Camomile tea may help you live longer
If you often drink a cup of camomile tea in the evening before going to bed, you might live longer. The idea comes from an epidemiological study that Bret Howrey of the University of Texas in Galveston will publish soon in The Gerontologist. Howrey studied Mexican Americans and discovered that, among Mexican women at least, drinking camomile tea seems to extend life expectancy considerably.
Camomile – scientific names Matricaria chamomilla and Matricaria recutita contains terpenoids, such as alpha-bisabolol, but also apigenin analogues and azulenes. This mix of substances has a sedative effect, which promotes good sleep if you drink a cup of camomile tea before going to bed. In addition, people who drink camomile tea tend to worry and fret less [J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2009 Aug;29(4):378-82.], and camomile reduces depression. [Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Sep-Oct;18(5):44-9.]
At the same time, cell and animal studies have shown that the components of camomile have a health-promoting effect. For example, alpha-bisabolol and the apigenin analogues in camomile inhibit cancer cell growth. [Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Mar 12;315(3):589-94.] [Mol Cell Pharmacol. 2009 Jan 1;1(3):138.]
In a review study, the nutritionist Janmejai Srivastava calls camomile "a herbal medicine of the past with a bright future". If you read the study you'll understand why after just a few paragraphs.
For his study Bret Howrey analysed data on 1677 Mexicans over the age of 65, all of whom lived in southern states of the US. 14 percent of them drank camomile tea at times. The data was gathered between 2000 and 2007.
The mortality risk of the Mexicans who drank camomile tea was 29 percent lower than that of the group as a whole, Howry discovered.
Among the women, drinking camomile tea reduced the mortality risk by 33 percent; among the men the effect of camomile was not statistically significant. This may be because the men drank considerably less camomile tea than the women, Howrey suspects.
"The question soliciting information on chamomile use asked about any use in the last 12 months but did not specifically request information regarding duration of use or frequency", the researcher wrote. "Thus, it is plausible that even if men reported use of chamomile they may have used it sporadically or at lower doses than women."
"Chamomile use among Mexican Americans was associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality", Howrey concluded. "The exact pathway for a reduction in mortality is unknown and represents an important area for future research. Studies with improved granularity in the measure of chamomile use in dosage and duration will lead to a better understanding of the role of chamomile in reduced mortality."
Gerontologist. 2015 Apr 29. pii: gnv051. [Epub ahead of print].
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