Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues affecting people today, but there’s no single cure, pill, or remedy for the affliction. Some doctors may recommend anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medications or benzodiazepines to patients, but these tend to have long-term negative effects on health.
As an alternative medicine, more and more holistic health professionals are recommending chamomile for anxiety treatment. In this article, we’ll assess whether these recommendations carry any clout, and if it’s a treatment you should consider trying if you’re looking for homeopathic remedies for mental health.
What is Chamomile?
Chamomile refers broadly to a range of daisy-like plants in the Asteraceae family. The two most commonly used kinds of chamomile, either for edible or medicinal purposes, are Roman and German chamomile. Respectively, these are scientifically referred to as Chamaemelum nobile and Marticaria recutita.
Because chamomile is genetically similar to daisies, it possesses comparable oils and flavonoids, such as bisabolol, matricin, and apigenin.
Latin nomenclature and medical jargon aside, these varieties of chamomile have been used since ancient times for their numerous health benefits, including relaxation and anti-inflammation. But there’s more!
What Are the Benefits of Chamomile?
As mentioned, chamomile has been used for centuries due to its medicinal properties. According to historical texts, the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all cultivated, consumed, and processed this cousin of the daisy.
Chamomile was and still is believed to be beneficial for a wide spectrum of ailments both mental and physical, including asthma, nausea, nervousness, skin conditions, and even cancer.
Does Chamomile Help with Anxiety?
Natural medicine can receive flak from individuals who believe that homeopathic remedies aren’t as effective as lab-synthesized pharmaceuticals. But research suggests that Mother Nature has more healing power than we sometimes give her credit for.
According to researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center on Aging at Tufts University, the phenolic components of chamomile are responsible for its various benefits — namely, the flavonoids called apigenin, quercetin, luteolin, and their glucoside brethren; as well as terpenoids like alpha-bisabolol and its azulene offshoots.
Don’t let the crazy words throw you for a loop. The Tufts team used animal model studies to show that chamomile not only had antioxidant properties but could also lower rates of cholesterol, spasmodic activity, and, yes, anxiety.
How to Use Chamomile for Anxiety
Essential oils are generally the best option when using chamomile as an alternative anxiolytic. The oil of the chamomile plant is extracted from its daisy-like flowers, which is harnessed via steam distillation. For the greatest anti-anxiety benefit, you’ll want to go with an essential oil made from fresh Roman chamomile flowers. This species has up to 8 times as much healing oil as its German counterpart.
Because they’re extracted from plants and combined with nothing except water, essential oils are safe to apply topically to the skin or to ingest sublingually (i.e. under the tongue). If neither of these methods seems suitable, you can still get a powerful calming effect from aromatherapeutic techniques — simply smelling chamomile oil can stave off a wave of panic. Talk about flower power!
It’s worth noting that chamomile should not be equated with a sedative or a miracle cure-all. But it certainly offers a valuable range of remedies for conditions that vary from physiological to psychological.
For more information on how homeopathic remedies can work for you, please reach out to the alternative medicine and chiropractic specialists at Dr. Steve Perlstein’s clinic today!