Drinking tea, specifically chamomile tea, is a tried and true way to wind down and prep the body for a good night’s rest. But you might not know that its sleepy side effects are largely due to apigenin, a bioflavonoid found in chamomile tea that has sedative properties.
Apigenin can be found naturally in various foods and is available as a dietary supplement. In recent years, it has gained popularity for its potential to be an effective yet natural sleep aid.
However, many of its benefits are based on small, isolated studies or anecdotal evidence. This article dives into the science-backed health benefits of apigenin and whether apigenin can help with sleep.
Andrew Huberman on his podcast (one of my favs, and must-listen for those who love science) has discussed many times that 50mg of apigenin is a part of his personal sleep stack.
Apigenin is a bioflavonoid compound found in various fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It’s most abundant in chamomile tea but is also present in other herbs including thyme, oregano, and basil, fruits including grapefruit and oranges, and vegetables including parsley, celery, and onions.
Some researchers believe apigenin contains antioxidant, antidepressant, anti-anxiety, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties that provide a wide range of benefits when consumed.
One of the main supposed benefits of apigenin is improved sleep, and it makes sense why.
Chamomile tea has been used to promote sleepiness for ages, so it is no surprise that taking one of its main ingredients, apigenin, as a dietary supplement might also benefit sleep.
Some research suggests that apigenin can have a sedative effect when taken in higher doses. This is because apigenin binds to receptors in the brain, like the GABA receptor, when consumed which promotes feelings of sedation and sleepiness.
Unfortunately, much of the research exploring the relationship between apigenin and sleep quality uses chamomile extract instead of an apigenin supplement in their trials. This makes it hard to determine the effect apigenin alone has on sleepiness, sleep quality, and sleep duration.
That being said, a handful of research concludes that chamomile extract can aid sleep. And as the main active ingredient of chamomile, apigenin is likely to contribute to its sedative effects.
For example, one study showed that postpartum women who consumed chamomile tea daily for 14 days experienced more improvements in sleep than the placebo group.
A different study had participants take 270 mg of chamomile extract twice per day for 28 days. After the trial, participants who took chamomile extract reported falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer than the placebo group.
So does apigenin help sleep? It may, but we need more research to confirm this. In the meantime, it is a safe supplement with no serious side effects, so it doesn’t hurt to try it. You can also incorporate foods containing apigenin into your diet to safely get its benefits.
So we’ve covered that apigenin can be used as a sleep aid, but you might still be wondering how the chamomile derivative improves sleep.
According to neuroscientist and professor Dr. Andrew Huberman, apigenin acts as a chloride channel agonist, which means it helps shut down the forebrain to prepare the body for sleep. It also has anti-anxiety properties that help quiet the brain and calm rumination, which is an essential step for falling asleep.
In other words, apigenin works to “turn off” your brain so you can relax enough to get some shut-eye.
Dr. Huberman recommends taking 50 mg of apigenin alongside 300-400 mg of magnesium threonate and 200-400 mg of theanine for optimal sleep.
In addition to aiding sleep, apigenin functions as an antioxidant and contains anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and anti-cancer properties.
Because of this, this flavonoid has a long list of potential health benefits, from improved sleep quality and mood to supporting brain health and protecting against cancer. Let’s take a look at the science-backed benefits of apigenin.
Multiple studies agree that apigenin is a rich anti-cancer agent. This means that when consumed, the flavonoid can protect against the development of cancer cells and even encourage cancer cell death.
For example, one review concludes that flavonoids such as apigenin play a role in cancer prevention by helping regulate the immune and nervous systems, preventing oxidation, and inducing apoptosis.
Another review of multiple studies states that eating a diet rich in bioflavonoids including apigenin can reduce the risk of certain cancers, particularly breast cancer, as well as some neurological disorders.
Clinical research shows that apigenin may protect brain health and fight against Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive disease that causes memory loss and impaired brain function. Some studies found that taking an apigenin supplement may delay or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
For example, one animal study showed that administering 40 mg of apigenin improved memory in mice. It also lowered amyloid beta peptide levels, which are proteins that play a role in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Other animal research showed that chamomile extract containing apigenin improved memory deficits in its animal subjects.
While this research is promising, we need more human research to confirm these findings.
Some research suggests that apigenin has antidepressant properties and may be effective at treating anxiety.
For example, one study had participants with generalized anxiety disorder take 500 mg of chamomile extract three times per day for three months. After the trial period ended, participants who were given chamomile extract showed more improvement in their anxiety levels than the placebo group.
Another study showed that postpartum women who consumed chamomile tea every day for two weeks experienced fewer symptoms of depression than the placebo group.
While these studies are promising, we need more research to fully understand the relationship between apigenin and mood.
Can’t decide between supplementation or chamomile tea for your apigenin needs? Both options have their pros and cons.
Drinking chamomile tea is a natural way to meet your daily apigenin needs. It is also very safe, as many studies exploring the relationship between apigenin and sleep use chamomile tea in their research.
That being said, controlling the amount of apigenin you get in each serving of chamomile tea can be difficult. In this case, supplementation can give you better control of dosing and help ensure you get enough apigenin in your diet.
Combining apigenin with other supplements, like the ones below, can enhance its effects and help you sleep more soundly. You can pair these supplements with 50 mg of apigenin or take them on their own.
Magnesium is a mineral that helps cells communicate in the nervous system, where sleep is largely regulated. Research like this 2021 study suggests that magnesium supplementation may help adults fall asleep faster and decrease their nighttime awakenings.
Glycine is an amino acid and neurotransmitter that has been linked to improved sleep. Studies show that glycine supplementation can reduce core body temperature, which in turn promotes sleepiness. Other studies suggest that glycine consumption can improve sleep quality and decrease daytime tiredness.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid and neurotransmitter that slows down brain activity. Due to this, GABA has been shown to effectively promote sleepiness and support the onset of sleep.
Lion’s Mane probably won’t support sleep much, but we got enough questions about it that we wrote this article on lion’s mane for sleep.
Most apigenin supplements on the market come in doses of 50 mg and are considered safe to consume. However, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional to determine what dosage of apigenin is right for you.
We review an array of products in our article on the best apigenin supplements.
Most apigenin supplements recommend taking one 50 mg capsule of apigenin 30 to 60 minutes before sleep. However, it’s best to read the supplement label beforehand and take apigenin as directed.
If you are getting apigenin through your diet or taking an apigenin supplement as directed, it should be safe for everyday use. However, you should consult a healthcare professional before adding any supplement to your diet. You should also not mix apigenin with other sedatives.
In general, apigenin is considered safe and has no serious side effects. Mild side effects may include digestive upset, sedation, and muscle relaxation. Apigenin may also cause an allergic reaction in some people.
Apigenin is a bioflavonoid and an active ingredient in a variety of vegetables, fruits, and herbs. It is most abundantly found in chamomile tea and is known for its sedative effects when taken in high doses. However, there is not enough clinical research to confirm whether apigenin is effective at improving sleep quality or aiding the onset of sleep.
You can meet your apigenin needs by eating an apigenin-rich diet or by using an apigenin supplement. Apigenin supplements are safe with very few adverse side effects; so if you’re looking for a natural sleep aid, they might be worth the try.