Orally, German chamomile is used for flatulence, travel sickness,
nasal mucous membrane inflammation, allergic rhinitis, nervous
diarrhea, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
fibromyalgia, restlessness, and insomnia. It is also used for
gastrointestinal (GI) spasms, colic, inflammatory diseases of the
GI tract, GI ulcers associated with nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and alcohol consumption, and as
an antispasmodic for menstrual cramps.
Topically, German chamomile is used for hemorrhoids; mastitis;
leg ulcers; skin, anogenital, and mucous membrane inflammation;
and bacterial skin diseases, including those of the mouth and
gums. It is also used topically for treating or preventing
chemotherapy- or radiation-induced oral mucositis.
As an inhalant, German chamomile is used to treat inflammation
and irritation of the respiratory tract.
In foods and beverages, German chamomile is used as flavor
In manufacturing, German chamomile is used in cosmetics, soaps,
No concerns regarding safety, available studies validate this
statement, when used orally in amounts commonly found in foods.
German chamomile has Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status
in the US.1
No concerns regarding safetywhen used orally, short-term. There
is some evidence that German chamomile can be used safely for up
to 8 weeks.2,3,4 The long-term safety of German
chamomile in medicinal doses is unknown, when used topically;
avoid applying it near the eyes.5
Children: No concerns regarding safety when used orally and
appropriately, short-term. Preliminary clinical research also
suggests that a specific multi-ingredient product containing
fennel 164 mg, lemon balm 97 mg, and
chamomile 178 mg (ColiMil, Milte Italia SPA) is safe in infants
when used for up to a week.6
Pregnancy and Lactation: Insufficient reliable information
available; avoid using.
Colic. A clinical trial shows that breast-fed infants with colic
who are given a specific multi-ingredient product containing
fennel 164 mg, lemon balm 97 mg, and German chamomile 178 mg
(ColiMil, Milte Italia SPA) twice daily for a week have reduced
crying times compared to placebo.6
Dyspepsia. A specific combination product containing German
chamomile (Iberogast, Medical Futures, Inc) seems to improve
symptoms of dyspepsia. The combination includes German chamomile
plus peppermint leaf, clown's mustard plant, caraway, licorice,
milk thistle, celandine, angelica, and lemon balm.7,3
A meta-analysis of studies using this combination product
suggests that taking 1 mL orally three times daily over a period
of 4 weeks significantly reduces severity of acid reflux,
epigastric pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting compared to
Oral mucositis. Using a German chamomile oral rinse (Kamillosan
Liquidum) might help prevent or treat mucositis induced by
radiation therapy and some types of chemotherapy.2
German chamomile oral rinse seems to prevent or treat mucositis
secondary to radiation therapy and some types of chemotherapy
including asparaginase (Elspar), cisplatin (CDDP, Platinol-AQ),
cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar), daunorubicin (DaunoXome),
doxorubicin (Adriamycin, Rubex), etoposide (VP-16, Etopophos,
VePesid, Toposar), hydroxyurea (Hydrea), mercaptopurine (6-MP,
Purinethol), methotrexate (MTX, Rheumatrex), procarbazine (MIH,
Mutlane), and vincristine (VCR, Oncovin, Vincasar) (2). However,
the rinse doesn't seem to be better than placebo
for preventing fluorouracil (5-FU)-induced oral
Dermatitis. Applying German chamomile cream topically does not
seem to prevent dermatitis induced by cancer radiation
Mechanism of Action:
The applicable part of German chamomile is the flowerhead. Active
constituents of German chamomile include quercetin, apigenin, and
coumarins, and the essential oils.5
German chamomile might have anti-inflammatory effects.
Preliminary research suggests it can inhibit the pro inflammatory
enzymes. Other constituents may inhibit histamine related to
The constituent(s) responsible for the sedative activity of
German chamomile are unclear. Preliminary research suggests that
extracts of German chamomile might inhibit morphine dependence
and withdrawal.11 Other preliminary research suggests
that German chamomile flower extract taken orally might have an
antipruritic effect.12 Preliminary research suggests
that German chamomile blocks slow wave activity in the small
intestine, which could slow peristaltic movement.13
Orally, German chamomile tea can cause allergic reactions
including severe reactions in some patients.14
Interactions with Herbs & Supplements:
HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS WITH SEDATIVE PROPERTIES: Theoretically,
concomitant use with herbs that have sedative properties might
have additive effects which needs to be taken into
Benzodiazepines: Consult a Medical Herbalist
CNS Depressants: Consult a Medical Herbalist
Warfarin (Coumadin): Consult a Medical Herbalist
Interactions with Foods:
Interactions with Lab Tests:
Creatinine: Chronic ingestion of German chamomile for two 2 weeks
can reduce urinary creatinine output. This effect may be
prolonged for up to two weeks after discontinuing German
chamomile. The mechanism for this effect is unclear.4
Interactions with Diseases or Conditions:
Surgery: Avoid from 2 weeks prior to elective surgery.
