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 Question mark: This treatment has not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.

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The rating system

  • 3 smiliesThese treatments are very useful. They are strongly supported as effective by scientific evidence.
  • 2 smiliesThese treatments are useful. They are supported by scientific evidence as effective, but the evidence is not as strong.
  • 1 smileyThese treatments are promising and may be useful. They have some evidence to support them, but more evidence is needed to be sure they work.
  • No smiley On the available evidence, these treatments do not seem to be effective.
  • Question markThese treatments have not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.
  • These treatments are not recommended and could be dangerousSafety or other concerns have been raised for the use of these treatments.

What is it?

Chamomile is a type of plant with small, daisy-like flowers. It is sold as a supplement in tablet form and the flowers can be dried and used to make herbal tea. 

How does it work?

The way that chamomile may work to relieve depression is unknown. It is thought that chamomile may boost chemicals in the brain that can affect mood, such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. These are natural chemical messengers that are present in the brain, and it is thought that boosting these chemicals can be helpful in depression.

Is it effective?

While there is some evidence to suggest that chamomile might be helpful or people who have anxiety, there is very little scientific evidence on chamomile for the treatment of depression. One study compared the use of a chamomile extract with a placebo (dummy pill) in people who were diagnosed with anxiety, and some patients also had depression. After eight weeks of treatment, people who took chamomile had fewer depression symptoms than those who took the placebo. However, the study only had a small number of participants who had clinical. More studies of better quality are needed to understand the effectiveness of chamomile in depression.

There have been no studies which have looked at the effectiveness of drinking chamomile tea to treat depression.

Are there any disadvantages?

Chamomile supplements can have side effects, although they are not associated with any more side effects than a placebo (dummy pill). Dietary supplements, including chamomile, may have negative interactions with prescribed medications or other supplements. As with any herbal supplements, you should ask your doctor or pharmacist if chamomile might interfere with other medications or supplements you are taking.

Where do you get it?

Chamomile tea is widely available at health food shops and supermarkets. Other chamomile supplements, including tablets, may be available from health food shops.


There is not enough good evidence at this stage to recommend chamomile as a treatment for depression.

Key references

  • Amsterdam JD, Shults J, Soeller I, Mao JJ, Rockwell K, Newberg AB. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may provide antidepressant activity in anxious, depressed humans: an exploratory study. Alternative therapies in health and medicine. 2012; 18(5): 44-9.
  • Yeung KS, Hernandez M, Mao JJ, Haviland I, Gubili J. Herbal medicine for depression and anxiety: A systematic review with assessment of potential psycho‐oncologic relevance. Phytotherapy research. 2018; 32(5): 865-91.

Last updated and reviewed: 1 November 2019