Chamomile tea is a caffeine-free beverage made with boiled water and dried flowers of the chamomile herb. The tea is known for its soothing taste and therapeutic properties.
Breastfeeding mothers consider chamomile tea for its anti-depression, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and galactagogue effects. But, most of these effects are inadequately researched. In such a scenario, should you consume chamomile tea when breastfeeding?
In this post, we share the relevant information about consuming chamomile tea when breastfeeding, its safe use, possible health benefits, and more.
Is It Safe To Consume Chamomile Tea When Breastfeeding?
The US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) categorizes chamomile as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) to use as a spice, seasoning, or flavoring agent (1). However, the safety of chamomile tea for lactating mothers and nursing infants lacks clinical evidence. Therefore, consult a doctor or lactation expert before adding chamomile tea to your diet. Your healthcare provider can also guide you about the safe intake limit of the tea.
Does Chamomile Tea Increase Breast Milk Supply?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that chamomile tea has galactagogue effects (1) (2). But, the effects may vary among breastfeeding mothers. There is also insufficient research to establish its effects on breast milk production. The best way to increase milk production is through nursing on demand, or pumping regularly.
Possible Benefits of Chamomile Tea When Lactating
Consumption of chamomile tea may provide the following benefits to breastfeeding mothers.
- May give you a good sleep: A randomized clinical trial demonstrated the possible effectiveness of chamomile tea in alleviating depression and improving sleep quality in postpartum women (3). This effect is attributed to apigenin, a flavonoid that may promote sleep (4).
- May control anxiety and panic issues: A few pieces of research suggest that chamomile oil may have anti-depressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects (4) (5).
- May boost immunity: Some herbalists claim that chamomile tea can boost immunity and help fight infections associated with cold. However, clinical studies to validate this claim are insufficient (4).
- May improve digestive health: Chamomile has been used traditionally to treat gastrointestinal issues, such as indigestion, gas, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
- May enhance overall health: Research studies indicate the anti-diabetic and cardioprotective effects of chamomile tea (6) (7) (8). Bioactive compounds, like apigenin, quercetin, patuletin, luteolin, etc., have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects responsible for these benefits (9). Apart from these, flavonoids, like those found in chamomile tea, may help manage other conditions, such as osteoporosis (4) (10).
Consult your healthcare provider regarding the use of chamomile tea with a well-balanced breastfeeding diet to reap its health benefits.
How To Select Chamomile Tea?
If you are consuming chamomile tea, buy a good quality variety, and store it correctly.
- Buy tea manufactured by a reliable brand and sold at a trustworthy store. It ensures that you get unadulterated chamomile tea, processed with hygiene standards. Go for brands that are USDA-certified organic.
- Prefer tea bags to loose tea to avoid contamination. Loose chamomile tea sold in herbal stores may have contaminants, like spores, that may trigger allergic reactions. Teabags may minimize the risk of contamination. If you like loose tea, then choose a factory-sealed pack.
- Check the ingredient list for added ingredients. Several over-the-counter herbal teas contain more than one herb and other added ingredients. Star anise, buckhorn bark, comfrey, and senna are common additives to chamomile tea (11).
Store the tea bag or loose tea in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.
Precautions To Take While Consuming Chamomile Tea During Lactation
Observe the following precautions while making chamomile tea a part of your diet.
- Look out for any side effects when consuming the tea for the first time. Common side effects include nausea, dizziness, and abdominal discomfort.
- Prepare the tea as directed on the pack. Highly concentrated tea may cause nausea and vomiting.
- If you are on prescribed medication during lactation, then let the doctor know that you consume chamomile tea. It can help avoid any possible drug interactions.
- Do not pick chamomile tea or any herbal tea advertised to boost milk production without proper guidance. Such products are likely to have more than one herb and some added ingredients that may not be safe during lactation.
- Discontinue consuming chamomile tea if you develop allergy symptoms, such as wheezing, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, and skin rash (12). Chamomile allergy is likely to happen in individuals allergic to other plants in the daisy family, such as ragweed and chrysanthemum (4) (13).
Stop consuming the tea and consult a doctor if you notice any allergy symptoms in the baby or if the baby does not seem to be getting adequate milk.
Chamomile tea is mostly safe and seldom causes any problems, but it is good to consult a healthcare provider before adding it to your diet. Be alert to any side effects and allergy symptoms. Also, look out for any reactions in the baby. If there are no allergic reactions in you or the baby, you may continue to have it. Long-term consumption within safe limits might allow the lactating mother to enjoy the possible benefits of chamomile tea.
2. Fernando V Silva et al.; Chamomile Reveals to Be a Potent Galactogogue: The Unexpected Effect; NCBI
3. Shao-Min Chang and Chung-Hey Chen; Effects of an Intervention With Drinking Chamomile Tea on Sleep Quality and Depression in Sleep Disturbed Postnatal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial; NCBI
4. Janmejai K Srivastava et al.; Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future; NCBI
5. Jay D. Amsterdam et al.; Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) May Have Antidepressant Activity in Anxious Depressed Humans – An Exploratory Study; NCBI
6. Maryam Zemestani et al.; Chamomile Tea Improves Glycemic Indices and Antioxidants Status in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus; NCBI
7. M Rafraf et al.; Effectiveness of Chamomile Tea on Glycemic Control and Serum Lipid Profile in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes; NCBI
8. Selected Herbal beverages commonly consumed in different parts of the world; NCBI
9. Diane L McKay and Jeffrey B Blumberg; A Review of the Bioactivity and Potential Health Benefits of Chamomile Tea (Matricaria Recutita L.); NCBI
10. Connie M. Weaver et al.; Flavonoid Intake and Bone Health; NCBI
11. Infant Nutrition and Feeding Guide; USDA
12. Allergy information for: Camomile (Matricaria chamomilla); University of Manchester
13. Chamomile; University of Michigan