Is Chamomile Tea Good for Stress and Anxiety?

Written by: Pard Bharaj

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Time to read 7 min

Image of Pard, the Author

Author: Pard Bharaj

I am a dedicated researcher with nearly a decade of experience in investigating health best practices. My journey in the health and wellness field has been driven by a passion for understanding and sharing the most effective ways to maintain and improve health. Over the years, I have delved into a wide range of topics, constantly seeking out the latest research and insights. My commitment is to provide well-researched, accurate, and trustworthy information to help readers make informed decisions about their health.

"Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea! How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea."

Sydney Smith

Introduction:


Chamomile tea, widely used in herbal medicine for its calming properties, comes from the daisy-like flowers of the Chamomile plant. It has been a popular remedy for centuries, addressing various health issues. Today, it is especially valued for its potential to manage and alleviate stress and anxiety symptoms . 


This article examines the effectiveness of chamomile tea in addressing these conditions, reviewing both its traditional applications and current research findings on its soothing effects.

Chamomile Tea Interesting Facts and Statistics: 


  1. Popularity: Chamomile tea is one of the most popular herbal teas worldwide. According to market research, millions of people choose chamomile tea for relaxation and sleep aid.

  2. Symbolic Meaning: In ancient cultures, chamomile was associated with the sun and worship due to its healing abilities, symbolising power and light.

  3. Impact on Digestive Health: Historically, chamomile tea has been used to treat various gastrointestinal disturbances, including gas, indigestion, diarrhoea, anorexia, motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting.

  4. Ancient Use:  Chamomile was used by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks for its medicinal properties, particularly for ailments such as fevers, muscle spasms, and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.

Is Chamomile Tea Good for Stress and Anxiety - Yes it is! 

1.  Binding to GABA Receptors: 


One way chamomile tea helps to alleviate stress and anxiety is by binding to GABA receptors in the brain. GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and reduce nervous system activity. When chamomile compounds bind to GABA receptors, they mimic the effects of GABA, leading to a calming sensation.


Chamomile contains several compounds that contribute to this effect, including  apigenin, luteolin, and bisabolol. These compounds have been shown to interact with GABA receptors, although the exact mechanisms are still being studied.


In simpler terms, when you drink chamomile tea, the compounds in the tea interact with certain receptors in your brain that are involved in calming your nerves. This interaction mimics the effects of a natural chemical in your brain called GABA, which helps you feel more relaxed and less stressed .

A note reading "Calm!" pinned to a corkboard with a green pushpin.

2. Promotes Better Sleep:


As mentioned earlier, chamomile tea enhances sleep by binding to GABA receptors, similar to its role in reducing stress and anxiety. Beyond its direct effects, good quality sleep is  crucial  for mitigating feelings of stress and anxiety. 


Sleep allows the brain to recharge and recover from the day's stressors. It regulates the hormones that affect our mood, including reducing cortisol levels that can spike due to prolonged stress. By promoting deeper and more restful sleep, chamomile tea helps maintain these hormone levels, supporting overall mental health and resilience against anxiety.


In simple terms, drinking chamomile tea before bedtime not only helps you fall asleep faster but also deepens your sleep, which is vital for refreshing your mind and lowering stress and anxiety levels the following day.

A man wearing glasses and a shirt with a floral pattern is relaxing in a hammock, cuddling a sleeping Cocker Spaniel, surrounded by trees.

3. Antidepressant Effect:


Chamomile tea is also gaining recognition for its potential antidepressant effects. While it's not a substitute for professional treatment, the natural compounds in chamomile, especially apigenin, may contribute to mood regulation and a decrease in depressive symptoms.


These antidepressant properties are believed to be linked to chamomile's ability to modulate neurotransmitter activity within the brain, including serotonin and dopamine, which are critical in regulating mood. This modulation helps to enhance feelings of wellbeing and combat depression.


Furthermore, as we've discussed, chamomile's impact on sleep and stress reduction also plays a significant role in its overall mood-enhancing capabilities. Better sleep and lower stress levels can significantly improve mood and are essential components of effective depression management.

The words "FEEL GOOD" written in the sand with a wave washing over part of the text.

4. Reducing Cortisol Levels:


Another key way chamomile tea aids in stress relief is by potentially  reducing cortisol levels. Cortisol is commonly known as the  "stress hormone"  because it's released in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration. High levels of cortisol can lead to various health problems, including anxiety and sleep disturbances.


