Report on Basil Side Effects and Usage


Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using Basil (Ocimum Basilicum). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 – Insulin: Using Basil with insulin may increase hypoglycemic effects. Chemicals in basil may lower blood sugar levels.

Warning 2 – Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs: Basil interacts with drugs that slow blood clotting and may increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Drugs that slow blood clotting include aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), dalteparin (Fragmin), clopidogrel (Plavix), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), and others.

Warning 3 – Surgery: Because basil might slow blood clotting there is a concern that it could increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Since there isn’t enough data to know the extent of this concern you may want to stop using holy basil at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Warning 4 – Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough data to know how basil will effect pregnancy and breast-feeding. To error on the side of safety avoid use.

Warning 5 – Pentobarbital: There is some concern that taking basil seed oil internally while using pentobarbital might cause too much drowsiness. However there isn’t enough data to know if this is a big concern.

Used as a natural health remedy: Basil is used internally for the following benefits and conditions:

  • Appetite stimulant
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Cold remedy
  • Cough
  • Diabetes
  • Diarrhea
  • Digestive aid
  • Earache
  • Expectorant
  • H1N1 (swine) flu
  • Headache
  • heart disease
  • In tea to reduce fever
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Kills intestinal parasites
  • Leucoderma
  • Maintain dental health
  • Malaria
  • Mouth infections
  • Mercury poisoning
  • Nerve tonic
  • Promote longevity
  • Promote milk production in nursing women
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Releave nausea
  • Releave sore throat
  • Sharpen memory
  • Stomach upset
  • Strengthen kidney
  • Stress relief
  • Tuberculosis
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Vomiting

Used as a natural health remedy: Basil is used externally for the following benefits and conditions:

  • Ringworm (applied to the skin)
  • Insect bites (preventive and curative)
  • Sore eyes and night-blindness
  • mosquito repellent
  • counteract snake and scorpion bites (not recommended)

Preliminary research suggests that basil may slow progression and improve survival rate in animals with certain types of cancer. However, there is not yet enough data to support the use of basil for any internal or external use.

Side Effects of Basil

There are no known side effects of this herb. Basil is probably safe for most people but the long-term effects are still unknown.

One of the ingredients in basil volatile oil is estragole, a substance that may be carcinogenic and has been thought to stimulate uterine contractions. However, this is unlikely to be a concern when basil is used as a seasoning in food.

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

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For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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