What Everybody Ought To Know about Chamomile Tea for Babies
When my baby was little, she had episodes of fussiness at night, so one of my friends suggested chamomile tea for babies because she thinks it was colic that’s causing all the crying.
I did not buy the idea right away (even though she is my trusted friend) because I want to make sure I’m not harming my little one in any way.
Instead, I did what I do best: research.
After researching, I asked my daughter’s pediatrician about it, so I’m sharing with you what I learned.
What’s in Chamomile Tea for Babies?
There are two types of chamomile with the same effects, according to LactMed: the German chamomile and Roman chamomile. The former has the scientific name Matricaria recutita and the latter has Chamaemelum nobile.
While both are sold as chamomile, the Roman chamomile is known as the “true chamomile” while the German is “false chamomile.”
Nonetheless, the two have similar ingredients and uses: sesquiterpenes--the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial (bactericidal) elements, sesquiterpene lactones--also anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, flavonoids--an antioxidant, and volatile oils or most commonly referred to as essential oils.
The difference between the two are mostly the concentration of the ingredients, how tall they grow, and where they grow.
Chamomile Tea for Babies: The Facts
1. It’s safe.
The US Food and Drug Administration labels chamomile as “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS. But note that this applies to it being a flavoring, seasoning, or spice.
Moreover, it has been proven safe and effective to treat some stomach problems such as colic and diarrhea. I will explain this in detail below.
Note, however, that according to drugs.com, The FDA does not require extensive pre-marketing approval for dietary supplements. This means that dietary supplements are ensured safe but not necessarily proven safe. I hope you get what I mean.
2. It works.
Another good news about chamomile tea for babies it that it works, says an article written by Paula Gardiner, MD. There have been studies that show chamomile used as it is or mixed with other herbs works for colic, diarrhea, and dyspepsia.
Two of the studies that show the effectiveness of chamomile for colic treatment were conducted several years ago, but they still hold true today.
In the first clinical trial is a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. The test was conducted on 68 healthy term infants, who are two to eight weeks old, suffering from colic. They were given either herbal tea or placebo tea.
The herbal tea contains German chamomile, vervain, licorice, fennel, and balm mint while the placebo tea is merely a combination of glucose and flavoring.
After 7 days of giving the infants up to 150mL/dose, 57% of those given herbal was treated while only 26% for the placebo tea.
The second clinical trial was conducted on 93 breastfeed yet colicky infants using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled methods.
Some were given a mixture of chamomile, fennel, and lemon balm; some were given placebo.
The results of the trial shows that infants who were given the chamomile mixture reduced their crying by up to 85.4% while the placebo group’s reduction was 48.9%.
There are other studies that show the benefits of chamomile tea for babies in the reference section of this article.
Chamomile has also been used to treat diarrhea in children in two clinical trials. One is a prospective, double-blind, randomized, controlled multicenter study and the other is a follow-up multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel study.
In the first trial, 79 children aged 6 months to 5 years were given either a combination of apple pectin and chamomile fluid extract or placebo for three days. The apple-chamomile combination was standardized to 2.5g/100g of chamazulene.
These children are suffering from acute yet non-complicated diarrhea. Also, they were provided with standard medication for diarrhea throughout the trial period.
The results indicate that those who received the apple-chamomile liquid had a decrease in diarrhea although the parents showed a nonsignificant trend in satisfaction.
The follow up trial was conducted among 255 children. They were given the same medical treatment and apple-chamomile mixture or placebo. The results indicate that experimental group had a significant decrease in stool frequency.
Adults have been using a combination of chamomile, peppermint, anise, fennel, and other herbs to treat dyspepsia. So far, the results are promising. However, there is no study published that it has the same effect on children.
7. It may Cause Allergic Reactions.
Despite the positive effects of chamomile tea for babies and adults, experts say that it’s possible for your little ones to have allergic reactions to it. This is particularly true if any in your family is allergic to aster family.
Hence, before giving any chamomile to your babies, conduct a patch test on your little one’s skin.
Also, if your baby has rashes, use chamomile tea with caution, as there have been reports that it can aggravate skin rashes and may cause anaphylaxis.
8. There May be Drug Interactions.
If your little one is using cyclosporine, warfarin, sedatives, and anxiolytic medications, use chamomile with caution. There are reports that chamomile interacts with them, inhibiting their activities.
How Much Chamomile Should You Give?
It’s best to ask your doctor about this, but this article says it should be 0.6 mL to 2 mL, three times daily, for babies. For adults, it can be 1 to 4 mL, three times a day.
Chamomile Tea and Breastfeeding
You might be wondering if you can drink chamomile tea instead because anyway you are breastfeeding, and the baby may absorb it.
The answer is not definitive as of this writing. According to experts, there has been no relevant published information thus far.
Before I end this article, I would like to leave a word of caution to us, parents.
Chamomile works. There's no questioning that.
As mentioned earlier, manufacturers of chamomile dietary supplements are not required to prove their products safe; they just have to ensure safety.
Also, the manufacturing company uses different herb combinations in their products. Hence, one positive study on one brand does not mean positive results on all chamomile products.
In other words, always ask your doctor before giving chamomile tea for you babies.