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Complementary, Holistic, and Integrative Medicine: Chamomile

Chamomile is a common flowering plant and a member of the daisy family. There are two primary types: German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis). Most research has focused on German chamomile. Chamomile is one of the most widely used herbs in the world, especially in children. It is used topically for rashes, eczema, and hemorrhoids or orally as a mild sedative or for indigestion, diarrhea, and colic.

Dyspepsia: Chamomile often is combined with peppermint, anise, fennel, and other carminative herbs to treat stomachaches, gas, indigestion, and bloating. German chamomile has antiinflammatory and spasmolytic effects on the stomach and duodenum. No single product studies of chamomile as a treatment for upper gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in children have been published.

Diarrhea: Although oral rehydration therapy remains the mainstay of treatment for diarrhea in children, a few clinical trials have evaluated the efficacy of chamomile. In a prospective, double-blind, randomized, controlled multicenter study, 79 children from the ages of 6 months to 5.5 years who had acute, noncomplicated diarrhea were given either a liquid preparation containing apple pectin and chamomile fluid extract standardized to 2.5 g/ 100 g of chamazulene or placebo for 3 days. Both groups received standard medical treatment of hydration and electrolyte repletion. The chamomile and apple pectin combination decreased the diarrhea more frequently than did the placebo (P0.05). There was a nonsignificant trend in satisfaction of parents in the apple pectin/chamomile group.