What is a Chamomile Extract and How to Use it?

Introduction

Sometimes it can be confusing whether to use the term flavorings or extracts as these can often be mixed up. However, generally an extract is made with a natural ingredient while a flavoring can be made from artificial flavors. An example of herbal extract is chamomile extract that is made with chamomile flower.

Chamomile Extracts

Some of the bioactive constituents of chamomile are as follows;

Sesquiterpenes, flavonoids, coumarins, and polyacetylenes are the most important ingredients of the chamomile drug. However, eleven bioactive phenolic compounds, such as herniarin, umbelliferone and many more, are present in chamomile extract. German chamomile is a crude source of blue oil (essential oil). The flowers and flower heads are the main organs in the making of essential oil.

Chamomile Extract Preparation Benefits

  • Dry extracts (powder) are mostly extracted from the dry flowers of chamomile via water, ethanol or methanol as solvents, with the subsequent extracts classified as aqueous, ethanolic (alcoholic) and/or methanolic extracts. An ideal chamomile extracts encompass approximately 50% alcohol. Normally, standardized extracts contain 1.2% apigenin (most effective bioactive agents). Chamomile tea (world’s most popular herbal teas in tea bags) contains chamomile flower powder, either pure or blended with other popular medicinal herbs.
  • Aqueous extracts, Such as tea, high levels of apigenin-7-O-glucoside (low concentration of free apigenin).
  • Vaporized essential oils Chamomile flower extract is proposed to relieve depression and is a popular ingredient in aromatherapy and hair care.
  • Cosmetic preparations (Roman chamomile).

Uses of Chamomile Extract  

  • Most importantly used as a herbal tea (Chamomile tea).
  • Chamomile flower (either alone or in combination) is extensively used for inflammatory pain or congestive neuralgia, and infection or abscess in the form of capsule or ointment(as per provider advice).The whole chamomile plant is used for making herbal beers, and in lotions, for external application in toothache, earache, bath additive, and for soothing any inflammation such as ano-genital inflammation, skin irritations, bruises, burns etc. etc.
  • The extract in the form of capsule or a strong herbal tea are commonly used for mild sedation to calm the nerves, to decrease  anxiety, hysteria, and other related problems. As a digestive relaxant, to treat gas, indigestion, diarrhea, anorexia, motion sickness, nausea, vomiting,in women as an emmenagogue and a uterine tonic.
  • Widely used in cosmetic preparations due to its soothing and softening effect on the skin in the form of lotion and ointments.

Scientific Evaluation of Chamomile

Anticancer Role: Research studies with apigenin, (bioactive constituents of chamomile) using pre-clinical models of skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer proposed promising growth inhibitory effects whereas other displayed a significant reduction in cell viability in various human cancer cell lines.

Common Cold: Several studies indicated that steam inhalation with chamomile extract aids in relieving common cold symptoms; however, further research is needed.

Cardiovascular Conditions: Flavonoids used consistently in food may reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease in elderly men this was concluded in a study assessing the flavonoid intake of 805 men aged 65-84 years who had a 5 year follow up and showed an inverse relation with the incidence of myocardial infarction.

Colic/Diarrhea Conditions: An apple pectin-chamomile extract decreased the course of diarrhea in children, and alleviate other related symptoms according to two research studies that have evaluated the efficacy of chamomile for the treatment of colic in children.

Promotion of Immune System: Chamomile tea boosts the immune system and helps fight infections associated with colds as per previous research.

Contraindications of Chamomile

Chamomile is registered on the FDA’s GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list. Evidence of cross-reactivity of chamo­mile with other drugs is not well recognized, therefore further research is needed.Additionally,pregnant women should seek advice from their medical provider as there is no research done on the effect of Chamomile in the unborn child so far.