Text Size

Site Search powered by Ajax



Botanical Description & Habitat

Matricaria chamomilla


Common Names
German chamomile
Ground apple

Distinct from Roman chamomile!

Native to southern Europe and northern Asia, naturalized in Australia and the United States; grows along roadsides and in fields.

Chamomile is an annual herb which produces a round, furrowed, branched stem 1-2 feet tall. The leaves are pale green, incised, and sessile, with thread-shaped leaflets. The flower heads consist of yellow disk flowers and white petal-shaped ray flowers that are bent downward to make the disk flowers more prominent.

Medicinal Parts
Dried flower heads; collected when the flowers are mature and expanded.

Historical Properties & Uses

Chamomile tea is a favorite of women and children in Europe and in some parts of the U.S., often being part of their daily diet. It is Europe's best-known "cure-all," and its active components include essential oils (chamazulen and bisabolol), flavonoids, glycosides, and a very important dicyclic ether.

Like gentian and dandelion, chamomile is a bitter tonic with many proven properties. It is a strong antispasmodic, comparable to papaverine, as well as an effective anti-inflammatory, sedative, anti-ulcerative, antibacterial, carminative, and antimycotic agent.

Whether applied internally or externally, chamomile reduces inflammation caused by infections, wounds, and metabolic disorders. Chamomile relieves oral swelling and pain, and is useful against dermatological ailments. It is used like a traditional bitter for stimulation of the liver.

Chamomile is often studied as a potential source of anti-cancer agents, producing regular positive results. A recent German symposium, addressing the tremendous amount of clinical, therapeutic, and experimental work done on the herb, substantiated chamomile's utility and effectiveness.

Chamomile may also be made into an ointment for topical application in cases of eczema.

Chamomile flower, the German variety, enjoys an approved status in Germany and a major share of the German phytopharmaceutical market, with sales exceeding $8 million p.a.

Its primary use is to soothe inflamed skin and membranes.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Method of Action

The cholagogue action of this herb was established experimentally long ago.

Antibacterial properties have been found in chamomile.

In Europe, chamomile is one of the most used for stimulating the immune system. Research has found that it contains alkaloids which are very similar to the active alkaloids of echinacea.

The spasmolytic or antispasmodic claim has been verified in a very extensive piece of research on its effects against acetylcholine-induced contraction of isolated guinea pig ileum. This activity has been ascribed by other researchers to the presence of chamillin. In a concentration of 1:30,000 this chemical antagonizes acetylcholine 1:1,000,000 in its action on spinal motor functions and on the predominantly tonic muscles of cold-blooded animals.

Apigenine, which may be the same chemical as chamillin, has also been found to possess antispasmodic activity, not unlike that of paparavine against the action of histamine. A yellow flavone has also been shown to have spasmolytic properties, antagonizing spasms created by barium chloride or histamine on isolated intestinal tissue.

In vitro studies have shown (--)-alpha-bisabolol, a constituent of chamomile, exerts a primary antipeptic action dose dependent and is not due to alteration of pH. The researchers note extrapolation to in vivo environments would not be recommended until further work is done.

They also emphasize all the properties of chamomile cannot be attributed to a single constituent, but depend upon a complex of constituents, many of which are yet undetermined.

Azulene, another important component, given orally to rats at 18 mg/kg per day, or 1-glutamine at 3.0 g/kg per day for 10 days had only a slight therapeutic effect on gastric ulcer, but when combined they had significant synergistic effect on both gastric and duodenal ulcers.

Azulene has an anti-inflammatory property which has been confirmed in animal experiments using rats, rabbits, cats, and has also been seen in humans.

The precursor of azulen, chamazulene, found abundantly in chamomile, has also been found to have anti-inflammatory action. In addition, it has proved effective in healing the lesions produced by the yellow cross war gas, dichlorodiethylsulphide.

(--)-alpha-bisabolol inhibits ulcer formation induced by indomethacin or stress in rats and increases the rate of healing of ulcers caused by HOAc or heat cauterization of the stomach. Chamomile extract also inhibits experimentally-induced ulcer formation.

Another constituent of chamomile, ene-yne dicycloether, has shown good anti-inflammatory action against dextran edema. In addition, it had greater spasmolytic effect in guinea pig and rabbit intestinal tissue than did papererine hydrochloride.

Pronounced anti-inflammatory activity is also seen in experiments with (--)-alphal-bisabolol, against carragenin-induced edema in rat paw, and in the cotton pellet granuloma assay in rats.

Certain fractions extracted from chamomile have inhibited experimentally induced carcinomas in mice (chondroma and Ehrlich-carcinoma.)

