Home Remedies and Science: Chamomile Tea

As part of our work at Grass Roots Vitality, we want to explore some of the connections between “home” or “folk” remedies and science, which is increasingly finding that these approaches to ailments do have explanations that can be found through science.

For example, chamomile tea has been recommended for generations as a mild tonic to aid sleeplessness and stress, as well as cold and menstrual cramps. A study done in England and reported in Science Daily offers solid scientific evidence that chamomile does work and helps us understand why.

Researchers at the Imperial College of London gave a sample group of fourteen people five cups of chamomile tea for two weeks. They collected urine samples from the group before and after drinking the tea.

We quote from the results:

“The researchers found that drinking the tea was associated with a significant increase in urinary levels of hippurate, a breakdown product of certain plant-based compounds known as phenolics, some of which have been associated with increased antibacterial activity. This could help explain why the tea appears to boost the immune system and fight infections associated with colds, according to the researchers.

“Drinking the tea also was associated with an increase in urinary levels of glycine, an amino acid that has been shown to relieve muscle spasms. This may explain why the tea appears to be helpful in relieving menstrual cramps in women, probably by relaxing the uterus, say the researchers. Glycine also is known to act as a nerve relaxant, which may also explain why the tea seems to act as a mild sedative, the scientists note.”

The researchers found that hippurate and glycine levels remained elevated for up to two weeks after participants stopped drinking the tea. They also note that additional studies would need to be done to establish a positive link.

But for the moment, enjoy your chamomile tea knowing that it’s not just a delicious placebo – it can actively influence how you feel.