is believed to be at least partially responsible for chamomile's reputation as a sleep aid. Chamomile is the national flower of Russia. It has been used as a dye to produce a green color.

Medicinal and alternative therapy uses
The MedlinePlus database maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, lists over 100 separate ailments and conditions which chamomile has been traditionally used, for which it lists only a few as having undergone scientific study on animals and/or humans. Moreover, through the MedlinePlus database, these agencies explicitly warn, "although chamomile is widely used, there is not enough reliable research in humans to support its use for any condition." Of the dozens of traditional claims listed, this database explicitly lists only fifteen conditions in which any animal or human scientific testing has ever been done. Of these fifteen, the NIH also rated the scientific conclusions on fourteen as having "unclear scientific evidence" to recommend either for or against the use of chamomile as a treatment for such conditions (cardiovascular conditions, common cold, diarrhea in children, eczema, gastrointestinal conditions, hemorrhagic cystitis, hemorrhoids, infantile colic, mucositis from cancer treatment, quality of life in cancer patients, open penile sores, skin inflammation, sleep aid, vaginitis, and wound healing). It also ranked one negatively, as having "fair scientific evidence against" such a use (post-operative sore throat/hoarseness due to intubation). In short, according to these two agencies, there remains insufficient scientific evidence to produce a medical recommendation for any medicinal or therapeutic use of chamomile in extract, ointment or infusion form.

MedlinePlus and The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine further caution of rare allergic reactions, atopic dermatitis (skin rash), drowsiness or sedation, the potential to stimulate the uterus, leading to abortion and the unevaluated safety of breastfeeding while taking chamomile, although some sources do not contraindicate breastfeeding. Interactions with other herbs and medicines has not been well studied for chamomile.

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