A lyophilized infusion of chamomile flowers decreased basal motility in mice in a dose-dependent manner, without involving motor coordination or muscle relation. Exploratory and motor activities were significantly decreased and a mild hypnogenic effect was observed. No signs of toxicity were noted.

A water extract of chamomile was found to significantly enhance uterine tonus in the rabbit and guinea pig.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Possible Interactions
The antiarrhythmic agent quinidine, may increase the hypoprothrombinemic effect of chamomile.

Conversely, the anti-inflammatory activity of chamomile can be seriously inhibited by phenobarbital as well as by certain other sedatives and hypnotics, such as chloral hydrate and meprobamate. This is also true of beta-adrenergic blocking agents, such as propranolol.

Vitamin K, menadione, and menadiol sodium diphosphate may antagonize the anticoagulant effects of coumarins.

Although the coumarin content of chamomile is not high at normal usage levels, it is important to note that coumarins can affect the action of almost any drug.

It should also be noted the presence of azulenes in chamomile may interfere with the actions of bradykinin, histamine, acetylcholine, and serotonin.

To the extent that chamomile's action depends on the presence of cholinergic substances, its action will be affected by the decrease in cholinergic-receptor stimulation produced by anticholinergics.

In the absence of other hard data, it may be assumed observable interactions occur between the many central nervous system drugs and the psychoactive principles in chamomile.

There is evidence to show combined use of bactericidal and bacteriostatic agents will lower the effectiveness of the bacteriostatic agent. However, how this finding applies to herbal anti-infectives is still unknown.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Chamomile is nontoxic in therapeutic dosages. It is generally regarded as safe by the FDA.

Contact dermatitis, anaphylaxis and other hypersensitivity symptoms may occur in sensitive individuals if certain pollens find their way into a packaged product.

German chamomile flower has approval status by the German Commission E.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Preparation & Administration

Three times a day

Dried flowerheads
1-4 grams

1/2 - 1 tsp dried flowerheads

Fluid extract
1:1 in 70% alcohol, 1-4 ml

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E.

Recommended daily dosages in Germany (for German Chamomile) are as follows:

Heaping tablespoon (3 g) in a cup of boiling water as a tea. (Strain.) 3 or 4 cups per day.

The tea may also be used as a gargle.

In a bath c. 50 g per 10 liters (c. 2.5 gallons)


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.


Abramowicz, M., Ed. Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, 21(7), 30, 1979.

Am Hospital Formulary Service. Am Soc of Hosp Pharm. Wash, D.C.

Benner, MH & Lee, HJ: Anaphylactic reaction to chamomiletea. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 1973, 52:307.

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Breinlich, J. & K. Scharnagel. Pharmakologische eigenschaften des en-in-dicycloaethers aus matericaria chamomilla: untersuchungen der entzuendungshemmenden, antiananphylaktischen, spasmolytischen und bakteriostatischen wirkung. Arzneimittel-Forschung, 18(4), 429-431, 1968.

Bressler, R., M.D. Bogdonoff & G.J. Subak-Sharpe. 1981. The Physicians Drug Manual. Doubleday & Co, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1213 pp.

Cekan, Z., et. al., Chem and Ind., 604, 1956, 1954; Through Chem Abstracts 51, 11313, 1957.

Chamberlain, M.J., et.al. Toxic effect of podophyllum application in pregnancy. The British Medical Journal, 3, 391- 392, 1972.

Clark, T.H., A.H. Conney & B.P. Harpole, et.al. 1967. Drug interactions that can affect your patients. Patient Care, 1(11). pp. 33-71.

Committee on Pharmocopaeia of the Am Institute of Homeopathy, The Homeopathic Pharmacopaeia of the United States. 8th ed., Vol 1. Otis Clapp and Son, Agents, Boston, l981.

Drug package insert (FDA approved official brochure) and other labeling based on sponsored clinical investigations and New Drug Application data.

Facts and Comparison. The Lawrence Review of Natural Products. Oct, 1986.

Forster, H. Spasmolytische wirkung pflanzlicher carminativa. Zeitschrift der Allgemein Medizin, 59, 1327-1333, 1983.

Goodman, L.S. & A. Gilman. 1975. Pharm Basis of Thera. MacMillan, NY. Gpranov, K., et.al. Clinical results from the treatment of hemorrhagic form of periodontosis with a complex herb extract and 15% DMSO. Stomatologia, 65(6), 25-30, 1983.

Hansten, P.D. 1979. Drug Interactions, 4th ed. Lea & Febiger, Phila.

Hava, M., et. al. Comptes Rendus Societe Biologie, Paris, 151, 242, 1957.

