India is a country where holy basil is a revered plant and is called tulsi There are sects of people who worship this plant and consider it to be an auspicious part of their household. One might think that they are overdoing things but it is not the case. Holy basil does deserve the reverence that it gets. Botanically known as ocimum sanctum its medicinal value is appreciated by all.
11 Holy Basil Side Effects
Considered the queen of herbs this plant is used for the treatment of asthma, common cold, diabetes, cholesterol. It has anti-microbial properties and is also used for the treatment of arthritis. The herb finds a place of significance in any household. However this herb is not without its draw backs.
1. Damage To The Liver
According to the World Health Organization, people undergoing medications like acetaminophen, which lowers the levels of glutathione in the body, run a greater risk of liver damage if they are consuming holy basil regularly.(1)
Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and so is basil. When both of them work together it tends to affect the delicate functioning of the liver. It is preferable that one consults a doctor before starting such consumption.
2. Not Suitable For Pregnant Women
Holy basil is not at all suitable for pregnant women. It adversely affects the health of the mother and also the embryo. It can even lead to a miscarriage.
This is because the herb causes uterus contraction which is very dangerous as it may lead to severe complications during the process of childbirth.
3. Thinning Of Blood
This particular herb causes thinning of blood. While it is quite an acceptable remedy for some people who prefer the natural herbal method of thinning the blood, but, the same cannot be said for everyone.
For people who are already taking medicines for blood thinning must consume this herb with caution and not before consulting your physician as an overdose may badly affect your health.(3)
4. Reduction In Blood Sugar Levels
People generally turn to this herb for reducing their blood sugar levels, which is a really beneficial property of this herb. It is however important that one must do it with caution.
It is most advisable for people already taking medications for diabetes or for regulating their blood sugar levels. The herb has the same property as the prescription drug.
Hence it will tend to amplify the effects of the prescription drug, which may lead to radical decline in your blood sugar levels.
It is hence advisable that one consults the doctor before taking up this herb as a supplementary medicine. Sudden decreases in the blood sugar levels will lead to dizziness even loss of consciousness.(4)
5. Not To Be Consumed After Surgery
People who have just had a surgery must refrain from consuming this holy basil. It has properties for thinning the blood and so it does not allow the blood to clot, making the recovery a much longer and painstaking process.(5)
6. Eugenol Overdose Concern
The primary constituent of holy basil is eugenol. Eugenol is a hepatotoxic, meaning that it can cause damage to the liver. Excess consumption is very harmful for health. Symptoms like shallow breathing, blood during cough, blood in urine, nausea, throat and mouth burns are noticed.
In such cases the doctor must be consulted immediately. The consumption of holy basil must be supervised by a dietitian.(6)
7. Drug Interactions
If you are taking any other herbal drugs, you must consult your doctor before consuming holy basil. Given the way this herb is processed in the liver, it can interfere with the way your other drugs are being absorbed in the body.
Holy basil can intensify the effect of some drugs resulting in adverse effects in the body.
Now that we have enumerated a large number of side effects of holy basil, and after reading them you must be thinking whether you should continue relying on this herb or not.
Despite the side effects we must not forget that it is a miracle herb that is used as a treatment for a large number of diseases. Just like any other herb or drug this too has its negative side.
To overcome any symptom which you think might have been caused by this drug, you only have to consult your doctor. Most importantly, take the advice of the doctor before consuming the drug and you will have nothing to worry about.(7)
8. Interacts With Acetaminophen Products
If you are taking medications for acetaminophen then you should consume this herb with caution as it will adversely affect your medication. It is preferable that you consult your doctor.
9. Effect On Fertility
A study was published in the year 2000, in the International Journal of Ayurveda Research, claiming that holy basil has the potential ability to decrease the fertility of men.(8)
The study was conducted on rabbits and a positive result was found showing a decrease in the sperm count. It is suspected that the same effect is to be noticed even in humans.
It is however a temporary effect whereby the sperm count in a male is reduced.
Men may wish to avoid too much consumption of this herb and must surely consult your physician before consuming it as no one would want a reduced fertility even if it’s just a temporary condition.
[ Read: Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Water ]
10. Chances Of Cancer
A certain element present in holy basil is estragole. This is not at all harmful in its herbal form. However when we extract oil from basil, it tends to contain large amounts of this element.
This component is harmful as it increases the chances of cancer in the human body.
Cancer as we know is a very harmful disease and in most cases not completely curable, hence maintaining caution while consuming this herb would be a wise decision.
[ Read: Side Effects of Milk Thistle ]
This is a long term effect of holy basil and will not affect casual drinkers, who intake it once in a while. This is however one of the major problems of holy basil.
This plant can easily grow in areas with high levels of chromium as it is tolerant of this metal unlike other plants.
As a result of this the chromium tends to accumulate in its leaves to highly toxic levels. The metal adversely affects the liver and kidney.
So it is preferable to buy organic holy basil if you are consuming this herb daily.
- Warning symptoms, uterine contractions, and cervical examination findings in women at risk of preterm delivery
- Warnings for Holy Basil
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar): Symptoms and causes
- Holy Basil
- Essential oil poisoning: N-acetylcysteine for eugenol-induced hepatic failure and analysis of a national database
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