Do you enjoy a little chamomile tea before bedtime? If so, you're not alone, as this herb has a long reputation for encouraging a restful sleep. The benefits of chamomile go way beyond helping you snooze, however. In fact, this herb is as soothing for the skin as it is for the spirit.
What is Chamomile?
Chamomile is a common name for several daisy-like plants in the family Asteraceae. It grows to about three feet tall and blooms in June and July with small fragrant yellow and white flowers. It's easy to grow and you may see it in fields and gardens, as well as along roadsides and other drier areas.
Chamomile herbal tea is made from the flowers, and has long been used to cure many ailments. The name is said to mean “earth apple.”
Internal Health Benefits of Chamomile
Historically, chamomile was used to soothe digestive ailments, bring down a fever, calm nervous complaints, and ease asthma. More recent scientific studies have indicated that chamomile has benefits in many areas:
Soothes the stomach
Because of its antispasmodic properties, chamomile can help calm and soothe stomach and intestinal cramps, even those caused by PMS. It's also said to help relieve excessive gas and bloating, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and nausea.
Calms the mind
Chamomile's soothing nature makes it the perfect tea for unwinding at the end of a long day and getting ready for bed.
Boosts the immune system
A 2005 study found that after people drank five cups of chamomile tea daily for two weeks, they showed signs of a stronger immune system, which the researchers said could explain why the tea helps the body fight off colds and infections.
Chamomile's Benefits to the Skin
Researchers are excited not only about chamomile's health benefits, but its potential in skin care. Many active ingredients in chamomile are powerful, including the flavonoids apigenin, luteolin, and quercetin, and the volatile oils including alpha-bisabolol and matricin.
These constituents all contribute to chamomile's antioxidant properties. Overall? Chamomile is calming and soothing.
Applied topically, chamomile oil is known to temporarily calm occasional red, dry, and irritated skin.
Like most herbs and natural extracts, chamomile has antioxidants that help protect the skin from environmental stressors and reduce the appearance of aging.
Baby and fragile skin care
Because chamomile is so soothing, it's appropriate for using on fragile skin, sensitive skin or even on baby's skin.
In any product, chamomile can impart soothing and calming effects. It is a good addition to cleansers, and its antioxidant effects are perfect in anti-aging formulas.
Wherever you find it, you can be sure that chamomile will help your skin to emerge calmer and healthier than before.
Ogata-Ikeda I, et al., “Cytotoxic action of bisabololoxide A of German chamomile on human leukemia K562 cells in combination with 5-fluorouracil,” Phytomedicine 2011 Mar 15;18(5):362-5, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20863677.
American Chemical Society (2005, January 4). Chamomile Tea: New Evidence Supports Health Benefits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 10, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2005/01/050104112140.htm.
University of Maryland Medical Center, “German Chamomile,” http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/german-chamomile-000232.htm.
eVitamins, “What is Chamomile?” http://www.evitamins.com/encyclopedia/assets/nutritional-supplement/chamomile/how-it-works.