Chamomile helps with anxiety, sleeplessness and depression
by Celeste M. Smucker, MPH, PhD
(NaturalNews) Anxiety and insomnia are health concerns which may appear together and are often also linked to depression. These three health issues have a significant impact on people’s lives and on our national health care economy. Within any 12 month period, 18% of adults suffer from anxiety, while nearly 29% will do so at some time during their life. Similarly, as much as 30% of the population may suffer from some form of insomnia, including a high percentage of those individuals diagnosed as depressed.
Annual economic costs are significant and range from estimates of $15 billion for medical care to as much as $150 billion in lost productivity. While medical interventions are common, there are a variety of natural solutions including chamomile, a common herb which is inexpensive and readily available with minimal side effects.
Chamomile Tames Anxiety
While traditional healers have long recommended chamomile for anxiety, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania were some of the first to examine this relationship scientifically. In a 2009 study, the authors compared scores from standardized tests designed to measure generalized anxiety disorder or GAD. Over a period of eight weeks, one group received a placebo while the other took pharmaceutical grade chamomile capsules. Subjects were then tested to measure changes in symptoms of anxiety during this time. Those who took chamomile enjoyed a reduction in anxiety symptoms and the changes were termed “clinically meaningful and statistically significant.”
Chamomile is a Great Sleep Remedy
Most of us are familiar with chamomile as a soothing tea that promotes relaxation and feelings of drowsiness at bedtime; its effectiveness is possibly due to its mild sedative action. While researchers have not confirmed a link between chamomile and sleep in humans, there are animal studies which do support a relationship. For example, a Japanese study using sleep-disturbed rats found chamomile worked as well as a tranquilizer in helping them fall asleep. Chamomile also has anti-inflammatory properties and may promote sleep by helping to reduce swelling caused by inflammation associated with allergies.
Chamomile May Indirectly Impact Depression
In an article about depression and insomnia which appeared in the Journal of Affective Disorders, the authors concluded that if you are diagnosed with insomnia your risk of also being diagnosed with depression in the next one to three years is very high. Of course anxiety is also strongly associated with depression. As many as 85% of depressed individuals were found to be anxious according to a study reported at the consumer mental health site, Healthyplace.com. The frequency of anxiety and insomnia during depression suggests that chamomile may be helpful for alleviating some of its symptoms as well.
Chamomile’s Long Lasting Effects
Unlike some supplements which are only effective for a few hours, chamomile seems to stay in your system for a relatively long time. A 2005 study reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry evaluated the urine of volunteers who drank chamomile tea daily for two weeks. They found elevated levels of hippurate, an anti-inflammatory, and glycine, which helps soothe muscle spasms. Two weeks after the volunteers stopped drinking chamomile, levels of these elements were still measurable.
Chamomile is readily available in capsule form and as a tea in most grocery and health food stores. However, proceed with caution if ragweed causes you to sniffle and sneeze. Chamomile is in the same family and could cause a similar allergic reaction.