Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to holy basil (Ocimum sanctum).
Side Effects and Warnings
Holy basil seems to be well tolerated in most people, and it has generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status in the United States.
Holy basil may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Although not well studied in humans, holy basil may have antispermatogenic (sperm blocking) and anti-fertility effects.
Holy basil may prolong bleeding time. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Holy basil is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women. Based on traditional use, holy basil may stimulate uterine contractions.
Adults (over 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose of holy basil. Traditionally, 300-2,000 milligrams as a single dose of dried leaves has been used daily for preventive therapy, and 600-1,800 milligrams in divided doses has been used daily for curative therapy. As a tea, 2 grams holy basil has been infused in one cup of water. Also, 10-20 milliliters of fresh leaf juice or 1 ounce of dried herb in 16 ounces of water, three times daily in 5 ounce doses has been used. For diabetes, 2.5 grams of dried leaf powder by mouth every morning, or 1 teaspoon dried herb brewed in one cup of water three times a day have been used.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for holy basil in children.
Interactions with Drugs
Ursolic acid isolated from holy basil may somewhat protect against adriamycin-induced lipid peroxidation of liver and heart microsomes.
Holy basil may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Holy basil may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood, and may cause increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package insert, and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
Holy basil may reduce the amnesic (memory loss) effect of diazepam or scopolamine. Holy basil may increase the sedative effects of pentobarbital. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery.
Holy basil may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Caution is advised in patients taking statins or other cholesterol lowering agents, as holy basil may reduce serum lipid levels.
Interactions with Herbs & Dietary Supplements
Holy basil may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Holy basil may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too high in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system.
Caution is advised in patients taking cholesterol-lowering agents, such as red yeast rice, as holy basil may reduce serum lipid levels.
Holy basil may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.