If you enjoy a cup of chamomile tea, you are not alone. More than a million cups of chamomile tea are sipped each day, notes the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Scientific research does not substantiate the herbal tea's purported benefits for insomnia, anxiety and indigestion. Additionally, chamomile is used in liquid extracts, capsules, tablets, creams and mouth rinses. Discuss the potential side effects and benefits of this herb with your physician before using chamomile tea.
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Avoid drinking chamomile tea if you take anticoagulant medications such as warfarin, heparin, clopidogrel, ticlopidine or pentoxifylline. Chamomile contains natural blood-thinning compounds that may present a risk for internal bleeding when combined with anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin. Do not substitute chamomile for your anticoagulant medication, as herbal supplements are not meant to replace the benefits of your conventional medication. Chamomile may interact with other medications by altering how they are metabolized in the body.
Do not drink chamomile tea if you have experienced an allergic reaction to plants belonging to the daisy family such as ragweed, chrysanthemums and marigolds. If you are allergic to the pollen found in these plants, you may have a similar reaction to chamomile. Chamomile may trigger other serious allergic reactions in some individuals that range from skin rashes to anaphylaxis. Additional allergic reactions are throat swelling and shortness of breath. Tell your doctor if you experience any of these side effects associated with chamomile.
If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, it is crucial to discuss the side effects of chamomile and to list other medications you may be taking. The long-term effects of most herbal supplements remain unknown, and chamomile has not been researched extensively in people. Although valid reports of toxicity do not suggest negative health effects for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or individuals with liver or kidney disease, the safety of chamomile has not been proven for these populations.
Although scientific research does not validate the use of chamomile tea to treat health conditions, some individuals use the herb to diminish the symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and gastrointestinal distress. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine emphasizes the importance of sharing any alternative products you plan to use, such as chamomile tea with your health care providers. Your doctor can address the risks presented by drug interactions, allergic reactions and the vulnerability of special populations. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require that research validate the benefits of herbal supplements such as chamomile.