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German chamomile
Roman chamomile

Chamomile or camomile (/ˈkæmɵml/ KAM-ə-meel or /ˈkæmɵml/ KAM-ə-myl)[1] is the common name for several daisy-like plants of the family Asteraceae[2] that are commonly used to make a herb infusion that can help to induce sleep. Because chamomile has been known to cause uterine contractions that can invoke miscarriage, the U.S. National Institutes of Health recommends that pregnant and nursing mothers not consume Roman chamomile (also known as Chamaemelum nobile).[3] People who are allergic to ragweed (also in the daisy family) may also be allergic to chamomile, due to cross-reactivity.[4][5] However, there is still some debate as to whether people with reported allergies to chamomile were actually exposed to chamomile and not a plant of similar appearance.[2][6]


The word "chamomile" derives, via French and Latin, from Greek χαμαίμηλον (khamaimēlon), i.e. "earth apple", from χαμαί (khamai) "on the ground" and μῆλον (mēlon) "apple".[7][8] The more common British spelling "camomile," is the older in English, while the spelling "chamomile" more accurately corresponds to the ultimate Latin and Greek source.[9] The spelling camomile more accurately corresponds to the more immediate derivation from French.[10]


Some commonly-used species include:

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:

Medical use and pharmacology[edit]

Major chemical compounds present within chamomile include apigenin and alpha-bisabolol.[2][11] Other compounds in chamomile include: sesquiterpenes, terpenoids, flavonoids, coumarins such as herniarin and umbelliferone, phenylpropanoids such as chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, flavones such as apigenin and luteolin, flavanols such as quercetin and rutin, and polyacetylenes.[2][12]

Apigenin has demonstrated chemopreventive effects against cancer cells in the laboratory,[13] while alpha-bisabolol has been shown to have antiseptic properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and reduces pepsin secretion without altering secretion of stomach acid.[12] Chemical compounds present within chamomile bind to GABA receptors, modulate monoamine neurotransmission, and have neuroendocrine effects.[11] Umbelliferone is fungistatic.[12] Coumarin compounds in chamomile such as herniarin and umbelliferone may have blood-thinning properties, and apigenin and other compounds may interact with medications causing drug-drug interactions.[6]

Chamomile has been used for inflammation associated with hemorrhoids when topically applied.[12] There is Level B evidence that chamomile possesses anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties and could be used to treat stress and insomnia.[11] In 2009, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania concluded the first controlled clinical trial of chamomile extract for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The results suggest chamomile may have modest anxiolytic activity in patients with mild to moderate GAD, although the results have not since been replicated.[14] Chemical components of chamomile extract have demonstrated anti-inflammatory,[2][4] antihyperglycemic,[2] antigenotoxic,[15] and anticancer properties[2] when examined in vitro and in animal studies.[16]

Cosmetic applications[edit]

Chamomile is frequently added to skin cosmetics to serve as an emollient, and for its anti-inflammatory effects. Chamomile is also often used to enhance the color of blonde hair.[4]


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.[12] Aphids have been observed feeding on chamomile plants and the moth Autographa chryson causes defoliation.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "chamomile". Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Srivastava, JK; Shankar, E; Gupta, S (November 2010). "Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future". Molecular medicine reports 3 (6): 895–901. doi:10.3892/mmr.2010.377. PMC 2995283. PMID 21132119. 
  3. ^ "Roman chamomile: MedlinePlus". MedlinePlus. National Institutes of Health. 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2014-08-30. 
  4. ^ a b c Baumann, LS (2007). "Less-known botanical cosmeceuticals". Dermatologic therapy 20 (5): 330–342. doi:10.1111/j.1529-8019.2007.00147.x. PMID 18045358. 
  5. ^ National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2012). "Chamomile". National Institutes of Health. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Chamomile". NYU Langone Medical Center. 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  7. ^ χαμαίμηλον. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  8. ^ camomile. Online Etymology Dictionary
  9. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, online edition, entry "camomile | chamomile"
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c d 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. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Singh, O; Khanam, Z; Misra, N; Srivastava, MK (January 2011). "Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.): An overview.". Pharmacognosy reviews 5 (9): 82–95. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.79103. PMC 3210003. PMID 22096322. 
  13. ^ Patel, Deendayal; Shukla, Sanjeev; Gupta, Sanjay (2007). "Apigenin and cancer chemoprevention: Progress, potential and promise (Review)". International Journal of Oncology 30 (1): 233–45. doi:10.3892/ijo.30.1.233. PMID 17143534. 
  14. ^ Amsterdam JD, Li Y, Soeller I, Rockwell K, Mao JJ, Shults J (2009-08-29). "A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder.". Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 29 (4): 378–82. doi:10.1097/JCP.0b013e3181ac935c. PMID 19593179. 
  15. ^ Hernández-Ceruelos, A; Madrigal-Bujaidar, E; De La Cruz, C (2002). "Inhibitory effect of chamomile essential oil on the sister chromatid exchanges induced by daunorubicin and methyl methanesulfonate in mouse bone marrow". Toxicology Letters 135 (1–2): 103–110. doi:10.1016/S0378-4274(02)00253-9. PMID 12243869. 
  16. ^ "Chamomile (German) | Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center". 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 

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