German chamomile is an herb. People use the flower head of the plant to make medicine.
German chamomile is used for intestinal gas, travel sickness, stuffy nose, hay fever, nervous diarrhea, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), fibromyalgia, restlessness, and trouble sleeping. It is also used for digestive system disorders, stomach ulcers, colic, and menstrual cramps.
Some people apply German chamomile directly to the skin for hemorrhoids; breast soreness; leg ulcers; allergic skin irritation; and bacterial skin diseases, including those of the mouth and gums. It is also used on the skin for treating or preventing damage to the inside of the mouth caused by chemotherapy or radiation; and to treat skin breakdown around colostomy appliances.
A form of German chamomile that can be inhaled is used to treat inflammation (swelling) and irritation of the respiratory tract.
In foods and beverages, German chamomile is used as flavoring.
In manufacturing, German chamomile is used in cosmetics, soaps, and mouthwashes.
Don’t confuse German chamomile with Roman chamomile.
How does it work?
German chamomile contains chemicals that might seem to promote relaxation and reduce swelling (inflammation).
Researchers aren’t sure which chemicals in German chamomile might cause relaxation.
German chamomile might reduce swelling by slowing the production of chemicals called prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and histamines. These chemicals are usually released to create a swelling response in the body.
Possibly Effective for:
- Upset stomach (dyspepsia), when a specific product (Iberogast, Medical Futures, Inc) that combines German chamomile with other herbs is used. The combination includes German chamomile plus peppermint leaf, clown's mustard plant, caraway, licorice, milk thistle, celandine, angelica, and lemon balm. This combination product seems to reduce the severity of acid reflux, stomach pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting. But it takes about 4 weeks of treatment to get these results.
- Colic in breast-fed infants when used in combination with other herbs. A specific product containing 164 mg of fennel, 97 mg of lemon balm, and 178 mg of German chamomile (ColiMil, Milte Italia SPA) taken twice daily for a week seems to reduce crying in breast-fed infants with colic.
- Treating or preventing swelling and deterioration (mucositis) of the mouth lining caused by radiation therapy and some types of chemotherapy, when used as a mouth rinse.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Preventing skin irritation caused by radiation used to treat cancer.
- Intestinal gas.
- Travel sickness.
- Nasal swelling (inflammation).
- Hay fever.
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Stomach and intestinal disorders.
- Menstrual cramps.
- Allergic skin irritation.
- Skin breakdown around colostomy appliances.
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & Safety
German chamomile is LIKELY SAFE when taken in amounts found in food. In fact, it has “Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)” status in the U.S. German chamomile is POSSIBLY SAFE for adults and children when taken by mouth for short periods of time as medicine. The long-term safety of German chamomile is unknown.
German chamomile can cause allergic reactions in some people. It is in the same plant family as ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and other related herbs.
When applied to the skin, German chamomile can cause allergic skin reactions. When applied near the eyes, German chamomile may cause eye irritation.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of German chamomile during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Allergies to ragweed or related plants: German chamomile may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family of plants. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many other herbs.
Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: German chamomile might act like estrogen in the body. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use German chamomile.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with GERMAN CHAMOMILE
Some birth control pills contain estrogen. German chamomile might have some of the same effects as estrogen. But German chamomile isn't as strong as the estrogen in birth control pills. Taking German chamomile along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you take birth control pills along with German chamomile, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom.
Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.
- Estrogens interacts with GERMAN CHAMOMILE
Large amounts of German chamomile might have some of the same effects as estrogen. But large amounts of German chamomile aren't as strong as estrogen pills. Taking German chamomile along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.
Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
- Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with GERMAN CHAMOMILE
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
German chamomile might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking German chamomile along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking German chamomile, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.
- Sedative medications (Benzodiazepines) interacts with GERMAN CHAMOMILE
German chamomile might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Drugs that cause sleepiness and drowsiness are called sedatives. Taking German chamomile along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Some of these sedative medications include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Versed), temazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion), and others.
- Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with GERMAN CHAMOMILE
German chamomile might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking German chamomile along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Some sedative medications include pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital (Luminal), secobarbital (Seconal), fentanyl (Duragesic, Sublimaze), morphine, zolpidem (Ambien), and others.
- Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) interacts with GERMAN CHAMOMILE
Some types of cancer are affected by hormones in the body. Estrogen-sensitive cancers are cancers that are affected by estrogen levels in the body. Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is used to help treat and prevent these types of cancer. German chamomile seems to also affect estrogen levels in the body. By affecting estrogen in the body, German chamomile might decrease the effectiveness of tamoxifen (Nolvadex). Do not take German chamomile if you are taking tamoxifen (Nolvadex).
- Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with GERMAN CHAMOMILE
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. German chamomile might increase the effects of warfarin (Coumadin). Taking German chamomile and warfarin (Coumadin) together might slow blood clotting too much and cause bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
Minor Interaction Be watchful with this combination
- Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates) interacts with GERMAN CHAMOMILE
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
German chamomile might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking German chamomile along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of these medications. Before taking German chamomile, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), haloperidol (Haldol), ondansetron (Zofran), propranolol (Inderal), theophylline (Theo-Dur, others), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, others), and others.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For upset stomach: A specific combination product containing German chamomile (Iberogast, Medical Futures, Inc) and several other herbs has been used in a dose of 1 mL three times daily.
- For damage to the inside of the mouth caused by chemotherapy or radiation treatments: A mouth rinse made with 10-15 drops of German chamomile liquid extract in 100 mL warm water three times daily.
- For colic: A specific multi-ingredient product containing 164 mg of fennel, 97 mg of lemon balm, and 178 mg of German chamomile (ColiMil, Milte Italia SPA) twice daily for a week.
- For skin breakdown around colostomy appliances, German chamomile solution has been applied on compresses for 1 hour, twice daily. The solution was prepared by steeping 6 grams of dried German chamomile flower heads in 150mL boiled water for 10 minutes.