Camomile tea: from colds to cramps

Researchers in England have found new evidence that camomile tea may help relieve a range of health ailments, including colds and menstrual cramps.

“This is one of a growing number of studies that provide evidence that commonly used natural products really do contain chemicals that may be of medicinal value,” says study leader Elaine Holmes, PhD.

The researchers found that drinking the tea was associated with a significant increase in urinary levels of compounds known as phenolics, some of which have been associated with increased antibacterial activity. This could help explain why camomile appears to boost the immune system and fight infections associated with colds, say the researchers.

Drinking camomile tea also was associated with an increase in urinary levels of glycine, an amino acid that has been shown to relieve muscle spasms. This may explain why the tea appears to be helpful in relieving menstrual cramps in women, probably by relaxing the uterus. Glycine also is known to act as a nerve relaxant, which may also explain why camomile tea seems to act as a mild sedative.

Source: American Chemical Society, Jan 4, 2005