In my quest to find a hot beverage to reduce my coffee consumption, I have fallen in love with chamomile tea. Coffee is not all bad since it contains antioxidants that are good for the body, but the caffeine it contains can sometimes be too much. When I drink more than 2 cups of coffee, I run the risk of headaches, and my hands start to shake. Chamomile tea is a great non-caffeinated alternative, and I enjoy its mild sedative effect. In the daytime when I’m working, it reduces my stress enough that I work at an optimal pace. At night time, chamomile tea for sleep is a great natural alternative to prescription sleep aids. Click on this link or scroll down below to check out my fresh chamomile tea recipe.
From Garden to Table
I grow a variety of herbs that are great for tea, and chamomile is one my favorite for calming the nerves. It can pretty much grow year-round, but I planted my first chamomile during the early spring. Summer can get a bit too hot to grow seeds in Southern California. From seed to flower, my crop took about three months to bloom. Chamomile flowers can be dried or used fresh when making teas. I enjoy picking fresh ones in the morning coupled with mint. After taking a zip, I always instantly feel relief from whatever stress I’ve been having that day. At night time, it helps me decompress and get a good night sleep.
Chamomile, also known scientifically as Chamomilla recutita, is native to Europe and Western Asia. Alternative names include German Chamomile, Hungarian chamomile, mayweed, sweet false chamomile, or wild chamomile. Today this herb has widespread application in the food and cosmetic industry. However, it’s also been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of disorders. In folk remedy, chamomile is purported to act as a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, antiseptic, anti-flatulence, and a sedative. Evidence-based studies reveal that chamomile contains bioactive ingredients that explain its use in folk medicine . Among the top herbs for sleep, chamomile ranks pretty well.
Polyphenols found in food and herbs have health benefits, and chamomile contains a few. It contains apigenin, quercetin, patuletin, luteolin, and glucosides. These compounds give chamomile its aroma and flavor. The essential oils extracted from the plant also contain terpenoids alpha-bisabolol and its oxides and azulenes, including chamazulene. Combined these compounds have reported antioxidant and antimicrobial activities, as well as antiplatelet activity. Although there are limited human trials, animal testing demonstrates that its anti-inflammatory capacity can lower cholesterol, treat muscle spasm, prevent DNA mutation that increases the risk for cancer.
Furthermore, chamomile tea has also shown a calming effect. It’s a sedative that helps with gastric distress and sleep disorders . The compound linked with the ability of chamomile to help with sleep is apigenin. By binding to benzodiazepine and GABA receptors, apigenin from chamomile can relieve anxiety, act as a muscle relaxant, and induce sleep .
Chamomile Health Benefits
- Sedative (sleep inducing)
- Anti-anxiety (sleep inducing)
- Lowers cholesterol
- Helps with gastrointestinal muscle spasm
- Inhibits gastric ulcers
- Relieves skin irritation associated with atopic dermatitis, eczema, radiation therapy and erythema
- Cancer preventing
- Protects the liver from harmful compounds (e.g., ceramide)
- Can inhibit production of tumors
- Prevents chemicals from mutating genes (cancer preventing)
Dried or fresh, chamomile can be infused or extracted for its essential oil. In cosmetics, it is an additive to soap, detergents, perfumes, lotions, ointments, and hair products. As an aromatherapy, it has been purported to induce pain relief, positive mood, and calmness. In culinary practice, it adds flavor and aroma to baked goods, pastries, and beverages. Tea preparation is the most straightforward and simple way to consume chamomile. When I’m tense, and I need help sleeping, I turn to chamomile tea. It settles my nerves and relaxes my muscles.
Chamomile Tea for Sleep Recipe
I love the idea of drying herbs for later use, but my urban garden in Los Angeles is so small that I can’t grow enough to produce a surplus. What I harvest from my garden is only enough for daily consumption. Hence my menu is always dependent on what is immediately available. For my herbal teas, I opt for fresh ingredients. Fresh chamomile flowers are very aromatic when prepared as a tea. Enjoy this chamomile tea for sleep recipe!
- 2 cups of boiling water
- 2 tbsp of fresh chamomile flowers
- 1 sprig of fresh mint (about 10-15 leaves).
- 1 teaspoon of honey, or to taste (optional)
Prep: 5 mins | Cook: 5 mins | Ready in 10 mins
- Bring two cups of water to a boil
- Separate the mint leaves from the stem, and dust off any debris from chamomile flowers. Place in an infuser teapot.
- Pour boiling water over chamomile flowers and mint leaves and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Stir in honey and enjoy!
Chef’s note: If you don’t have an infuser teapot, you can use a disposable tea bag that you can purchase in bulk on Amazon. For this recipe, you can also use dried flowers.