Holly

What other names is Holly known by?

Acebo, Agrifolio, Ailes de Chauve-Souris, Cardón, Christ's Thorn, Épine du Christ, Holm, Holme Chase, Holy Tree, Houx, Houx d'Amérique, Houx Commun, Hulm, Hulver Bush, Hulver Tree, Ilex aquifolium, Ilex opaca, Ilex vomitoria.

What is Holly?

Holly is a plant. There are many types (species) of holly. English holly, Oregon holly, and American holly are used as ornamental Christmas greens. The leaves of other holly species (especially Ilex opaca, Ilex vomitoria, and Ilex aquifolium) are used to make medicine. The berries are very poisonous and should not be swallowed.

Historically, Ilex opaca fruit tea was used as a heart stimulant by American Indians. Ilex vomitoria was used to cause vomiting, and Yaupon tea (mixed leaves of Ilex cassine, Ilex vomitoria, and Ilex dahoon) was used as a ceremonial "cleanser" in South America.

More recently, preparations of holly leaf have been used for coughs, digestive disorders, water retention, and yellowed skin (jaundice). Ilex aquifolium leaves are used for treating fevers that come and go, joint pain (rheumatism), swelling, water retention, and chest congestion. Ilex opaca leaves are used to empty and cleanse the bowels, stimulate the heart, and increase urine flow. Other holly species are used for treating heart disease, dizziness, and high blood pressure.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of holly 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).

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How does Holly work?

There isn't enough information available to know how holly works.

Are there safety concerns?

Holly BERRIES are poisonous and UNSAFE for use. Eating berries may be deadly.

There isn't enough information available to know if holly LEAVES are safe for use. The leaves can cause side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach and intestinal problems. Swallowing holly leaf spines may tear or puncture the inside of the mouth and other parts of the digestive tract.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Do not eat the berries. They can kill you. There isn't enough information to know whether using the leaves as medicine during pregnancy or breast-feeding is safe. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Eating holly berries can kill a child. Be sure to keep holly away from children.

Dehydration: In addition to being poisonous, holly berries can make dehydration worse because they cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Incorrect levels of chloride, calcium, magnesium, sodium, or potassium (electrolyte imbalance) in the body: In addition to being poisonous, holly berries can make an electrolyte imbalance worse because they cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Dosing considerations for Holly.

The appropriate dose of holly 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 holly. 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.
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Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011

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