Chamo chamo chamomile-on

Posted by on Apr 16, 2010 in anxiety, depression, herbal medicine | 2 comments


Is chamomile the ultimate chameleon, good for both anxiety in depression?

Back in February, I posted information about a small study that showed that a daily chamomile tablets (containing 220 mg of pharmaceutical grade extract) significant reduced anxiety and improved well-being among postmenopausal women. Thanks to a fellow reporter and Twitter colleague Miriam Tucker, I learned that the researchers of this study presented findings at a recent Anxiety Disorders of American meeting that might be of equal interest, i.e. that benefits of chamomile might extend to depression as well.

In a second part of this study, the researchers looked at the effect of chamomile on the same women who currently suffered from anxiety and depression, who had a past history of depression or who had never had depressive symptoms. Although the results were not as striking as in the first study, they did see what they characterized as meaningful reductions in depression ratings among women who had both anxiety and depression. Across all the groups, the researchers observed significant declines in depressed mood, guilt and thoughts of suicide).

Women entering perimenopause have twice the risk for developing depressive symptoms than during other phases of their lives. Researchers have also shown that attitude towards menopause can also increase the risk. While various interventions including antidepressants, exercise and maybe even moderate intake of red wine may help, it’s wonderful to know that scientists are seriously looking into the role of chamomile and studying it under controlled conditions to prove or disprove its power over our moods.

Is chamomile the ultimate panacea when it comes to mood swings and the blues? Perhaps not. But it may provide a wonderful option to women and men alike, who are seeking solutions out of the medicine cabinet.

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Wednesday Bubble: easy does it…with chamomile

Posted by on Feb 24, 2010 in anxiety, herbal medicine | 4 comments

Love love love this week’s Bubble because I don’t have to burst it. Writing in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers say that chamomile is effective for mild to moderate anxiety. What’s more, this is the first time that the herb, which has long been known for its relaxation properties, has been subjected to rigorous, scientific study.

Anxiety is an integral part of the menopause experience, with many women experiencing mild nervousness or nervousness with depression, or full-blown anxiety attacks. Much of this anxiety is believed to be due to hormonal changes, and in fact, nearly half if not more of midlife women reportedly experience anxiety symptoms. Tension, depression and stress can all exacerbate persistent irritability, nervousness and mood swings. Moreover, having anxiety during the menopause transition has been linked to an increased risk for bothersome hot flashes.

In this latest study, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of German chamomile extract capsules (229 mg, up to five daily) compared to placebo in 57 women with mild to moderate anxiety. Dosing was individualized and based on each woman’s ability to tolerate the chamomile and its effect.  After 8 weeks, researchers observed a significant change in total anxiety rating scores in women taking the chamomile; these women also showed improvements in overall well being scores. The chamomile was well-tolerated.

Again, this is the first time that chamomile has been shown scientifically to improve mild to moderate anxiety symptoms. Obviously, a study with a larger group of women is needed to truly prove the effectiveness of chamomile, especially in women undergoing the menopause transition.

Chamomile – is it safe?

Chamomile, a member of the Asteraceae plant family, has been used in herbal remedies for thousands of years. In Europe, it is commonly used for digestive disorders. However, chamomile may cause allergic reactions that result in abdominal cramps, itching, skin rashes, and even throat swelling (anaphylaxis). Chamomile can also interfere with blood thinning medications such as Warfarin (an anticoagulant). Individuals who are allergic to  other plants in the Asteraceae family, including aster, chrysanthemum, mugwort, ragweed, and ragwort should avoid chamomile. Additionally, there have been reports of cross reactions celery, chrysanthemum, feverfew, tansy, and birch pollen.

Like any drug, speak to a licensed practitioner before trying chamomile to insure that you are a proper candidate and that you take the correct dosage for your problems.

Meanwhile, how wonderful to know that for women who can tolerate chamomile, there is a safe, scientifically proven alternative strategy to ease menopausal symptoms and irritability!

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