Author: elisa fontana
Date: 13/02/2012



Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind, is still popular today and probably will continue to be used in the future because it contains various bioactive phytochemicals that could provide therapeutic effects.

The Latin term "Matricaria", which is derived from "mater" (mother), refers to the fact that this herb was used to cure gynecological problems.

Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. 2010

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.): An overview. 2011

A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita L.). 2006

Extraction, Characterization, Stability and Biological Activity of Flavonoids Isolated from Chamomile Flowers. 2009


The dried flowers of chamomile contain many terpenoids and flavonoids contributing to its medicinal properties.

The main constituents of the flowers include several phenolic compounds, primarily the flavonoids apigenin, quercetin, patuletin, luteolin and their glucosides

The principal components of the essential oil extracted from the flowers are the terpenoids alpha-bisabolol and its oxides and azulenes, including chamazulene.

Its multitherapeutic, cosmetic, and nutritional values have been established through years of traditional and scientific use and research.

Chamomile can help in improving cardiovascular conditions, stimulate immune system and provide some protection against cancer.

Different classes of bioactive constituents are present in chamomile, which have been isolated and used as medicinal preparations and cosmetics

Approximately 120 secondary metabolites have been identified in chamomile, including 28 terpenoids and 36 flavonoids.

The principal components of the essential oil extracted from the German chamomile flowers are the terpenoids α-bisabolol and its oxide azulenes including chamazulene and acetylene derivatives. Chamazulene and bisabolol are very unstable and are best preserved in an alcoholic tincture. The essential oil of Roman chamomile contains less chamazulene and is mainly constituted from esters of angelic acid and tiglic acid. 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. It is present in very small quantities as free apigenin, but predominantly exists in the form of various glycosides.

The essential oil constituents and antimicrobial activity of Anthemis aciphylla BOISS. var. discoidea BOISS.2006


Chamomile is a native of the old World and it is a member of Asteraceae/Compositae family and represented by two common varieties viz. German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).


Anti-inflammatory and antiphlogistic properties

A study in human volunteers demonstrated that chamomile flavonoids and essential oils are not only adsorbed at the skin surface, but penetrate into deeper skin layers.
This is important for their use as topical antiphlogistic (anti-inflammatory) agents.

In vivo skin penetration studies of camomile flavones. 1994

Anticancer activity

Most evaluations of tumor growth inhibition by chamomile involve studies with apigenin.

Apigenin cancer

Studies on preclinical models of skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer have shown promising growth inhibitory effects.

The efficacy of the novel agent TBS-101, a mixture of seven standardized botanical extracts including chamomile has been recently tested. The results confirm it to have a good safety profile with significant anticancer activities against androgen-refractory human prostrate cancer PC-3 cells, both in vitro and in vivo situation

Common cold

Studies indicate that inhaling steam with chamomile extract has been helpful in common cold symptoms.

Cardiovascular conditions

It has been suggested that regular use of flavonoids consumed in food may reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease in elderly men. Flavonoid intake was significantly inversely associated with mortality from coronary heart disease and showed an inverse relation with incidence of myocardial infarction.

Dietary antioxidant flavonoids and risk of coronary heart disease: the Zutphen Elderly Study.1994

Colic/Diarrhea conditions

Chamomile extract may help shorten the course of diarrhea in children as well as relieve symptoms associated with the condition.
The chamomile can be used safely to treat infant colic disorders.
Chamomile is used traditionally for numerous gastrointestinal conditions, including digestive disorders, "spasm" or colic, upset stomach, flatulence, ulcers, and gastrointestinal irritation.
Chamomile is especially helpful in dispelling gas, soothing the stomach, and relaxing the muscles that move food through the intestines.

More on infant colic.1997


Topical applications of chamomile have been shown to be moderately effective in the treatment of atopic eczema

Proof of efficacy of Kamillosan® cream in atopic eczema.2000


To prevent bone loss that occurs with increasing age, chamomile extract was evaluated for its ability to stimulate the differentiation and mineralization of osteoblastic cells.

Greek plant extracts exhibit selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM)-like properties.2004

Sleep aid/sedation

Traditionally, chamomile preparations such as tea and essential oil aromatherapy have been used to treat insomnia and to induce sedation (calming effects).
Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquillizer and sleep-inducer.
Studies in preclinical models have shown anticonvulsant and CNS depressant effects respectively.

Chamomile extracts exhibit benzodiazepine-like hypnotic activity.

Compounds, other than apigenin, present in extracts of chamomile can also bind BDZ and GABA receptors in the brain and might be responsible for some sedative effect; however, many of these compounds are as yet unidentified.

Flavonoids and the central nervous system: from forgotten factors to potent anxiolytic compounds.1999

Anxiety and seizure

Chamomile has been reported in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
An earlier report suggests that German chamomile showed significant inhibition of GAD activity.

Effects of traditionally used anxiolytic botanicals on enzymes of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system.2007


The chamomile ameliorates hyperglycemia and diabetic complications.
The pharmacological activity of chamomile extract has shown to be independent of insulin secretion.

