Chamomile is an herb that's commonly made into tea, although “hot infusion” is a more accurate term because chamomile is not a tea plant. Unlike black and green teas, herbal infusions do not contain caffeine, which is a well-known nervous system stimulant and diuretic. However, chamomile does contain other compounds that exhibit mild diuretic properties, which cause your body to lose water by stimulating more frequent urination. Consult with your doctor before intentionally using large doses of diuretics for weight loss or any medical condition.
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Diuretics cause forced diuresis, or increased water absorption, within your kidneys, which increases the rate of urination. There are several categories of diuretics based on how and where they affect your kidneys, but all diuretics increase the excretion of water from your body. Caffeine is the most commonly consumed compound with strong diuretic properties. Diuretics can be beneficial for congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, hypertension, inflammatory conditions and certain kidney diseases, according to the book “Human Biochemistry and Disease.” However, diuretics are also abused for weight loss purposes and can lead to dehydration, mineral and electrolyte imbalances and changes in pH levels.
Chamomile is a slightly bitter flowering herb indigenous to many places in Europe and Asia. Fresh and dried chamomile flowers are commonly used to make herbal infusions or “tea.” Chamomile is consumed hot and cold and can be applied to the skin for various benefits. Ground chamomile flowers are also available as oral capsules and liquid extracts are made from its fresh flowers and leaves. Chamomile contains no caffeine and does not disrupt sleep cycles, so it is considered appropriate for consumption prior to going to bed.
According to “The New Healing Herbs” by Michael Castleman, chamomile displays mild diuretic properties and has been traditionally used in countries such as Turkey to treat bladder problems, menstrual cramps, lung congestion, inflammation and edema. Chamomile is also considered a mild laxative.
Chamomile is probably best known and used as a sleep aid and to combat insomnia, because it has a calming effect on the nervous system. According to “Medical Herbalism” by David Hoffman, other properties displayed by chamomile include anti-inflammatory, mild antimicrobial and muscle relaxing effects. Specifically, chamomile contains bisabolol, an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, and chrysin, a flavonoid that induces relaxation and sleepiness. As such, chamomile is also used to promote digestion, reduce intestinal parasites, combat anxiety and help with the symptoms of rheumatism. Although chamomile is typically consumed at night, its mild diuretic properties might cause sleep disruption because of the need to urinate. So drink it in moderation, and try to empty your bladder just prior to going to bed.