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What You Need to Know About Chamomile


Updated May 16, 2014

Rosemary Calvert Collection/Stockbyte/Getty Images

What is Chamomile?

Other names: Matricaria recutita, German chamomile, true chamomile, Hungarian chamomile

Chamomile is a flowering plant in the daisy family. It is native to Europe and Asia. The flowers are used medicinally.

Chamomile comes in capsule, liquid, and tea form.

Why Do People Use Chamomile?

Chamomile has a long history of use in Europe for digestive ailments. The active constiuents of chamomile have anti-inflammatory properties, and ease spasm and discomfort in the digestive tract.


Chamomile is part of the Asteraceae plant family, which includes ragweed and chrysanthemum, so people with allergies may react when they use chamomile either internally or topically. Call your doctor if you experience vomiting, skin irritation, allergic reactions (chest tightness, wheezing, hives, rash, itching) after chamomile use.

Chamomile should not be taken during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

Chamomile contains coumarin, a naturally-occurring compound with anticoagulant or blood-thinning effects. It should not be combined with warfarin or other medications or supplements that have the same effect or be used by people with bleeding disorders.

In the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Montreal doctors described the case of a 70-year-old woman who developed severe internal bleeding after drinking plenty of chamomile tea for a sore throat and using chamomile skin lotion. The woman was being treated with the drug warfarin for a heart condition. It’s believed that the chamomile tea (and possibly the lotion) acted synergistically with the warfarin to cause bleeding. 

It shouldn't be used two weeks before or after surgery.


Canadian Medical Association Journal, April 25, 2006.

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