German chamomile
Roman chamomile

Chamomile (American English) or camomile (British English; see spelling differences) (/ˈkæməˌml, -ˌml/ KAM-ə-myl or KAM-ə-meel[1][2]) is the common name for several daisy-like plants of the family Asteraceae. Two of the species are commonly used to make herbal infusions for traditional medicine, and there is some evidence that chamomile has an effect on health.[3][4][5]


The word "chamomile" derived via French and Latin from Greek χαμαίμηλον (khamaimēlon), "earth apple", from χαμαί (khamai) "on the ground" and μῆλον (mēlon) "apple".[6][7] First used in the 13th century, the spelling "chamomile" corresponds to the Latin chamomilla and Greek chamaimelon.[7] The spelling "camomile" is a British derivation from the French.[7]


Loose leaf chamomile tea

Some commonly used species include:

  • Matricaria chamomilla Often called "German chamomile" or "Water of Youth",[8]
  • Chamaemelum nobile, Roman, English or garden chamomile, also frequently used, (C. nobile Treneague is normally used to create a chamomile lawn).[9]

A number of other species common names include the word "chamomile". This does not mean they are used in the same manner as the species used in the herbal tea known as "chamomile". Plants including the common name "chamomile", of the family Asteraceae, are:

Tea and herbal products[edit]

Chamomile tea is an herbal infusion made from dried flowers and hot water.[3] Two types of chamomile used are German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).[3] Chamomile may be used as a flavoring agent in foods and beverages, mouthwash, soaps, or cosmetics.[5] When used as a herbal product, such as in tea or as a topical skin cream, chamomile is not likely to have significant health effects or major side effects.[5]


The main constituents of chamomile flowers are polyphenol compounds,[8] including apigenin, quercetin, patuletin, and luteolin.[10] Essential-oil components extracted from the flowers are terpenoids.[10] Chamomile is under preliminary research for its potential anti-anxiety properties.[8] There is no high-quality clinical evidence that it is useful for insomnia.[11]

Drug interactions[edit]

Use of chamomile has potential to cause adverse interactions with numerous herbal products and prescription drugs, and may worsen pollen allergies.[5] Apigenin, a phytochemical in chamomile, may interact with anticoagulant agents and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,[12] while other phytochemicals may adversely interact with sleep-enhancing herbal products and vitamins.[5]

Chamomile is not recommended to be taken with aspirin or non-salicylate NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), as it may cause herb-drug interaction.

"Chamomile consists of several ingredients including coumarin, glycoside, herniarin, flavonoid, farnesol, nerolidol and germacranolide. Despite the presence of coumarin, as chamomile’s effect on the coagulation system has not yet been studied, it is unknown if a clinically significant drug-herb interaction exists with antiplatelet/anticoagulant drugs. However, until more information is available, it is not recommended to use these substances concurrently."[13]

People who are allergic to ragweed (also in the daisy family) may be allergic to chamomile due to cross-reactivity.[3] Chamomile should not be used by people with past or present cancers of the breast, ovary, uterus, endometriosis or uterine fibroids.[5]

Pregnancy and breastfeeding[edit]

Because chamomile has been known to cause uterine contractions that can invoke miscarriage, pregnant mothers are advised to not consume Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).[4] Although oral consumption of chamomile is generally recognized as safe in the United States, there is insufficient clinical evidence about its potential for affecting nursing infants.[5]


The chamomile plant is known to be susceptible to many fungi, insects, and viruses. Fungi such as Albugo tragopogonis (white rust), Cylindrosporium matricariae, Erysiphe cichoracearum (powdery mildew), and Sphaerotheca macularis (powdery mildew) are known pathogens of the chamomile plant. Aphids have been observed feeding on chamomile plants and the moth Autographa chryson causes defoliation.

Use in beer and ale[edit]

Chamomile has historically been used in beer.[14][15] Unlike tea, in which only the flowers are used, the whole plant has been used. The bitter taste is useful in beer, but it was also used for medicinal purposes. Modern craft breweries and homebrewers use chamomile, and there are several hundred commercially brewed beers with chamomile.[16][17]

Historical descriptions[edit]

The 11th century part of Old English Illustrated Herbal has an illustrated entry.[18] Nicholas Culpepper's 17th century The Complete Herbal has an illustration and several entries on chamomel.[19]

In culture[edit]

In The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (in 1902), Peter is given chamomile tea after being chased by Mr. McGregor.[20]


  1. ^ Jones, Daniel (2003) [1917], Peter Roach; James Hartmann; Jane Setter (eds.), English Pronouncing Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-3-12-539683-8
  2. ^ "Chamomile". Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d "Chamomile". National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, US National Institutes of Health. September 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Roman chamomile". MedlinePlus, US National Institutes of Health. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Chamomile". 9 October 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  6. ^ χαμαίμηλον. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  7. ^ a b c "Chamomile". Online Etymology Dictionary. 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Sarris, J; Panossian, A; Schweitzer, I; Stough, C; Scholey, A (December 2011). "Herbal medicine for depression, anxiety, and insomnia: a review of psychopharmacology and clinical evidence". European Neuropsychopharmacology. 21 (12): 841–860. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2011.04.002. PMID 21601431.
  9. ^ "Camomile lawn". The Royal Horticultural Society. 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  10. ^ a b McKay, D. L.; Blumberg, J. B. (2006). "A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita L.)". Phytotherapy Research. 20 (7): 519–30. doi:10.1002/ptr.1900. PMID 16628544.
  11. ^ Leach, Matthew J.; Page, Amy T. (2015). "Herbal medicine for insomnia: A systematic review and meta-analysis". Sleep Medicine Reviews. 24: 1–12. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2014.12.003. ISSN 1087-0792. PMID 25644982.
  12. ^ Miller, LG (1998). "Herbal medicinals: selected clinical considerations focusing on known or potential drug-herb interactions" (PDF). Arch. Intern. Med. 158 (20): 220–2211. doi:10.1001/archinte.158.20.2200. PMID 9818800.[better source needed]
  13. ^ Abebe, W. (1 December 2002). "Herbal medication: potential for adverse interactions with analgesic drugs". Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. 27 (6): 391–401. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2710.2002.00444.x. ISSN 0269-4727. PMID 12472978.
  14. ^ Grieve, Maude (1931). A Modern Herbal.
  15. ^ Harrod Buhner, Stephen (1998). Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers. pp. 389–390. ISBN 978-0-937381-66-3.
  16. ^ "Chamomile Beer List". RateBeer. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Brewing Wildflower Wheat". Brewer's Friend. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Cotton MS Vitellius C III". British Library Digitised Manuscripts. p. 29.
  19. ^ Culpepper, Nicholas (1600s). The Complete Herbal.
  20. ^ Michael Castleman The New Healing Herbs: The Classic Guide to Nature's Best Medicines ... at Google Books

External links[edit]