Chamomile inhibits COX-2 and other pesky thingies…

It’s really true that you learn something new every day. Until now, I thought that a cup of chamomile tea was useful only to help you relax. But it turns out that it might do much more than that.

A few days ago I received an alert leading me to a 2009 (!) study on chamomile and COX-2, which is one of the unbelievably bad guys in myeloma (just do a search of my blog for COX-2, which, among other things, is a predictor of a poor outcome in myeloma…). The full text is available for free online:…Yes, it’s a bit technical, but if you read the important bits here and there, you will find out that chamomile inhibits a pesky inflammatory enzyme known as COX-2.

(Please note: there are quite a few of these natural COX-2 inhibitors. Again, do a search of my blog. For example, thyme oil, sesamin, ashwagandha, boswellic acid and apigenin. Oh, almost goes without saying: curcumin! 🙂 )

Chamomile, the authors tell us, has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It is consumed in the form of tea at a frequency of more than a million cups per day. Chamomile has been approved by the German Commission E for oral consumption in the management of various inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, and for topical application in the treatment of various skin disorders and inflammatory disorders of certain mucosal surfaces, such as the oral cavity and ano-genital areas. Wow, I had no idea. And…and…and…more than a million cups A DAY?  😯

It has antioxidant, hypocholesteroemic, anti-parasitic, anti-aging, and anticancer properties. Again, I had no idea.

And there’s another thing. Until I read this study, my brain had not registered the fact that chamomile’s most active ingredient is APIGENIN…Remember my posts on apigenin (parsley, celery…) and myeloma? One by one, the lights go on…

Chamomile also (see page 6) inhibits iNOS, which means “inducible nitric oxide synthase.” iNOS is a pathway linked to inflammation, which is , quelle surprise (not), also involved in myeloma, and not in a good way, believe me.

Another good bit of news is that chamomile also inhibits something called PGE2, which is secreted by some types of myeloma cells (=the mutant RAS ones). PGE2 contributes to the cells’ resistance to melphalan, among other things. See: Ah. 

And hey, check what the “Blood” study authors say at the end of the “Discussion” part: A recent study confirming the involvement of cox-2 and PGE2 in osteoclastogenesis suggests that up-regulated activity in mutant RAS myeloma could also contribute to progressive lytic bone disease. cox-2 inhibitors may, thus, be worthwhile agents for future therapy.

So the hyperactive COX-2 and PGE2 also seem to help myeloma cells destroy our bones. Not good! 

Let’s compare that to the Conclusions of our “chamomile” study: The mechanism of action of chamomile on the inhibition of PGE2 production was due to the suppression of the COX-2 gene expression and direct inhibition of COX-2 enzyme activity. This may be important in the prevention of inflammation and may contribute to the antiinflammatory, anti-neoplastic and immunoregulatory effects of chamomile. Yay! 

I don’t know if my type of myeloma is mutant RAS or not…I read that 30-40% of myeloma patients have this sort of mutation, which is linked to not-so-lovely things such as disease progression and resistance to treatments. Well, one thing’s for sure: I’m going to begin drinking chamomile. Organic only, of course! 

Can’t hurt…

Could help…

P.S. Note: from what I’ve read, the type of chamomile with the strongest medicinal activity is the German Matricaria Recutita


  1. Wow! Chamomile grows like a weed in my garden… gonna have to make better use of it. We’ve let it grow up to now because it feeds small wasps, which parasitize the nasty bugs on my veg.

  2. Excellent, thank you for this Margaret! I am dusting off the chamomile tea box from the cupboard and will start having it nightly. I wonder if it works as well if you mix it with other teas, such as the liver cleansing dandelion, or burdock root? Or even peppermint?

  3. Hi Joy, you can mix your own infusions but the popular Sleepytime by Celestial Seasoning makes a pretty good product which contains chamomile, spearmint. etc. My kids love it at night with a dab of honey.

  4. Yeah that article was just a BIT challenging! I too will be ferreting the box of teabags from the bag of the cupboard no, wait I think that’s fennel – or well I’ll have to add them to B’s shopping list and blame you. 😀

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