Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Traditional Indications

Chamomile is anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, nervine, stomachic, tonic, and vasodilator. In particular it is an excellent herb for insomnia, anxiety, menopausal depression, loss of appetite, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, colic, aches and pains of flu, migraine, neuralgia, teething, vertigo, motion sickness, conjunctivitis, inflamed skin, urticaria etc. Chamomile is particularly useful as a stomachic, nervine and sedative for young children, especially when they are teething. The flowers contain various volatile oils including proazulenes. Upon steam distillation these proazulenes produce chamazulene, this is remarkably anti-allergenic and is useful in the treatment of asthma and hay fever. The flowers are sometimes added to cosmetics as an anti-allergenic agent. Chamomile is used for. It is also known as an aromatic with a traditional application in morning sickness. (1)

Pharmacognosy

Approximately 120 secondary metabolites have been identified in chamomile, including 28 terpenoids and 36 flavonoids. The principal components are the terpenoids α-bisabolol and its oxide azulenes including chamazulene and acetylene derivatives are best preserved in an alcoholic extract or tincture. It also contains farnesene and α-pinene. Roman chamomile contains up to 0.6% of sesquiterpene lactones of the germacranolide type, mainly nobilin and 3-epinobilin. Both α-bisabolol, bisabolol oxides A and B and chamazulene or azulenesse, farnesene and spiro-ether quiterpene lactones, glycosides, hydroxycoumarins, flavanoids (apigenin, luteolin, patuletin, and quercetin), coumarins (herniarin and umbelliferone), terpenoids, and mucilage are considered to be the major bio-active ingredients. Other major constituents of the flowers include several phenolic compounds, primarily the flavonoids apigenin, quercetin, patuletin as glucosides and various acetylated derivatives. Among flavonoids, apigenin is the most promising compound. (2)

Chamomile is a novel and selective COX-2 inhibitor with anti-inflammatory activity. Active constituents chamazulene, alpha-bisabolol, and apigenin have been shown to possess the highest anti-inflammatory activity against pro-inflammatory agents. (3)

Apegenin a natural aromatase inhibitor. (4) Synthetic aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are successful in the treatment of postmenopausal oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.

Chamomile is also used in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, peptic ulcers and hiatus hernia. Favourable results from the use of chamomile and other herbal and plant products in inflammatory bowel disease have been determined from evidence derived from experimental animal studies. (5, 6)

Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind. Chamomile has long been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. Chamomile as an anti-inflammatory agent has been found to inhibit inducible nitric oxide synthase expression by blocking RelA/p65 activity. (7) Another study found that chamomile treatment inhibited COX-2 enzyme activity In addition, chamomile caused reduction in LPS-induced COX-2 mRNA and protein expression similarly to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, sulindac. Inducible cyclooxygenase (COX-2) has been implicated in the process of inflammation and carcinogenesis. (3)

A randomised clinical trial found that long-term German chamomile treatment was safe and significantly reduced moderate-to-severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) symptoms. (8) Another study concluded that chamomile may have clinically meaningful antidepressant activity that occurs in addition to its previously observed anxiolytic activity. (9)

 

1. PFAF. Matricaria recutita. 2019.
2. Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Molecular medicine reports. 2010;3(6):895-901.
3. Srivastava JK, Pandey M, Gupta S. Chamomile, a novel and selective COX-2 inhibitor with anti-inflammatory activity. Life sciences. 2009;85(19-20):663-9.
4. Balunas MJ, Su B, Brueggemeier RW, Kinghorn AD. Natural products as aromatase inhibitors. Anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry. 2008;8(6):646-82.
5. Triantafillidis JK, Triantafyllidi A, Vagianos C, Papalois A. Favorable results from the use of herbal and plant products in inflammatory bowel disease: evidence from experimental animal studies. Annals of gastroenterology. 2016;29(3):268-81.
6. Menghini L, Ferrante C, Leporini L, Recinella L, Chiavaroli A, Leone S, et al. An Hydroalcoholic Chamomile Extract Modulates Inflammatory and Immune Response in HT29 Cells and Isolated Rat Colon. Phytotherapy research : PTR. 2016;30(9):1513-8.
7. Bhaskaran N, Shukla S, Srivastava JK, Gupta S. Chamomile: an anti-inflammatory agent inhibits inducible nitric oxide synthase expression by blocking RelA/p65 activity. International journal of molecular medicine. 2010;26(6):935-40.
8. Mao JJ, Xie SX, Keefe JR, Soeller I, Li QS, Amsterdam JD. Long-term chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) treatment for generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized clinical trial. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology. 2016;23(14):1735-42.
9. Amsterdam JD, Shults J, Soeller I, Mao JJ, Rockwell K, Newberg AB. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may provide antidepressant activity in anxious, depressed humans: an exploratory study. Alternative therapies in health and medicine. 2012;18(5):44-9.