“Peter was not very well during the evening. His mother put him to bed, and made some chamomile tea: one table spoonful to be taken at bedtime.”
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Chamomile can be consumed as a tincture (plant extracts processed in alcohol), as a dried encapsulated product, or as tea made from dried chamomile flowers. Chamomile contains 36 different flavonoids. These are phenolic substances with anti-oxidant effects. Flavonoids support the immune system. Apigenin, a flavonoid that is one of the most effective bioactive agents in chamomile, also acts as an anti-inflammatory.
After a harrowing escape from Mr. McGregor in which he loses his clothes, the immune boosting and anti-inflammatory benefits of chamomile is probably why Peter’s mother gave his some tea before bedtime. She may also have wanted to help him sleep better that night.
The relaxing property of chamomile tea is the main reason I recommend it to people. It can help people fall asleep and also seems to reduce anxiety. Some research suggests that chamomile binds to benzodiazepine receptors. Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that help induce sleep and reduce anxiety.
Chamomile can also help relax the muscles. A 2010 study found that drinking the tea daily reduced the month before menses reduced menstrual cramps. Likewise, daily use has demonstrated a positive effect on maintaining blood sugar levels in diabetics in conjunction with conventional medication. Using chamomile may help prevent complications form diabetes.
If you are peri-menopausal or past menopause, it might be a good time to start having a cup of chamomile tea every day. Chamomile appears to have a positive effect on maintaining adequate bone density.
Finally, Chamomile is frequently found as an ingredient in shampoo, bath, and skin product. That is because chamomile can be beneficial in minor skin irritations, like eczema and dermatitis.
Unless you are allergic to ragweed or the daisy family of plants, Chamomile seems to be one of those herbs that everyone should have available in their pantry for making tea. Make sure to purchase high quality organic product and don’t keep it on the shelf too long. The older the plant material, the more likely it is to lose its medicinal properties. One to four cups daily is typically recommended.