- A study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health suggests a correlation between chamomile consumption and longer lifespan, especially for older Mexican-American women.
- The research found the mortality rate reduced by around 28% for older Mexican-American women who consumed chamomile, with no similar impact noted for men.
- Chamomile is commonly recommended in alternative medicine for conditions including gastrointestinal distress and muscle spasms, but human research into the effects of herbal teas remain limited.
- This particular study focused solely on Mexican-American individuals aged over 65. Some criticisms include a lack of clarity around the type and quantity of chamomile consumed, and no broad or detailed information on participants’ overall diet.
- While some experts advise caution, the lead researcher of this study promotes chamomile consumption due to its low cost, widespread availability, and non-toxic nature. It’s important to note that chamomile may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
Recent research suggests that a correlation might exist between chamomile consumption and longer lifespan, specifically in the case of older Mexican-American women.
A study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that among older Mexican-American women, the mortality rate reduced by approximately 28 percent for those who consumed chamomile. “Drinking chamomile tea can potentially enhance the health of Mexican-American women,” stated the lead researcher of this study, Bret Howrey, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
However, while the research indicated a possible link between chamomile consumption and longer lifespan, it did not demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship. Some nutrition specialists also pointed out potential flaws in the research’s conclusions.
Chamomile in Alternative Medicine
Chamomile is a common herb in alternative medicine and is frequently suggested for treating conditions such as gastrointestinal distress and muscle spasms. Yet, there have been “few well-designed and controlled human studies conducted on the effects of herbal teas or herbal preparations,” according to Diane McKay, an assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
In this particular study, investigators examined data from nearly 1,700 Mexican-American individuals from the Southwest United States, all aged above 65, monitored from 2000 till 2007. About 14 percent of the participants reported using chamomile. However, it did not seem to impact the longevity of men in this study.
After adjusting for factors such as age, smoking and chronic health conditions, the researchers discovered that the odds of mortality during the study period reduced by slightly over a quarter for women who consumed chamomile.
Chamomile and Lifespan
The reasons as to why chamomile might impact longevity and overall health remain uncertain. “Our understanding of chamomile is still really in its infancy,” explained Howrey.
He further clarified that this study does have limitations: It is entirely based on a Mexican-American community, and lacks information about the participants’ overall diet. Therefore, the women who consumed chamomile could have a healthier diet overall, although the study did try to account for factors like fitness and weight.
Objections to the Study
McKay commented that the study is “deeply flawed” and she stated that the findings do not support the hypothesis that chamomile affects lifespan. She expressed her concern that the method of chamomile consumption was not clarified in the study: “We can’t say for sure whether these women drank the same chamomile tea we find on our store shelves, or even the amount and frequency. No information was collected on the actual form of chamomile used.”
However, despite these criticisms, Howrey still encourages chamomile consumption as it is “generally non-toxic, relatively inexpensive, and widely available.” He warned that some individuals may be allergic to chamomile, especially those with allergies to similar plants such as ragweed.
The findings of this study were published in the journal The Gerontologist.
The research team is still continuing to track the older Mexican-Americans. An additional, more extensive study would be required to identify any slow-manifesting benefits derived from brewed chamomile.
To learn more about chamomile, visit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.