Here at Proper, we 🤓 nerd 🤓 out over the science of sleep. Years of rigorous research went into developing our products to directly support aspects of the mind and body that impact sleep quality. Our PhD-led formulations team looked for ingredients backed by multiple human clinical studies that verified the efficacy of the ingredient itself AND its dosage—with no conflicting findings. All were double-blind and placebo-controlled.

We’ve taken this same vigor and applied it here, to our ingredient guides that evaluate what the science says (and doesn’t say) about various vitamins, minerals, and herbs/natural botanicals. Some are in our products, others aren’t. The goal? Equip you with the know-how to make the most informed decisions for your personal sleep journey.

Chamomile is an ancient medicinal herb that’s typically found in one of two forms: German Chamomile or Roman Chamomile. It’s a member of the Asteraceae/Compositae family, which is also known as the daisy or sunflower family.

Chamomile is rich in flavonoids, a group of natural plant chemicals (aka phytonutrients) that, in addition to contributing to the vivid hues of fruits and vegetables, also contribute to its sleep-promoting effects.

Research indicates (1) that its mild sedative effects may be due to a specific flavonoid called apigenin, which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain that modulate GABA (a neurotransmitter that may support a reduction in stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness). When this happens, chamomile functions as a central nervous system relaxer (similar to valerian root). (2) Chamomile in extract and supplement form has been shown to improve sleep quality and may be effective and safe for supporting relaxation. (3-5)

Chamomile has been extensively studied, but not all the clinical trials have yielded consistent results.

  • Chamomile + insomnia
    In one randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study, (6) researchers set out to understand the efficacy and safety of standardized chamomile extract for chronic primary insomnia. Results showed no significant difference between the trial group and placebo control group in total sleep time, sleep efficiency, sleep latency, wake after sleep onset, sleep quality, and number of awakenings. Although there were modest advantages among the chamomile group on daytime functioning, it was not statistically significant, leading to the conclusion that “chamomile could provide modest benefits of daytime functioning and mixed benefits on sleep diary measures relative to placebo”…however further studies in select insomnia patients would be needed to investigate these conclusions.  

  • Chamomile + anxiety
    In a 2019 meta analysis, (7) researchers evaluated three randomized control trials on the efficacy of chamomile for the treatment of state anxiety and generalized anxiety disorders (GADs), with none of the trials showing any difference.

  • May help soothe gastrointestinal conditions
    Chamomile has been traditionally used (8) as a natural remedy for digestive disorders, colic, upset stomach, ulcers, and flatulence (gas). It’s particularly helpful in relaxing the muscles that usher food through the digestive system. However, it should be noted that most products contain chamomile in combination with other herbs. (9) 

  • May help treat atopic eczema
    Topical chamomile has been found (10) to be 60% as effective as 0.25% hydrocortisone cream in the treatment of atopic eczema. 

The fact that a supplement contains an ingredient is only one half of the equation. It’s also necessary to ensure that the ingredient is included at the dosage levels in which it has been proven effective.

Supplements backed by years of rigorous research

Proper formulations directly support aspects of the mind + body that impact sleep quality.

When administered in extract form as a dosage of 200mg twice a day, chamomile has been shown to have a positive effect on sleep quality. (11)

If you find that excitement or stress prior to bedtime prevents you from being able to wind down at night, then a cup of chamomile tea may be a welcome addition to your nightly routine for its calming effect.

Tea

Next time you’re brewing yourself a cup of post-dinner, caffeine-free herbal tea, reach for chamomile. When selecting a brand, remember that loose leaf teas may not always be better than “bagged” teas. While the former allows you to have more control over the serving size (i.e. the tea to water ratio) and can also be reinfused several times throughout the day, tea bags are often more convenient (because they’re pre-portioned) and easier to brew. 

READ MORE: 7 Best Teas For Sleep (including lemon balm, lavender tea, etc)

Essential oil

While chamomile may have you immediately thinking of bedtime tea, it also comes in the form of essential oil aromatherapy. Also known as volatile oils, essential oils are extracted from specific parts of the plant—in this case the chamomile flowers. They’re composed of a combination of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons, alcohol, ethers, and terpenes, which together produce signature scents. (12)

For the most part, essential oils are administered in small quantities via inhalation as users gently breathe them in through the nose. Alternatively, a few drops of essential oil can be applied topically by massaging the skin surface—although with this method, the concentrated oils are typically first diluted in a carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba oil. Essential oils should NOT be ingested orally.

READ MORE: 3 Best Essential Oils For Sleep, According To Science

Supplements

Chamomile can also be found in supplement form and marketed for sleep, digestion, and stress support. While it’s possible to find products only with chamomile extract, many supplements come with a combination of ingredients like L-theanine, valerian, passionflower, GABA, melatonin, etc.

READ MORE: The FDA Regulates Supplement Facts Differently Than Nutrition Facts. Here’s Why.

Side effects of chamomile are uncommon. If they do occur, they may manifest as nausea, dizziness, and allergic reactions. (13) Before starting any supplement, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider for personalized medical advice.

Evidence-backed ingredients + dosages

Proper has multiple human clinical studies verifying the efficacy of each ingredient AND dosage in our supplements—with no conflicting findings.

Chamomile tea may support relaxation and sleep quality; however, there is not definitive evidence supporting its impact on more serious sleep problems such as insomnia and anxiety. While it may not directly help, it can’t hurt—and given the relatively low risk of this natural herb, it can’t hurt to brew yourself a cup of chamomile tea with a touch of raw honey.

Interested in exploring alternative natural ingredients for sleep? We’ve got you covered: