Chamomile extract is derived from the chamomile flower, which is popularly used in herbal teas. Many who consume chamomile tea or take the extract do so for its relaxing and anxiety reducing qualities. It may also be effective at reducing inflammation, relieving skin problems such as eczema, and aiding in gastrointestinal relief. The most common side effects to chamomile extract are allergic reactions, particularly among those who have allergies to any other plants of the Asteraceae family to which chamomile belongs.
Most chamomile is consumed in tea form, though the extract may be available in capsule, tincture, or ointment forms. Chamomile ointment is believed to be as effective as hydrocortisone in reducing the itching and inflammation associated with eczema. Many other skin problems, such as acne, are also believed to diminish with the aid of chamomile.
Chamomile extract contains concentrated amounts of compounds found in the chamomile flower, such as flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory qualities. Many of the compounds in the plant are promoted for antioxidant, anti-ulcer, and antimicrobial uses. One of the most popular uses for chamomile is its anxyolitic, or anxiety reducing, effect. Chamomile tea is often consumed for its relaxant qualities, even as a sleep aid.
Another claim of chamomile is it serves as an effective digestive aid. Due to its anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory effects, it may ease stomach ulcers, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, and morning sickness. Chamomile extract may also help prevent diarrhea and hemorrhoids. Many claims regarding its ability to relieve digestive and other ailments, however, are not conclusive and have not been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Mild to moderate cases of generalized anxiety disorder have been improved by taking chamomile. The Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology conducted one study in which subjects in an experimental group were administered chamomile extract, and subjects in a control group were given placebos. Those in the experimental group displayed significant decreases in anxiety levels.
Allergic reactions to chamomile and its extract are fairly common. Skin rashes, itching, abdominal discomfort, and swelling of the throat have been reported, even though such reactions are counter-indicative of the ailments they are meant to relieve. It is recommended that those with allergies to any other plants of the Asteraceae family, such as echinacea, dandelions and sunflowers, avoid chamomile. There may be some adverse interactions between chamomile extract and some drugs, such as blood thinning medications.