. Allergopedia

Allergy to chamomile tea

Αγγελιδάκης Γεώργιος
Ωτορινολαρυγγολόγος, Αθήνα

Chamomile [Matricaria], Χαμομήλι, Χαμαίμηλο, Χαμόμηλο. The term chamomiles is used to mean a large group of species belonging to the Compositae family. The most important of them is Matricaria Chamomilla given that the solution made from its dried flower heads (chamomile tea) has been available commercially and is now a common drink worldwide. Chamomile is used as a familiar remedy for treating insomnia, indigestion, and menstrual disorders, as well as other afflictions and recently has been used in treating migraine[1]. Chamomile has a mild antiphlogistic and bacteriostatic property. It has been used in treating epidermolysis bulosa, eczema, eye irritation, throat discomfort, and hemorrhoids. Several shampoo, hair rinses, and vegetable hair dyes contain chamomile.

Cases of anaphylaxis have been described following ingestion of Chamomile, through a type I immunologic mechanism. It has been reported IgE activity against Matricaria chamomilla pollens. Also, allergic contact dermatitis (type-IV-allergic reaction) has occurred is subjects who have handled this plant or who have used compresses of chamomile or chamomile ointment. However, only a few cases of anaphylactic reaction to camomile have been described in the literature. Chamomile tea eye washing can induce allergic conjunctivitis and lid angioedema Matricaria chamomilla pollens contained in these infusions are the allergens responsible for these reactions. It is confirmed the presence of a type-I allergy to orally ingested camomile and indicates that the incidence and risk may be underestimated.

Additional response to mugwort and pollen-derived food allergens should be evaluated in patients sensitised to camomile due to a higher incidence of allergic cross-reactivity[2]. de la Torre Morín F, et al (2001) in their study confirms a high degree of in vivo cross-reactivity between A. vulgaris and M. chamomilla. Sensitization to A. vulgaris seems to be a primary risk factor for experiencing symptoms after the ingestion of chamomile infusions. Based on the results of bronchial provocation tests, M. chamomilla pollen could be a relevant inhalant allergen[3].


1. Subiza J. et al: Allergic conjunctivitis to chamomile tea. Ann. Allergy 65;127-132, 1990.

2. Andres C, Chen WC, Ollert M, Mempel M, Darsow U, Ring J. Anaphylactic reaction to camomile tea. Allergol Int. 2009 Mar;58(1):135-6. Epub 2008 Dec 1.

3. de la Torre Morín F, Sánchez Machín I, García Robaina JC, Fernández-Caldas E, Sánchez Triviño M. Clinical cross-reactivity between Artemisia vulgaris and Matricaria chamomilla (chamomile). J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 2001;11(2):118-22.

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