Chamomile tea (also spelled as camomile tea) has a long history of use as medicinal herb, revered by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans for its soothing, relaxing properties. Chamomile tea is still enjoyed today to reduce stress, ease muscle tension and lower a high blood pressure.
Chamomile tea and blood pressure
Chamomile tea is made from the flower heads of the plant. These contain volatile essential oils and are also a rich source of antioxidant polyphenols. Chamomile has a number of beneficial actions that can lower blood pressure:
- chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic actions that help blood vessel walls to relax and dilate
- chamomile has an hypotensive effect by increasing fluid loss through the kidneys in a similar way to diuretic drugs
- chamomile has a relaxing, sedating action that lowers stress and anxiety and promotes sleep.
Chamomile tea reduces anxiety
In an extraordinary study, 12 people in hospital with heart disease, and who needed a pressure-measuring catheter placed within their heart ventricles as part of their standard treatment, agreed to drink a cup of chamomile tea beforehand as their only premedication.
The chamomile tea was made by placing two bags in 6 ounces of hot water for no more than ten minutes.
After drinking the tea, their blood pressure and heart function were carefully monitored. The workload of their heart did not change significantly.
Although their brachial blood pressure did rise as part of the anxiety of having the catheter fitted, the blood pressure within their left and right ventricles did not rise.
Within ten minutes of drinking the tea, however, ten of the twelve patients fell into a deep sleep. They could be aroused but immediately fell asleep again, until the end of the cardiac catheterization procedure, which lasted around 90 minutes.
This hynotic effect was described as ‘striking’ as it is unusual for patients to fall asleep before a heart catheterisation procedure due to the high anxiety involved.
Drinking chamomile tea is likely to be particularly helpful at night as its sedative action reduces anxiety and promotes sleep.
Chamomile tea for generalised anxiety disorder
People with moderate to severe generalised anxiety disorders can also benefit from drinking chamomile tea. In a medical study involving 93 people with generalised anxiety disorder, one group took a pharmaceutical grade chamomile extract (500mg capsule 3 times daily) and another took placebo for 26 weeks. At the end of the study, only 15.2% of those taking chamomile extracts relapsed, compared with 25.5% of those taking placebo. Thos in the chamomile group had significantly fewer anxiety symptoms, lost a significant amount of weight (through reduced comfort eating) and had a significantly lower blood pressure, too.
The researchers concluded that long-term use of chamomile was a safe and effective natural treatment for moderate-to-severe generalised anxiety disorder.
Inhaling Roman chamomile aromatherapy essential oil has also been shown to reduce anxiety in patients admitted to an intensive care unit following a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI – dilation of coronary arteries following a heart attack). The blend used was 6 parts lavender oil, 2 parts Roman chamomile oil and 0.5 parts neroli oil.
As a bonus, drinking chamomile tea regularly may help to reduce your risk of thyroid cancer, too.
Usual intakes are between one and three cups of chamomile tea per day.
How to make fresh chamomile tea
Chamomile tea made with fresh chamomile flowers is sweet with hints of apple, and tastes quite different to teas made with dried chamomile flowers.
Simply place 4 tablespoons freshly picked, organic chamomile flowers in a tea pot.
Pour over around 250ml boiling water.
Leave to infuse for 5 minutes.
Pour the tea through a strainer, and drink!
I like to add a sprig of fresh garden mint to this mix, too.
I drink chamomile tea every night before I go to bed and it really helps me to sleep well.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
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