What Is Chamomile Good For? Benefits, Side Effects & Drug Interactions

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Chamomile is a familiar herb and when brewed in tea, it's a popular element in alternative and holistic medicine.

Where does it come from, what health benefits does it offer and most important, is it safe? Dr. Chiti Parikh, a New York City specialist in internal medicine, weighed in with what you need to know about the health properties of chamomile.

1. What is chamomile?

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It's a daisy-like plant touted to relieve sleeplessness, anxiety and stomach upsets.

People often drink it in tea form, but Parikh noted that it’s also available as supplement in capsule form, and it’s even used in warm baths.

2. Potential health benefits of chamomile

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"[Chamomile] is commonly used for anxiety, relaxation and sleep,” said Parikh, executive director of integrative health and wellbeing at New York-Presbyterian, in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine.

3. Safety of chamomile

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The NCCIH says chamomile is "likely safe when used in amounts commonly found in teas." It is also safe to take orally for medicinal purposes "over the short term," NCCIH says.

4. Side effects of chamomile

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Is chamomile tea good for you? Some small studies have shown that women who used it every day throughout pregnancy had a slightly higher risk for early delivery as well as lower birth weight compared to mothers who did not use chamomile, Parikh said.

"I typically do not recommend [pregnant people] using it daily,” she said.

Some people have an allergic reaction to chamomile -- and that's more apt to happen if they are allergic to other plants in the same family, such as daisies, ragweed, marigolds and chrysanthemums.

5. Potential drug interactions of chamomile

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If you take warfarin, aspirin or other blood-thinning medications, limit yourself to no more than 3 cups of chamomile tea a day, Parikh suggested.

Other drug interactions with chamomile are possible.

"Talk to your health care provider before taking chamomile if you're taking any type of medication," the NCCIH recommends.

6. Dosage

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A guide from New York-based Mount Sinai lists doses for various forms of chamomile -- from tea to creams and in the bath.

It suggests drinking 3 to 4 cups of chamomile tea between meals; or gargling with it up to three times a day. For a cough, add a few drops of chamomile essential oil to hot water and breathe deep. Or try chamomile-containing cream for psoriasis, eczema or dry and flaky skin, the guide suggests.

7. Source and more information

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