November 8, 2023
Entrapment of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel causes the most common type of entrapment neuropathy known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Compression of the median nerve results in tingling and weakness in the hand and arm. The disease has posed a considerable burden worldwide and still remains a problem in healthcare systems. Among available conservative and surgical treatment options, non-surgical treatments such as splinting and steroid therapy are usually used for management of mild and moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. However, their long term effectiveness is under question besides possible complications.
In recent years, complementary and alternative medicine has become more popular all around the world. A more recent academically introduced brand of complementary and alternative medicine, Traditional Persian Medicine, has some suggestions including herbal remedies for neuropathic pains such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
German chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla L. (Asteraceae) has a wide range of applications. Previous studies show that the reported compounds in the chamomile flowers have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and analgesic properties. Not only the modern-day documents, but also Traditional Persian Medicine has considered chamomile as an analgesic agent. Its topical application as a painkiller in the joint pain and a neural tissue strengthening agent is mentioned by Avicenna (980–1037 AD) in “Canon of Medicine” and Aghili Alavi Shirazi (1670–1747 AD) in “Storehouse of Medicaments”.
A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluated the benefits of topical German chamomile CT bisabolene oxide essential oil in people with mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. Eighty-six subjects were randomly divided into the intervention group that applied essential oil or a placebo group that used 10% sesame oil in paraffin with 0.1% chamomile oil to simulate the aroma. Five drops of German chamomile oil (diluted in sesame oil) or placebo were applied to the palmar area of the wrist every morning and evening for four weeks and both groups used a standard wrist splint at night. At the end of the four weeks the German chamomile group experienced significant improvements in symptom severity and functionality when compared to placebo. In addition, the German chamomile oil improved median nerve activity and function.