Chamomile is a popular herb taken as a tea for at-home remedies to treat colds and insomnia. There are two varieties of chamomile, German and Roman, with German being the most readily available to grow at home. Chamomile is considered generally safe, but it can increase asthma symptoms and cause reactions in people who are allergic to ragweed, asters, daisies and mums. Pregnant women should avoid using chamomile.
German chamomile is a hardy herb that has small white flowers with yellow centers, similar to daisies. It grows up to 36 inches in height in an erect form. German chamomile is native to north Africa, parts of Asia and Europe, though it is commonly found in home gardens across the world. Roman and German chamomile are related and they both contain most of the same medicinal benefits, but German chamomile is far more commonly available.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, German chamomile has been used for thousands of years by the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. It was used to treat a wide variety of disorders including, colitis, stomach ulcers, insomnia, colds, chickenpox and skin conditions.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that using chamomile may be effective in treating certain skin conditions and mouth ulcers caused from chemotherapy. They also say the use of chamomile in combination with other herbs may aid in stomach upset and diarrhea in children as well as colic in infants. There is a study published in the November 4, 2009 issue of "Life Sciences," conducted by J.K. Srivastava, M. Pandey and S. Gupta, that showed chamomile tea was able to prevent inflammation. Small doses of chamomile has shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and larger doses can bring on sleep.
The herb chamomile is considered a calmative, nervine, antispasmodic, anodyne, diaphoretic, emmengogue and carminative by herbalist Michael Tierra. These properties make chamomile tea useful in treating irritability and a variety of digestive disorders. It is also suggested for relieving generalized aches and insomnia associated with the common cold. Chamomile is also widely recommended to help with painful menstrual cramps.
According to Drugs.com, taking chamomile may cause internal bleeding when used with warfarin and cyclosporine. Allergic reactions are possible and may appear as asthma, diarrhea and cramps if used internally, and topical use may cause skin irritations.