The calming compounds in chamomile, such as  apigenin , may help lower cortisol levels, thereby reducing the body's stress response. While the exact process is still under research, it's thought that these compounds help moderate the body's production and response to cortisol, aiding in relaxation and a sense of calm.


Simply put, drinking chamomile tea might help bring down the levels of cortisol in your body, which are elevated during times of stress. This can lead to a decrease in overall stress and anxiety, making you feel more relaxed and possibly improving your sleep.

A "STRESS FREE ZONE" sign pinned to a corkboard above a desk with a red mug and a closed laptop, promoting a calm workspace environment.

5. Holistic Relaxation:


The simple act of preparing and consuming tea can be a therapeutic experience in itself. The warmth of the tea, paired with its flavour, can provide comfort if you try to be present while making it. This ritualistic aspect of tea drinking creates an opportunity to pause and unwind, which is essential for maintaining balance.


Engaging in such calming activities has well-documented psychological benefits. It can help lower anxiety levels and improve overall emotional well-being by offering a break from stress. In essence, the process of making and enjoying a cup of chamomile tea serves as a form of holistic relaxation that benefits both the mind and body.

A person in traditional attire performing a tea ceremony, skillfully handling a bamboo ladle over a steaming iron teapot, symbolizing mindfulness and cultural tradition in tea preparation.

"Chamomile tea soothes the nerves. Relaxation ensues. Sleepy eyes."

Jordana Grosso

Cautions and Considerations:


While chamomile tea is widely regarded as safe and beneficial for most people, there are several important cautions and considerations to keep in mind:


  1. Allergic Reactions: Individuals who are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family, which includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies, might also be allergic to chamomile. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include skin rashes, throat swelling, shortness of breath, or anaphylaxis in severe cases.

  2. Interactions with Medications: Chamomile tea can interact with certain medications. For example, due to its effect on the central nervous system, it can potentially enhance the sedative effects of drugs like benzodiazepines and narcotics. It might also interact with blood thinners and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by enhancing their effects on blood clotting.

  3. Surgical Considerations: Because chamomile may affect blood clotting, it's advisable to stop drinking chamomile tea at least two weeks before any scheduled surgery to prevent excessive bleeding.

  4. Effects During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Pregnant women and nursing mothers should consult their healthcare provider. It has been advisable not to drink chamomile tea in large quantities.

References and Further Reading:

1. Investigation effect of oral chamomilla on sleep quality in elderly people in Isfahan: 

Published in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion investigated the effects of Chamomile on 77 elderly participants. Results showed a significant improvement in sleep quality in the intervention group after the chamomile treatment


2. Long-term chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) treatment for generalized anxiety disorder: 

This study published in Phytomedicine, explored the effects of long-term chamomile use in treating Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and found that it can reduce GAD symptoms, its effect on preventing relapse required further research. 


3. A narrative review on the potential therapeutic benefits of chamomile in the acute care setting:

Effectiveness on Stress/Anxiety: The narrative review highlights that chamomile may be beneficial for treating anxiety and depression among inpatients, suggesting its potential as a safe and effective herbal treatment to alleviate these conditions in a hospital environment.


4. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future:

Chamomile has anxiolytic properties due to apigenin, a flavonoid that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, alleviating symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).


5. Therapeutic efficacy and safety of chamomile for state anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, and sleep quality:

Chamomile shows significant improvements in symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and enhances sleep quality, though results for state anxiety and insomnia are inconclusive.


6. The effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people:

The use of chamomile extract can significantly improve sleep quality among elderly people" - A study demonstrated that chamomile extract substantially enhances sleep quality in elderly individuals, presenting a viable, safe alternative to conventional hypnotic medications often associated with adverse effects.


7. A Comprehensive Study of Therapeutic Applications of Chamomile:

The study in Pharmaceuticals reviews chamomile's broad therapeutic effects, highlighting its anti-microbial, anti-viral, analgesic, anti-cancer properties, and benefits for central nervous system disorders, such as anxiety and sleep issues.


8. Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women:

These types of studies generally measure the severity of sleep disruption and depressive symptoms before and after the intervention, using validated scales like the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to quantify changes. The hypothesis would be that chamomile tea, known for its calming effects, could help alleviate these symptoms by promoting better sleep and mood regulation

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