Chamomile tea could regulate blood sugar levels and thus protect against some of the common complications of diabetes.
Chamomile Tea is a popular herbal tea widely thought to have a calming and relaxing effect. Chamomile, sometimes spelled camomile, is a family of related plants; most of the chamomile used in tea is the species Matricaria recutita. In addition to being consumed as a tea on its own, chamomile is a common ingredient in herbal tea blends. It is used both as a beverage and as an herbal medicine.
Health Benefits of Chamomile Tea:
While it has long been used as a relaxing bedtime drink, like many herbs, chamomile has not been extensively studied scientifically, and much of the research on its health effects is young and inconclusive. There is some evidence, however, of a number of positive effects that this herb has on health:
Relaxation - One study compared chamomile tea to hot water and found that physiological indicators such as heart rate and skin temperature indicated that an infusion of chamomile is indeed more relaxing than hot water alone. Relaxation is hardly a benefit to be laughed at--stress is a major contributor to a variety of health problems from cancer to heart disease, and the reduction of stress can promote a healthy immune system and enhance overall health.
Antioxidants - Chamomile has been found to have moderate antioxidant effects. Antioxidants are a class of chemicals common in tea as well as a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbal teas. Although antioxidants are not universally beneficial, there is evidence that some antioxidants may have health benefits, such as preventing damage caused by oxidative stress.
Diabetes - In 2008 a study came out that suggested that Chamomile tea could regulate blood sugar levels and thus protect against some of the common complications of diabetes.
Other effects - There is some evidence that suggests that chamomile may have antimicrobial effects, antimutagenic properties, and may be able to lower cholesterol.
Most of the research on chamomile has been conducted on non-human animals, or in vitro, and more human studies would need to be done in order to firmly establish that these suggested effects actually carry through into a real world setting. However, chamomile tea has a long history of use in herbal medicine, and is generally safe for use as a beverage. Even if its health benefits do not turn out to be as strong as its historical use suggests, chamomile can still be appreciated as a soothing herbal tea.
Caution with Allergies:
Chamomile is in the composite (aster/daisy) family, a plant family also containing ragweed, mugwort, and a number of plants that people commonly have allergic reactions to. Cross-reactivity can produce allergic reactions to chamomile in people allergic to other plants in this family. Although uncommon, there have been cases of severe allergic reaction to chamomile tea. People at risk to have allergies to this plant family should thus be cautious when drinking chamomile tea or using any products in which chamomile is an ingredient.
Where to Buy Chamomile Tea:
Chamomile tea is widely available; most tea companies carry at least one pure chamomile tea, and many sell a number of herbal blends including chamomile as one ingredient among many. Although most supermarkets carry packaged chamomile teas in tea bags, it is more cost-effective to buy the herb loose or in bulk. Loose teas and herbs usually offer better prices and higher quality than prepackaged ones. In addition to finding it through tea companies, you can often obtain chamomile through bulk spice stores.
& Further Reading: Alex Zorach has an M.A. in statistics from Yale University, and is an avid tea drinker and the creator and editor-in-chief of RateTea, the first online community where anyone can rate and review teas, with a searchable database of teas classified by brand, style, and region. On this site, you can learn more about chamomile tea, including listings and reviews of different sources of chamomile tea, and more in-depth discussion of the health benefits of this herb, with detailed references to scientific articles.
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