Chamomile tea is an herbal tea made from dried chamomile flowers. This medicinal plant is known for its antibacterial, anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory health properties. It is also thought to help with bowel problems.
Chamomile tea is touted for its qualities to help with everything from sleep to bowel problems. Some research has shown that chamomile tea helps with constipation, but the research is limited.
Chamomile Tea Good for Constipation?
Chamomile tea is usually made from German chamomile, a bushy shrub. It has historically been used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, stomach cramps, indigestion, diarrhea, gas and colic, according to the University of Illinois-Chicago.
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Today, chamomile is widely regarded in the natural health community as a dietary supplement for gastrointestinal conditions including constipation. According to the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the health effects of chamomile have not been well studied in people, including whether chamomile tea is good for constipation.
There is some research showing that combinations of herbs including chamomile may help stomach trouble, NCCIH says. "But chamomile alone has not been shown to be helpful for these conditions," says NCCIH. Many of the studies using chamomile look at stomach problems in general, while a few zero in on constipation.
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What Does Chamomile Do?
Chamomile may actually help to regulate contractions in the digestive system, possibly decreasing heartburn, said a study in the April 2015 issue of The Gerontologist. That could make it beneficial for bowel problems like constipation.
Constipation can be caused by slow muscle contractions in the large intestine, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. Although many studies on chamomile use liquid extract, chamomile may be consumed as an herbal tea, in capsule or in tablet form.
One recent study did specifically show benefits for constipation, but it was very small. An article in the January 2015 issue of Der Pharma Chemica discusses a study of 45 people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The 22 patients who experienced constipation did find relief from their constipation when given chamomile extract. After the extract was withdrawn, most found their constipation had returned.
Other Study Results
Chamomile, myrrh and coffee charcoal were effective, well tolerated and safe for people with acute diarrhea, said researchers in a January 2015 study in BMJ Open Gastroenterology. They found the effects to be comparable to more conventional remedies. Researchers studied patients in 131 family medical practices in Germany.
A study in the September 2016 issue of Electronic Physician showed that chamomile extract helped with diarrhea in rats, and that a combination of chamomile extract, myrrh and coffee charcoal is effective, well tolerated and safe for patients with acute diarrhea. Again, the authors said more studies should be carried out.
The World Journal of Gastroenterology reviewed combinations of herbal supplements used for stomach troubles for a January 2012 article. Iberogast, a Bayer Global product, was one. It combines nine herbal extracts, including chamomile, into a combination that targets stomach troubles, including constipation. Quality of life improved for the 208 IBS patients in the study, but the authors said further research is needed.
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More About Chamomile
NCCIH said chamomile can also be used as a topical skin application, either as a cream or ointment. In addition, it can be made into a mouth rinse. Some people take chamomile to soothe anxiety disorders. Preliminary studies show it may be helpful, NCCIH said.
Chamomile may trigger an allergic reaction in some people. NCCIH says allergic reactions have been reported, including some rare cases of anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction. Typically, those who are allergic are also allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds or daisies.
There have been reports of interactions between chamomile and cyclosporine, an anti-rejection drug taken by people who have had organ transplants, and chamomile and warfarin, a blood thinner. If you want to try chamomile for constipation or another type of gastrointestinal disorder, it's a good idea to discuss this with your doctor first.
- NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Chamomile"
- Harvard Health: "Herbal Remedies for Heartburn"
- University of Illinois Chicago Heritage Garden: "German Chamomile (Matricaria Ricutita)"
- The Gerontologist: "Chamomile Consumption and Mortality: A Prospective Study of Mexican Origin Older Adults"
- World Journal of Gastroenterology: "Complementary and Alternative Medicines in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Integrative View"
- Der Pharma Chemica: "Chamomile Efficacy in Patients of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome"
- BMJ Open Gastroenterology: "Efficacy and Safety of a Herbal Medicinal Product Containing Myrrh, Chamomile and Coffee Charcoal for the Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Non-Interventional Study"
- Electronic Physician: "A Systematic Review Study of Therapeutic Effects of Matricaria Recuitta Chamomile (Chamomile)"
- International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: "Motility Disorders"