Chamomile extract may improve sleep among the elderly: RCT

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / jessicahyde
© Getty Images / jessicahyde

Related tags Randomized controlled trial Sleep

Daily supplements of a chamomile extract may improve sleep quality in the elderly, according to results of a randomized trial that supports the efficacy of chamomile.

“The findings of this study show that the use of chamomile extract can significantly improve sleep quality among elderly people,” ​wrote the researchers in the international, peer-reviewed journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine​.

“Given the high prevalence of sleep disturbances among elderly people and the adverse effects of hypnotic medications, chamomile extract can be used as a safe modality for promoting elderly people’s sleep.”

A growing consumer market

Consumer interest in sleep products is on the rise. Data from the Datamonitor Consumer 2014 survey found that “insomnia” was tied for the fourth most prominent health issue of American consumers ranked by percentage, coming in behind stress, tiredness and fatigue (which are related to sleep), and allergy. The most worried demographic when it comes to insomnia was middle-age women.

This has led to a rapid growth in the sleep aid category in the US, which is reported to be growing at almost 30% year-on-year and predicted to hit $732 million in 2018, according to Euromonitor International.

The category is dominated by P&G’s ZzzQuil, while natural products and dietary supplements (including melatonin and herbs like Valerian) only occupy a small portion of the market. However, market research data​ have repeatedly shown consumers would prefer a “natural” alternative to “synthetic” OTC products.

Leading the list of natural ingredients are melatonin, chamomile, valerian root, L-theanine, hops, lemon balm extract, and passion flower extract.

Study details

Sleep insomnia © Getty Images monkeybusinessimages
“Insomnia” was the fourth most prominent health issue of American consumers, according to a 2014 Datamonitor Consumer survey. Image © Getty Images / monkeybusinessimages

The new study supports the efficacy of chamomile (Matricaria recutita​) to help improve sleep in the elderly. The researchers recruited 60 people with a mean age of 70 to participate in their single-blind randomized controlled trial. The volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either 400 mg per day of chamomile extract or a placebo (wheat flour) for 28 consecutive days.

The data showed that, while the sleep quality in both groups was low at the start of the study, 28 days of supplementation with the chamomile extract significantly improved sleep quality, as measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and compared to the placebo group.

However, the chamomile extract did not lead to more sleep, which the researchers said may be linked to the short intervention period.

Commenting on the potential bioactives and mechanism(s) of action, the researchers wrote: “Chamomile extract includes different components such as apigenin, apigetrin, chamazulene, bisabolol, and farensen, of which, apigenin (a water-soluble component) binds benzodiazepine sites and causes tranquilizing effects in the central nervous system”

They concluded: “The use of chamomile extract can significantly improve sleep quality among elderly people. Thus, it can be used as a safe modality for promoting elderly people’s sleep.”

Source: Complementary Therapies in Medicine
December 2017, Volume 35, Pages 109-114, doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2017.09.010
“The effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people: A clinical trial”
Authors: M. Adib-Hajbaghery and S. Nesa Mousavi          

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