Oral: For dyspepsia, a specific combination product containing
German chamomile (Iberogast, Medical Futures, Inc) and several
other herbs has been used in a dose of 1 mL three times
For colic in infants, a specific multi-ingredient product
containing fennel 164 mg, lemon balm 97 mg, and German chamomile
178 mg (ColiMil, Milte Italia SPA) twice daily for a week has
Topical: For chemotherapy- or radiation-induced oral mucositis,
an oral rinse made with 10-15 drops of German chamomile liquid
extract in 100 mL warm water has been used three times
German chamomile is an annual herb found throughout Europe and in
portions of Asia. German chamomile has a mild apple-like scent.
The name "chamomile" is Greek for "Earth apple."
Specific References: CHAMOMILE
1. FDA. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,
Office of Premarket Approval, EAFUS: A food additive database.
Available at: vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/eafus.html.
2. Carl W, Emrich LS. Management of oral mucositis
during local radiation and systemic chemotherapy: a study of 98
patients. J Prosthet Dent 1991;66:361-9.
3. Madisch A, Holtmann G, Mayr G, et al. Treatment of
functional dyspepsia with a herbal preparation. A double-blind,
randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Digestion
4. Wang Y, Tang H, Nicholson JK, et al. A metabonomic
strategy for the detection of the metabolic effects of chamomile
(Matricaria recutita L.) ingestion. J Agric Food Chem
5. Hormann HP, Korting HC. Evidence for the efficacy
and safety of topical herbal drugs in dermatology: part I:
anti-inflammatory agents. Phytomedicine 1994;1:161-71.
6. Savino F, Cresi F, Castagno E, et al. A randomized
double-blind placebo-controlled trial of a standardized extract
of Matricariae recutita, Foeniculum vulgare and Melissa
officinalis (ColiMil) in the treatment of breastfed colicky
infants. Phytother Res 2005;19:335-40.
7. Holtmann G, Madisch A, Juergen H, et al. A
double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial on the effects
of an herbal preparation in patients with functional dyspepsia
[Abstract]. Ann Mtg Digestive Disease Week 1999 May.
8. Melzer J, Rosch W, Reichling J, et al.
Meta-analysis: phytotherapy of functional dyspepsia with the
herbal drug preparation STW 5 (Iberogast). Aliment Pharmacol Ther
9. Fidler P, Loprinzi CL, O'Fallon JR, et al.
Prospective evaluation of a chamomile mouthwash for prevention of
5-FU-induced oral mucositis. Cancer 1996;77:522-5.
10. Maiche AG, Grohn P, Maki-Hokkonen H. Effect of
chamomile cream and almond ointment on acute radiation skin
reaction. Acta Oncol 1991;30:395-6.
11. Gomaa A, Hashem T, Mohamed M, Ashry E. Matricaria
chamomilla extract inhibits both development of morphine
dependence and expression of abstinence syndrome in rats. J
Pharmacol Sci 2003;92:50-5.
12. Kobayashi Y, Nakano Y, Inayama K, et al. Dietary intake
of the flower extracts of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita
L.) inhibited compound 48/80-induced itch-scratch responses in
mice. Phytomedicine 2003;10:657-64.
13. Storr M, Sibaev A, Weiser D, et al. Herbal extracts
modulate the amplitude and frequency of slow waves in circular
smooth muscle of mouse small intestine. Digestion 2004;70:257-64.
14. Subiza J, Subiza JL, Hinojosa M, et al. Anaphylactic
reaction after the ingestion of chamomile tea; a study of
cross-reactivity with other composite pollens. J Allergy Clin
15. Viola H, Wasowski C, Levi de Stein M, et al. Apigenin,
a component of Matricaria recutita flowers, is a central
benzodiazepine receptors-ligand with anxiolytic effects. Planta
16. Avallone R, Zanoli P, Puia G, et al. Pharmacological
profile of apigenin, a flavonoid isolated from Matricaria
chamomilla. Biochem Pharmacol 2000;59:1387-94.