Chamomile (American English) or camomile (British English; see spelling differences) (/ˈkæməml, -ml/ KAM-ə-myle or KAM-ə-meel[1][2]) is the common name for several daisy-like plants of the family Asteraceae. Two of the species, Matricaria chamomilla and Chamaemelum nobile, are commonly used to make herbal infusions for beverages.[3][4][5] There is insufficient scientific evidence that consuming chamomile in foods or beverages has any beneficial effects on health.[4][5]

German chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla
Roman chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile


The word chamomile is derived via the French and Latin, from the Greek χαμαίμηλον, khamaimēlon, 'earth apple', from χαμαί, khamai, 'on the ground', and μῆλον, mēlon, 'apple'.[6][7] First used in the 13th century, the spelling chamomile corresponds to the Latin chamomilla and the Greek chamaimelon.[7] The spelling camomile is a British derivation from the French.[7]


Loose-leaf chamomile tea

Some commonly used species include:

  • Matricaria chamomilla – often called "German chamomile" or "Water of Youth"[8]
  • Chamaemelum nobile – Roman, English, or garden chamomile; also frequently used (C. nobile Treneague is normally used to create a chamomile lawn)[9]

A number of other species' common names include the word chamomile. This does not mean they are used in the same manner as the species used in the herbal tea known as "chamomile". Plants including the common name chamomile, of the family Asteraceae, are:


Chamomile tea being served at the Savoy Hotel in London, England
Matricaria chamomilla flower heads separated from stems for herbal tea

Chamomile may be used as a flavoring agent in foods and beverages, mouthwash, soaps, or cosmetics.[5] It is used to "upholster" chamomile seats, raised beds which are about half a meter tall, and designed to be sat upon.[10] Chamomile lawns are also used in sunny areas with light traffic.[11]


Chamomile tea is a herbal infusion made from dried flowers and hot water, and may improve sleep quality.[3] Two types of chamomile used are German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).[3]

Use in beer and ale

Chamomile has historically been used in making beer and ale.[12] Unlike for tea, in which only the flowers are used, the whole plant has been used to make beers and ales, adding a bitter flavor component favored by craft breweries and homebrewers.[13][14]


The main constituents of chamomile flowers are polyphenol compounds,[8] including apigenin, quercetin, patuletin, and luteolin.[15] Chamomile is under preliminary research for its potential anti-anxiety properties.[8] There is no high-quality clinical evidence that it is useful for treating insomnia[16] or any disease.[3]

Drug interactions

The use of chamomile has the potential to cause adverse interactions with numerous herbal products and prescription drugs and may worsen pollen allergies.[5] People who are allergic to ragweed (also in the daisy family) may be allergic to chamomile due to cross-reactivity.[3]

Apigenin, a phytochemical in chamomile, may interact with anticoagulant agents and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,[17] while other phytochemicals may adversely interact with sleep-enhancing herbal products and vitamins.[5]

Chamomile is not recommended to be taken with aspirin or non-salicylate NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), as it may cause drug–herb interaction. Chamomile consists of several ingredients including coumarin, glycoside, herniarin, flavonoid, farnesol, nerolidol and germacranolide. Despite the presence of coumarin, as chamomile's effect on the coagulation system has not yet been studied, it is unknown whether a clinically significant drug–herb interaction exists with antiplatelet/anticoagulant drugs. However, until more information is available, it is not recommended to use these substances concurrently.[18]

Chamomile should not be used by people with past or present cancers of the breast, ovary, or uterus; endometriosis; or uterine fibroids.[5]

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Because chamomile has been known to cause uterine contractions that can invoke miscarriage, pregnant women are advised to not consume Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).[4] Although oral consumption of chamomile is generally recognized as safe in the United States, there is insufficient clinical evidence about its potential for affecting nursing infants.[5]


The chamomile plant is known to be susceptible to many fungi, insects, and viruses. Fungi such as Albugo tragopogonis (white rust), Cylindrosporium matricariae, Erysiphe cichoracearum (powdery mildew), and Sphaerotheca macularis (powdery mildew) are known pathogens of the chamomile plant. Aphids have been observed feeding on chamomile plants and the moth Autographa chryson causes defoliation.

Historical descriptions

The 11th century part of Old English Illustrated Herbal has an illustrated entry.[19] Nicholas Culpeper's 17th century The Complete Herbal has an illustration and several entries on chamomel.[20][21]

In culture


  1. Jones, Daniel (2003) [1917], Peter Roach; James Hartmann; Jane Setter (eds.), English Pronouncing Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-3-12-539683-8
  2. "Chamomile". Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  3. "Chamomile". National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, US National Institutes of Health. September 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  4. "Roman chamomile". MedlinePlus, US National Institutes of Health. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  5. "Chamomile". 9 October 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  6. χαμαίμηλον. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  7. "Chamomile". Online Etymology Dictionary. 2019.
  8. Sarris, J; Panossian, A; Schweitzer, I; Stough, C; Scholey, A (December 2011). "Herbal medicine for depression, anxiety, and insomnia: a review of psychopharmacology and clinical evidence". European Neuropsychopharmacology. 21 (12): 841–860. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2011.04.002. PMID 21601431. S2CID 16831869.
  9. "Camomile lawn". The Royal Horticultural Society. 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  10. Signage at The Sensory Garden, Buckfast Abbey (image)
  11. "Chamomile lawns".
  12. Grieve, Maude (1931). A Modern Herbal.
  13. "Chamomile Beer List". RateBeer. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  14. "Brewing Wildflower Wheat". Brewer's Friend. July 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  15. McKay, D. L.; Blumberg, J. B. (2006). "A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita L.)". Phytotherapy Research. 20 (7): 519–30. doi:10.1002/ptr.1900. PMID 16628544. S2CID 21041569.
  16. Leach, Matthew J.; Page, Amy T. (2015). "Herbal medicine for insomnia: A systematic review and meta-analysis". Sleep Medicine Reviews. 24: 1–12. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2014.12.003. ISSN 1087-0792. PMID 25644982.
  17. Miller, LG (1998). "Herbal medicinals: selected clinical considerations focusing on known or potential drug-herb interactions" (PDF). Arch. Intern. Med. 158 (20): 220–2211. doi:10.1001/archinte.158.20.2200. PMID 9818800.
  18. Abebe, W. (1 December 2002). "Herbal medication: potential for adverse interactions with analgesic drugs". Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. 27 (6): 391–401. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2710.2002.00444.x. ISSN 0269-4727. PMID 12472978. S2CID 1828900.
  19. "Cotton MS Vitellius C III". British Library Digitised Manuscripts. p. 29.
  20. Culpeper, Nicholas (1600s). The Complete Herbal.
  21. "[Illustration on Project Gutenberg]". Retrieved 1 December 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. Michael Castleman The New Healing Herbs: The Classic Guide to Nature's Best Medicines ... at Google Books
  23. James Minahan. The complete guide to national symbols and emblems, Vol. 1. Greenwood Press. 2009.
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