Chamomile for Infection, Wound Healing, and Skin Care

Topically, chamomile’s antioxidant polyphenols can assist with wound healing and restoration of a breached skin barrier. Since polyphenols extract well into water, a compress soaked in strong chamomile tea and applied to, say, a sunburn, may assist with quicker healing.

A similar compress, or even a wet tea bag, can be used on skin lesions such as acne, styes, or eczema; this is because in addition to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, chamomile is also antimicrobial. Since a breached skin barrier often leads to opportunistic infection by normal skin flora, topical chamomile may assist the healing process in multiple ways. The essential oil has been studied for its antihistamine purposes for atopic lesions as well (see below).

Chamomile’s antioxidant properties have also been utilized topically for reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.

Chamomile for Allergies

There is evidence that chamomile stabilizes mast cells, thus decreasing release of histamine for those who suffer from allergies, those with histamine intolerance, and as an adjunctive treatment for those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Disorder. These effects were observed from the alcohol tincture extract form.

The Upshot

Chamomile tea is consumed worldwide in large quantities for a reason, though it’s helpful to know which effects you’re after to help choose the most appropriate extraction method.

Bioflavinoids apigenin and quercetin are water soluble, which means they will easily be extracted into a tea. These are helpful for anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, antioxidant, and sedative properties.

Essential oil components chamazulene and bisabolol do not extract as well in water. These are better consumed either in powder or capsules made from the whole dried flowers, an alcohol extract, or using the essential oil itself (diffused or topically). These have been observed to protect against ulcers, and to stabilize mast cells.

While chamomile is generally recognized as safe, some recommend caution with consumption of chamomile in high doses during the first trimester of pregnancy.

If you’re consuming chamomile as a tea, but still wish to reap some of the benefits of the essential oils, the better choice is whole leaf tea, which you can get by purchasing the whole dried flowers. Dosing is 1-2 tsp of flowers per 8 oz, and allow to steep for 15 minutes before straining. Prepackaged tea bags should still be high in polyphenol content, but the pulverized flowers means more of the essential oils will have evaporated.