Drugs Q & A

Is Chamomile Tea Safe During Pregnancy?

There are many reasons why you may want to reach for a cup (or two) of tea during pregnancy. It’s a soothing way to stay hydrated, and the tea itself is chock full of antioxidants that can help boost your immune system and even fight off cancer and heart disease.

When you’re pregnant, you have to make many changes, including what you eat and drink. It’s important to be aware of what you should (or shouldn’t) be consuming during pregnancy to ensure the safety and health of your baby. Pregnant women must drink more fluids than those who are not expecting, especially during the summer when the weather is hot.

It’s fair to wonder just which drinks or tea are safe to consume during pregnancy. Obviously, you should avoid alcoholic beverages as even drinking them in moderation raises your baby’s risk for fetal alcohol syndrome.

While some teas are considered safe during pregnancy, the effects of other tea on your unborn baby are unknown. Certain herbs can be most harmful to a developing baby when taken during the first three months of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. It can be hard to know if a herb or tea is safe for your baby because most teas are not studied in pregnant women.

What is Chamomile tea?

Chamomile tea is a popular beverage that also offers a variety of health benefits. Chamomile is an herb that comes from the daisy-like flowers of the Asteraceae plant family. It has been consumed for centuries as a natural remedy for several health conditions.

Chamomile has been used in many cultures for stomach ailments and as a mild sedative. A study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that new moms who drank chamomile tea every day for two weeks slept better (though they weren’t able to determine if the effects lasted long-term). Another small study published in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion found that elderly patients who took chamomile extract slept significantly better than those who didn’t. The thought is that a flavonoid found in chamomile, apigenin, binds to receptors in the brain that may help someone become sleepy. Some studies, primarily using combinations of chamomile with other plants, show it may have health benefits. However, as with any combination product, it is hard to say that a benefit comes from any one plant.

One product with chamomile and other herbal medicines has been shown to ease upset stomach, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting. Another mixture with chamomile seems to help colicky babies.

A mouth rinse with chamomile might relieve mouth sores caused by cancer treatments. Some research suggests that chamomile could help with other conditions, like diarrhea in children, hemorrhoids, anxiety, and insomnia. When used on the skin, chamomile might help with skin irritation and wound healing. Some research has documented that it may be as effective as hydrocortisone cream for eczema.

How to take chamomile tea?

To make chamomile tea, the flowers are dried and then infused into hot water. Many people enjoy chamomile tea as a caffeine-free alternative to black or green tea and for its earthy, somewhat sweet taste. Some people drink one to four cups daily. Chamomile tea can be consumed at any time of the day. To get the maximum benefits of chamomile tea and for it to aid in sleeping, it is best to consume it at night before sleeping. If you are diabetic, you could try having a cup of chamomile tea after your meals.

Is chamomile tea safe during pregnancy?

No, avoid chamomile tea if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant because it contains flavonoids that can trigger contractions which might lead to miscarriage or preterm birth.

In addition, teas including chamomile tea are not strictly tested or regulated. This means that women may be inadvertently drinking teas contaminated with unwanted compounds, such as heavy metals. A study that investigated the issues reported that women with the highest intake of green and herbal teas during the first trimester of pregnancy had 6–14% higher blood lead levels than those who drank the least. That said, all blood lead levels remained within the normal range.

Due to the lack of regulation, there’s also a risk of herbal teas containing ingredients not listed on the label. This increases the risk that pregnant women end up inadvertently consuming chamomile tea tainted with sedatives and other unknown ingredients that can be harmful to your baby.

What other important safety information do I need to know about chamomile tea?

Chamomile tea is likely safe when used in amounts commonly found in teas. It might be safe when used orally for medicinal purposes over the short term. The long-term safety of using chamomile on the skin for medicinal purposes is unknown.

Side effects are uncommon and may include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Allergic reactions

Rare cases of anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction) have occurred in people who consumed or came into contact with chamomile products.

People are more likely to experience allergic reactions to chamomile if they’re allergic to related plants such as ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies.

Interactions between chamomile tea and cyclosporine (a drug used to prevent rejection of organ transplants) and warfarin (a blood thinner) have been reported, and there are theoretical reasons to suspect that chamomile might interact with other drugs as well. Talk to your health care provider before taking chamomile if you’re taking any type of medicine.

Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions on chamomile tea.

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