Chamomile has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory activity, as well as moderate antioxidant, antimicrobial, antispasmotic, anti-anxiety, cholesterol-lowering and antimutagenic properties. Chamomile contains the flavonoids apigenin, quercetin, patuletin, and luteolin. Chamomile tea, which is brewed from dried chamomile flower heads, has traditionally been used for promoting relaxation. Frequent consumption of chamomile tea has been found to reduce the progress of hyperglycemia and diabetic complications. Only traces of chamomile essential oil are found in chamomile tea.
Cancer-related effects of eating chamomile
Apigenin has been shown to induce apoptosis in human skin, thyroid, gastric, liver, colon, cervical, and prostate cancer cells, and to inhibit migration and invasion of ovarian cancer cells. Apigenin has also been shown to exhibit potent growth-inhibitory effects in HER2/neu overexpressing breast cancer cells. The growth-inhibitory effects of apigenin are less powerful for those cells expressing normal levels of HER2/neu. Luteolin has been shown to induce apoptosis in oral cancer calls, to promote cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in colon cancer cells, and to inhibit insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor signaling in prostate cancer cells.
A major Italian population study including 2,569 women with breast cancer found that the risk of breast cancer was reduced for increasing intake of flavones (e.g., apigenin, luteolin, tangeritin) and flavonols (e.g., fisetin, quercetin, patuletin, myricetin, kaempferol), including those found in chamomile.
Chamomile essential oil exhibits virucidal activity against genital herpes when applied topically. However, allergic reactions to chamomile in a form of contact dermatitis are not unusual and anaphylactic reactions have also been reported.
Drinking chamomile tea can interfere with the absorption of dietary iron. Apigenin and other flavonoids may be present in chamomile tea, but the content varies greatly between tea brands. Several studies have found chamomile mouthwash not to be an effective treatment for mouth ulcers arising from chemotherapy.
Note that while we are continually searching for new evidence specifically concerning this food, there is not much interest in it among breast cancer researchers, so few studies are available.