What is Chamomile Extract?

Daniel Judd BSc MBiol

What is chamomile extract?

Chamomile extract is a mixture of the many natural oils and other substances produced in chamomile flowers. Chamomile has a long history of use in herbal medicine and is still thought to have a range of beneficial properties including anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-anxiety activities, although not all of these have much evidence to back them up. Some of the more important ingredients found in chamomile extract include bisabolol and a group of molecules called flavonoids.

Chamomile extract smells similar to apple blossom so is sometimes used to add fragrance to a product. It also contains a chemical that acts as a blue dye and can be used to colour products.

Besides being used to produce an extract, chamomile flowers are also dried and brewed as a tea.


How does it work?

In general, studies done to test whether chamomile extract actually does any of the things mentioned above are few and far between. It has been shown on human subjects that the chemicals found in chamomile extract can indeed absorb into the deeper layers of the skin, an important first step in using something as a topical treatment.

There have been several tests on either animals or extracted human cells to check whether chamomile extract works as an anti-inflammatory. They showed that chamomile extract can interfere with certain enzymes responsible for inflammation and stop them from working, reducing the inflammation response in treated areas.

Similar tests have shown that in a test tube, chamomile extract can work as an antioxidant but whether this is true once inside the human body remains to be seen.

Certain chemicals in chamomile extract are also thought to interact with the nervous system in order to cause the anti-anxiety effect.



What are the side effects?

It’s possible to have an allergic reaction to chamomile extract if you are allergic to chamomile or the related plant ragweed.

There are concerns that the Roman chamomile species can cause uterine contractions and miscarriage, the US National Institutes of Health advise against pregnant women consuming Roman chamomile.

Interactions with other medicines:

Chamomile extract contains chemicals which interfere with how your body breaks down medicines. A wide range of medicines are all metabolised by one enzyme which chamomile extract can interfere with, giving you a much larger effective dose of any pharmaceuticals affected. As such, you should consult with a doctor before taking using chamomile extract in combination with other medicine.

Other names for chamomile extract

Chamomile extract; chamomile extract, German; chamomile extract, Hungarian; Chamomilla recutita; Chamomilla recutita extract; Matricaria chamomilla extract; Matricaria extract; Wild chamomile extract