Basil

What other names is Basil known by?

Albahaca, Basilic, Basilic Commun, Basilic Grand, Basilic Grand Vert, Basilic Romain, Basilic aux Sauces, Basilici Herba, Basilici Herba, Common Basil, Garden Basil, Krishna Tulsi, Munjariki, Ocimum basilicum, St. Josephwort, Surasa, Sweet Basil, Vanatulasi, Varvara, Visva Tulsi.

What is Basil?

Basil is an herb. The parts of the plant that grow above the ground are used to make medicine.

Basil is used for stomach spasms, loss of appetite, intestinal gas, kidney conditions, fluid retention, head colds, warts, and worm infections. It is also used to treat snake and insect bites.

Women sometimes use basil before and after childbirth to promote blood circulation, and also to start the flow of breast milk.

Some people use it as a gargle.

In foods, basil is used for flavor.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Acne. Early research suggests that applying a gel containing basil and sweet orange essential oils to the skin for 8 weeks might help clear breakouts in people with acne.
  • Mental alertness. Early research suggests that aromatherapy with basil, peppermint, and sandy everlasting essential oils for one week might improve attention, mental alertness, and mental focus in some people who report feelings of mental exhaustion.
  • Head colds.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Intestinal gas.
  • Stomach spasms.
  • Kidney disorders.
  • Blood circulation.
  • Worms.
  • Warts.
  • Snake and insect bites.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of basil for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Quick GuideVitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

Vitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

How does Basil work?

Basil contains many chemicals. These chemicals might help get rid of intestinal worms. Basil is a good source of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Are there safety concerns?

Basil is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts.

Basil is POSSIBLY SAFE for adults when taken by mouth as a medicine, short-term. In some people basil can cause low blood sugar.

The above-ground parts of basil and basil oil are POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth as a medicine, long-term. These contain estragole, a chemical that might increase the risk of getting liver cancer.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Basil is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women in food amounts. But larger medicinal amounts are POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Basil contains a chemical, estragole, which has caused liver cancer in laboratory mice.

Children: Basil is LIKELY SAFE for children in food amounts. But larger medicinal amounts are POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Basil contains a chemical, estragole, which has caused liver cancer in laboratory mice.

Bleeding disorders: Basil oils and extracts might slow blood clotting and increase bleeding. In theory, basil oils and extracts might make bleeding disorders worse.

Low blood pressure: Basil extracts might lower blood pressure. In theory, taking basil extracts might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.

Surgery: Basil oils and extracts might slow blood clotting. In theory, basil oils or extracts might increase the risk for bleeding during surgical procedures. Stop using basil at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Basil extract might decrease blood pressure in some people. Taking basil extract along with medications used for lowering high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low. Do not take too much basil if you are taking medications for high blood pressure.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.



Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Basil oils and extracts might slow blood clotting. Taking basil oils or extracts along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Dosing considerations for Basil.

The appropriate dose of basil depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for basil. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors