Chamomile tea is one of the most popular herbal teas on the market, a common feature in the cupboard of countless tea lovers the world over. Chamomile tea is caffeine free, loaded with antioxidants and it tastes and smells great. It truly is a wonderful tea and the more you know about its health benefits the more wonderful it seems.
So, let’s discover just how amazing chamomile tea is.
Where is Chamomile Grown?
Chamomile is an abundant, resilient flower that grows anywhere that’s dry, whether it’s the mild, cool and dry climates found in many parts of Germany, the hot and dry climate in Greece, or similar climates throughout the United States.
Most countries seem to have their own varieties and we’ve even heard that it is produced in huge numbers over in China. They sell it cheap to suppliers across the world and this is increasingly becoming the type of chamomile found in brand name tea bags. In most cases, however, it’s not the best. The emphasis is on price, they don’t have as extensive of a history growing and harvesting it, and even if it’s picked and dried fresh, by the time it’s harvested, picked, freighted over to the manufacturer, packed and then shipped to retailers, it’s stale.
Where is the Best Chamomile Found?
The best green tea can be found in Japan in the form of sencha and matcha. The best black tea can be found in India, in the Darjeeling plantation. But what about chamomile, which region grows the best?
As mentioned above, it can be and is grown all over. But if you want the best then make sure you get European varieties. It’s the German variety that we all consume, but this variety isn’t just grown in Germany and can also be found throughout the Mediterranean and in Northern Europe.
We have enjoyed some great tasting English, German, Spanish and Greek chamomile in the past and we tend to lean towards Greek, German or Spanish varieties. These offer the most flavorsome taste and fragrance, but if you get your tea from a good supplier and it is grown in Europe then you should be good no matter what.
Chamomile Tea Benefits
Chamomile is often consumed for its sedative and anti-anxiety properties, but we’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s look at other potential benefits of chamomile.
The most notable of these are its effects on digestion, with research suggesting that it could be able to help reduce stomach cramps and alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. It is an antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory, which means it can stop violent stomach cramps and reduce the inflammation caused by IBS and similar conditions.
Does Chamomile Tea Help with Sleep?
Chamomile is not going to knock you out, but it does produce mild sedative effects and can help to send you into peaceful slumber. This is all down to a flavonoid by the name of apigenin, which binds to benzodiazepine receptors. That’s not to say that it has the same effects as benzodiazepines, far from it, but as a healthy, mild alternative you can’t go much wrong.
Several studies have been conducted on the sedative properties of chamomile and while some have been inconclusive, others have shown that a cup of strong chamomile drunk prior to sleep can induce a longer, deeper sleep.
Roman Chamomile is an essential oil made from chamomile, one that has a number of benefits. We prefer to make a tea out of the flowers as that way you get the full flavor and benefits of the flower while knowing exactly how that chamomile went from flower to liquid to mouth, but Roman chamomile oil is a great option if you want an easier and more direct method of consumption or if you’re not a big fan of the taste of the flowers.
There are many sites out there claiming that this essential oil can help with everything from digestive issues to anxiety and more. There are even sites that claim it used to be given to Roman soldiers in order to give them courage prior to fighting battles. All of this is a little hard to believe and it’s not backed by science.
That’s usually the case though, because if herbal alternatives were that effective then they wouldn’t be alternatives and would be prescribed for the conditions they are supposed to treat. In chamomile’s case, there are some things that it can do and in some countries, Germany included, a distilled version of this flower—something not unlike Roman chamomile oil—is prescribed to help with digestive ailments and mild anxiety.
Cheaper chamomile teas typically contain all of the plant, including the stalk. This is ground up to a fine dust and then added to tea bags. It smells the same and it has the same taste, but it’s not as potent and you’re not getting as many of the flavonoids that make this such an effective substance.
That’s why you should always buy teas made from 100% chamomile flowers. These can be bought loose or in teabag form, but you might need to avoid the big brands in order to find the best ones. TeaPigs is one of the few big brands that sells 100% chamomile flowers and we’ll be sure to update this page if any others catch our eye.
Chamomile Tea During Pregnancy
There are some concerns about chamomile consumption in pregnant women. As is usually the cast with herbal teas there is very little research on the effects in pregnant women. No one can say for certain that it’s safe and this is why pregnant women are usually advised to stay clear of the tea.
If you find that chamomile tea works wonders for your mental health and you’re worried about missing out when you become pregnant, just discuss it with your doctor. They may recommend occasional consumption, if they believe that the positives will outweigh the negatives, but in most cases they will advise against it.
Side Effects of Chamomile Tea
Chamomile side effects are very rare, but it is possible to be allergic to it which means mild to severe allergic reactions are possible. Other side effects will only occur during excessive consumption and are limited to nausea and vomiting, symptoms you will experience if you overindulge in pretty much anything.