Protective effects of dietary chamomile tea on diabetic complications.2008

Wound healing

Chamomile was judged to be statistically efficacious in producing wound drying and in speeding epithelialization.

In addition, wet and dry granulation tissue weight and hydroxyproline content is significantly higher.
Recent studies suggest that chamomile cause complete wound healing faster than corticosteroids.

Comparative analysis between Chamomilla recutita and corticosteroids on wound healing. An in vitro and in vivo study.2009

Quality-of-life in cancer patients

Essential oils obtained from Roman chamomile are the basic ingredients of aromatherapy.
The intervention with aromatherapy massage using lavender, chamomile, rosemary, and lemon produced significant differences in the anxiety and self-esteem.
The results infact suggest that aromatherapy massage exerts positive effects on anxiety and self-esteem.

A randomized controlled trial of aromatherapy massage in a hospice setting.2004


Chamomile is usually taken orally as a tea and eliminated by the kidneys.

A study in human volunteers demonstrated that chamomile flavonoids and essential oils are not only adsorbed at the skin surface, but penetrate into deeper skin layers
This is important for their use as topical antiphlogistic (anti-inflammatory) agents.


Inflammation results in induced expression and enzyme activity of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which produces inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandin E2 (PCOX-2, unlike COX-1 which is constitutively expressed in most mammalian tissue, is not detectable in normal tissues, but is rapidly induced by growth factors, tumor promoters, oncogenes and carcinogens GE2) and Aberrant or increased expression of COX-2 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of various inflammatory disorders.

Inducible cyclooxygenase (COX-2) has been implicated in the process of inflammation and carcinogenesis.
Inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis by direct interference with the cyclooxygenase enzymes is a common mechanism of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Chamazulene, alpha-bisabolol, and apigenin have been shown to possess the highest anti-inflammatory activity against pro-inflammatory agents.
The mechanism of action of chamomile on the inhibition of PGE2 production is due to the suppression of the COX-2 gene expression and direct inhibition of COX-2 enzyme activity.

Chamomile, a novel and selective COX-2 inhibitor with anti-inflammatory activity. 2009

The chamomile works by a mechanism of action similar to that attributed to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
These add a novel aspect to the biological profile of chamomile which might be important for understanding the usefulness of aqueous chamomile extract in the form of tea in preventing inflammation and cancer.

The intake of chamomile extract resulted in a significant increase inurinary levels of hippurate, a product of the metabolism of phenols(compounds found in some plants and associated with an antibacterial), known for its antiseptic effect in urine.

The increased urinary excretion of hippurate is testimony to the highest concentration in the blood, and could give a valid explanation of whychamomile tea can help reduce the incidence of development of inflammation.

Were also highlighted by high urinary concentrations of glycine, an amino acid that appears to be implicated in reducing muscle spasms. This could be in relation to the efficiency of the extract of camomile in the reduction of menstrual pains and spasms in the gastrointestinal level.
increased levels of hippurate and glycine observed during the period ofintake of chamomile extract remain so even in the next two weeks.

In a recently conducted study, chamomile extracts were shown to cause minimal growth inhibitory effects on normal cells, but showed significant reductions in cell viability in various human cancer cell lines. Chamomile exposure induced apoptosis in cancer cells but not in normal cells at similar doses.

Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of chamomile extract in various human cancer cells. 2007

The camomile has anti-ulcerogenic effect associated with a reduced acid output, an increased mucin secretion, an increase in prostaglandin E (2) release and a decrease in leukotrienes.

Chamomile, a novel and selective COX-2 inhibitor with anti-inflammatory activity.2009

Chamomile extract was shown to stimulate osteoblastic cell differentiation and to exhibit an anti-estrogenic effect, suggesting an estrogen receptor-related mechanism

Sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid, apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain.

In a study, inhalation of the vapor of chamomile oil reduced a stress-induced increase in plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels.
Diazepam, co-administered with the chamomile oil vapor, further reduced ACTH levels, while flumazenile, a BDZ antagonist blocked the effect of chamomile oil vapor on ACTH.

Flavonoids and the central nervous system: from forgotten factors to potent anxiolytic compounds.1999

Chamomile has significant affinity for the central benzodiazepine receptor.

Apigenin hasn't effect on muscarinic receptors, alpha 1-adrenoceptors, and on the binding of muscimol to GABA A receptors.

Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.2010

The chamomile suppress blood sugar levels, increasing liver glycogen storage and inhibition of sorbitol in the human erythrocytes


At present there is no information about pharmacogenomics.
Are required esearch and generation of scientific evidence; chamomile is a promising therapeutic agent.


Allergic reactions are rare but there have been reports of hypersensitivity,contact dermatitis and conjunctivitis after ocular washings and use ofchamomile ointment.

Intake of excessive amounts of tea may trigger the so-called "paradoxical effect", with the appearance of agitation and irritability.


Excessive doses may interfere with anticoagulant therapy (Warfarin in particular).
There are no known other significant interactions.


Are not known forms of resistance.


Chamomile is not addictive.

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