Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition that leads to numbness and weakness in the hands. It is generally treated with splinting, rest, and anti-inflammatory drugs, and possibly surgery. If not handled properly, it can cause permanent muscle and nerve damage.
Various compounds in chamomile have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that may aid in the treatment of neuropathic pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome.1 However, more studies are needed to better understand its applications.
As such, researchers in this trial evaluated the benefits of chamomile for carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
Participants of this randomized clinical trial were 86 adults diagnosed with mild to moderate symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. The study lasted for four weeks.
All participants received splints to immobilize the wrist at nighttime. In addition, half of the participants were given topical chamomile oil (1%), while the other half received placebo oil. Topical applications consisted of using five drops of the oil on the palmar wrist area twice a day.
Numerous assessments - such as symptom severity, functional status scores, and sensory nerve conduction velocity - were taken before and after the study to evaluate the effects of treatment.
After four weeks, participants in the chamomile oil group saw significant improvements in symptom severity (a score decrease from 2.37 to 1.65 in the chamomile group versus 2.40 to 2.03 in the placebo group).
Functionality and hand strength scores had also improved in the chamomile group (2.5 to 1.82 and 8.44 to 9.76).
In addition, nerve latency of the median nerve was also decreased in adults using chamomile oil.
What Does this Mean?
As seen in the results of this study, applying chamomile oil topically can relieve carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
Having such non-invasive and side effect-free treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome at their disposal means that its sufferers could improve their symptom severity and functionality without reaching for pharmacological or surgical interventions.
- Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Efficacy of topical chamomile oil for mild and moderate carpal tunnel syndrome: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, 2017
- Pharmacognosy Reviews. (2011). Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.): An overview. Retrieved January 11, 2021 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22096322/