Heubner, W., et. al. Arch. Exp. Path. Pharmak., 171, 329, 1933; and 192, 383, 1939.

Hyde, F.F. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Assoc: West Yorks, England, 1983

Isaac, O. & K. Thiemer. Biochemische untersuchungen von kamilleninhaltsstoffen. III. in-vitro versuche uber die antipeptische wirkung. Arzneimittul-Forschung, 25, 1352, 1975. Janku, I. Comptes Rendus Societe Biologie, Paris, 151, 242, 1957.

Isaac, O. Pharmacological investigations with compounds of Chamomile. Planta Medica 35 (1979): 118-124.

Jelicic-Hadzovic, J. & P. Stern. 1972. Azulenes and bradykinins. Arzneimittel-forschungen, 22(7). pp. 1210-1211.

Kastrup, E.K., ed. 1981. Drug Facts and Comparisons, 1982 edition. Facts and Comparisions Division, J.P. Lippincott Co, Phila(St. Louis).

Kolata, G. Vitamin C Prevents Periodontal Disease in an Animal Model. Science, 209. 1981.

List, P. & L. Hoerhammer. 1969-1976. Hagers Hanbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, vols. 2-5. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Loggia, Traversa, Scarcia & Tubaro. Depressive effects of chamomilla recutita (L.) rausch, tubular flowers, on central nervous system in mice. Pharmacological Research Communications, 14(2), 153-162, 1982.

Martin, E.W. 1978. Drug Interactions Index, 1978/79. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Maruzzela, J.C. & M.B. Lichtenstein. The in vitro antibacterial activity of oils. Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, 45(6), 378-381, 1956.

Metelmann, J. Arch. Exp. Path. Pharmak., 191, 263-, 1938.

Moese, J.R. & G. Luka. Zur wirksamkeit einiger aetherischer oele und deren inhaltsstoffe auf bakterien. Arzneimittel- Forschung, 7(11), 687-692, 1957.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.

Neuwald, et. al. Zhurnal Naturforschung, 4b, 309, 1949. Biol. Abstracts, 25, 23766, 1951.

Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines A Guide for Health-care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996:21,45,63,282.

Okabe, S.K., et. al. Effects of azulene, L-glutamine, or azulene and L-glutamine on the development of healing of experimental gastric or duodenal ulcer and gastric secretion in the rat. Oyo Yakuri, 9, 31-, 1975.

Pharmacological investigations with compounds of chamomile. Four part series in: Planta Med. 1979, 35: 118, 125, 218, 37:115.

Riesterer, L. & R. Jaques. 1968. Interference by beta-adrenergic blocking agents with the antiinflammatory action of various drugs. Helv Physiol Acta, 26. pp. 287-293.

Santaniello, E. Reversed phased high-performance liquid chromatography analysis of apigenin and its glucosides in flowers of Matricaria chamomilla and chamomile extracts. Planta Medica 42 (1981): 288-292.

Scientific Committee, British Herbal Pharmocopaeia, British Herbal Med Assoc, Lane House, Cowling, Na Keighley, West Yorks, Bd Bd220lx, l983

Shipochliev, T. Extracts from a group of medicinal plants enhancing the uterine tonus. Veterinary Sciences, 28(4), 94-98, 1981.

Stuart, D.M. 1968. Drug metabolism Part 2. Drug interactions. PharmIndex, 10(10). pp. 4-16.

Szelenyi, I. & Isaac, O. & Thiemer, K. Pharmakologische untersuchungen von kamillen-inhaltsstoffen. III. Tierexperimentelle untersuchungen ueber di ulkusprotecktive wirkung der kamille. Planta Medica, 35(2), 218-227, 1979.

Udall, J.A. 1968. Quinidine and hypoprothrombinemia. Annals of Internal Medicine, 69(8). pp. 403-404.

Viola, H et al., Apigenin, a component of Matricaria recutita flowers, is a central benzodiazepine receptor-ligand with anxiolytic effects. Planta Medica, 1996, 61:213-216.

Wagner, H. Immunprophylaxe und-therapie durch pflanzenpraeparate. Zeitschrift fur Allgemeinmedizin, 24, 1282-1289, 1983.

Wegner, E. Arch. Pharm., Berlin, 283, 127, 1950.

Essential Oil

See Chamomile Essence under Aromatherapy


Matricaria chamomilla

? Southwest School of Botanical Medicine


Follow Applied Health on FaceBook Follow Applied Health on Twitter Follow Applied Health on Pinterest Follow Applied Health on YouTube

cruelty free - tested only on humans
We test only on humans