How is Chamomile Used For Anxiety?

Characteristics, Dosage, Interactions, Side Effects and Risks

Woman holding cup with chamomile tea
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Chamomile, a flower in the daisy family, is a dietary supplement popular for a variety of uses including sleep problems, anxiety, digestive upset, mouth sores, skin infections, wound healing, colic and diaper rash.

Chamomile Characteristics

German chamomile (matricaria recutita) is the focus of most scientific research and is available almost everywhere except for England where Roman chamomile (chamaemelum nobile) is popular.

In North America, chamomile is most often found prepared as an herbal tea to aid in sleep.

In general, not enough scientific research has been conducted to support any of the many common uses of chamomile, but several studies have shown it to be effective in reducing anxiety and perhaps even acting as an antidepressant. Chamomile has been used for thousands of years, including by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans.

How to Take Chamomile

Chamomile is available as capsules, liquid extracts, tinctures, teas, and topical creams, among other preparations.

Dosage Guidelines for Chamomile

You should always read the product label for dosing instructions and consult a healthcare provider if necessary.

For adults, the recommended doses are:

  • Capsules: 400 to 1600 mg in divided doses daily
  • Liquid extract: 1 to 4 ml three times daily
  • Tincture: 15 ml three to four times daily
  • Tea: 1 to 4 cups of tea per day

    There is not enough scientific evidence to recommend use of chamomile in children.

    Who Shouldn’t Take Chamomile

    The following groups of people should avoid the use of chamomile:

    • those with allergies to plants in the daisy family such as aster, chrysanthemum, ragweed, marigold and daisy
       
    • those with bleeding disorders and those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding
       
    • pregnant and nursing women because chamomile may act as a uterine stimulant or lead to the fetus being aborted

    Medication Interactions With Chamomile

    In general, more research is needed to fully evaluate medication interactions for chamomile. There are a number of potential interactions with medications and other dietary supplements. Before using chamomile you should consult with a medical professional about potential interactions with other products or medications you are using.

    Some common interactive effects include:

    • drowsiness when combined with benzodiazepines, barbituates, narcotics, anti-seizure medications, some antidepressants and alcohol
    • increased risk of bleeding if combined with blood thinners, ibuprofen or naproxen
    • risk if combined with medications that affect blood sugar or blood pressure
    • may interfere with the effectiveness of hormone therapy because chamomile is similar to estrogen

    Given the potential for drowsiness, it is not recommended to drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how chamomile affects you.

    Side Effects of Chamomile

    Reported side effects of using chamomile include:

    • serious allergic reactions including anaphylaxis, throat swelling, and shortness of breath
       
    • skin allergic reactions such as eczema
       
    • vomiting when taken in large doses

    Risks Associated with Chamomile

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the production of herbs and supplements. Most herbs and supplements are not thoroughly tested, and there is no guarantee regarding the ingredients or safety of the products.

    Although a number of potential side effects and interactions are presented here, the risks associated with chamomile have not been adequately studied.

    Other Supplements for Social Anxiety Disorder

    There are other herbs and supplements you can explore to help tame the effects of social anxiety disorder. They include:

    Sources:

    National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Chamomile. Accessed September 5, 2008.

    Medline Plus. Chamomile. Accessed September 5, 2008.

    "German chamomile." University of Maryland Medical Center (2015).

    Amsterdam, J. D., Shults, J., Soeller, I., Mao, J. J., Rockwell, K., & Newberg, A. B. (2012). Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) May Have Antidepressant Activity in Anxious Depressed Humans - An Exploratory Study. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine18(5), 44–49.

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