Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Alba, alliinase, Allium tuberosum, allyl methyl disulfide, anthocyanins, biogenic amines, blue spear, carotenoids, Chinese chive, curly mauve, diallyl sulfides, ferulic acid, he (Vietnamese), kaempferol glycosides, Liliaceae (family), linoleic acid, mannose-binding lectin, marsha, methiin, methyl allyl disulfide, onion, palmitic acid, p-coumaric acid, serine acetyltransferase sulfoquinovosyl diacylglycerol, siu heung (Chinese), snowcap, sulfur, sulfur-containing compounds, sulphur, tsung (Chinese).

Background

  • Chives are native to Europe, Asia, and North America. They are commonly used as cooking herbs to give a mild onion flavor to many foods, including salads, soups, vegetables, and sauces. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) belong to the Liliaceae family, although they are sometimes grouped together with the onion family (Alliaceae).

  • Allium herbs such as Chinese chives, garlic, and onion contain the element sulfur, resulting in the strong smell of these herbs.

  • Chives and members of the onion family have been used for many centuries for their flavoring value in food and for their medicinal properties, including relief from sunburn and sore throat.

  • Chives may have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and some anticancer effects. Studies have found a possible link between the consumption of Allium vegetables, including chives, and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

  • At this time, there is not enough evidence supporting the use of chives for any medical condition.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Prostate cancer

A Chinese study linked consumption of Allium vegetables, including chives, to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Analgesic (pain relief), antiarrhythmic (abnormal heartbeat), antibacterial, antifungal, antihypertensive (high blood pressure), antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antipyretic (fever reducer), antiseptic (infection treatment), antithrombotic (blood-clotting disorders), antiviral, aphrodisiac (sex drive), cancer, circulatory disorders (heart disorders), colorectal cancer, decongestant (stuffy nose), digestive disturbances, dysplasia (abnormal development), flavoring, HIV/AIDS, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), libido, longevity, respiratory disorders (lung disorders), sore throat, stamina enhancer, stomach cancer, sunburn.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for chive in adults.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for chive in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to chives, its parts, or other plants in the Liliaceae family, including garlic, onion, scallions, and leeks.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Chives are likely safe when consumed in amounts normally found in foods. Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to chives or other plants in the Liliaceae family.

  • Chives may cause skin irritation, skin lesions, and stomach irritation.

  • Chives may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

  • Chives may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs, herbs, and supplements that lower blood pressure.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of chives during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Chives 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, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

  • Chives may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that lower blood pressure.

  • Chives 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. People using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.

  • Chives may also interact with antibiotics, anticancer agents, antifungal agents, antiviral agents, cholesterol-lowering agents, and sex drive-enhancing agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Chives 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.

  • Chives 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 cytochrome P450 system.

  • Chives may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.

  • Chives may also interact with antibacterial herbs and supplements, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungal herbs and supplements, antioxidants, antiviral herbs and supplements, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, sex drive-enhancing herbs and supplements, and vitamin A.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Bianchini, F. and Vainio, H. Allium vegetables and organosulfur compounds: do they help prevent cancer? Environ Health Perspect. 2001;109(9):893-902. View Abstract
  2. Fenwick, G. R. and Hanley, A. B. The genus Allium. Part 2. Crit Rev.Food Sci Nutr. 1985;22(4):273-377. View Abstract
  3. Fenwick, G. R. and Hanley, A. B. The genus Allium–Part 3. Crit Rev.Food Sci Nutr. 1985;23(1):1-73. View Abstract
  4. Guohua, H., Yanhua, L., Rengang, M., Dongzhi, W., Zhengzhi, M., and Hua, Z. Aphrodisiac properties of Allium tuberosum seeds extract. J Ethnopharmacol 4-21-2009;122(3):579-582. View Abstract
  5. Held, D. W., Gonsiska, P., and Potter, D. A. Evaluating companion planting and non-host masking odors for protecting roses from the Japanese beetle (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae). J Econ.Entomol. 2003;96(1):81-87. View Abstract
  6. Hsing, A. W., Chokkalingam, A. P., Gao, Y. T., Madigan, M. P., Deng, J., Gridley, G., and Fraumeni, J. F., Jr. Allium vegetables and risk of prostate cancer: a population-based study. J Natl.Cancer Inst. 11-6-2002;94(21):1648-1651. View Abstract
  7. Hsu, W. Y., Simonne, A., and Jitareerat, P. Fates of seeded Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella on selected fresh culinary herbs during refrigerated storage. J Food Prot. 2006;69(8):1997-2001. View Abstract
  8. Jordão CP, Cecon PR Pereira JL. Evaluation of metal concentrations in edible vegetables grown in compost amended soil. International Journal of Environmental Studies 2003;60(6):547-562.
  9. Lam, Y. W. and Ng, T. B. A monomeric mannose-binding lectin from inner shoots of the edible chive (Allium tuberosum). J Protein Chem 2001;20(5):361-366. View Abstract
  10. Qiao, Y., Galvosas, P., and Callaghan, P. T. Diffusion correlation NMR spectroscopic study of anisotropic diffusion of water in plant tissues. Biophys.J 2005;89(4):2899-2905. View Abstract
  11. Sneeden, E. Y., Harris, H. H., Pickering, I. J., Prince, R. C., Johnson, S., Li, X., Block, E., and George, G. N. The sulfur chemistry of shiitake mushroom. J Am.Chem Soc. 1-21-2004;126(2):458-459. View Abstract
  12. Stajner, D., Canadanovic-Brunet, J., and Pavlovic, A. Allium schoenoprasum L., as a natural antioxidant. Phytother.Res 2004;18(7):522-524. View Abstract
  13. Stajner, D., Igic, R., Popovic, B. M., and Malencic, Dj. Comparative study of antioxidant properties of wild growing and cultivated Allium species. Phytother.Res 2008;22(1):113-117. View Abstract
  14. Wang, H. X. and Ng, T. B. Ascalin, a new anti-fungal peptide with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase-inhibiting activity from shallot bulbs. Peptides 2002;23(6):1025-1029. View Abstract
  15. Yamato, O., Kasai, E., Katsura, T., Takahashi, S., Shiota, T., Tajima, M., Yamasaki, M., and Maede, Y. Heinz body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog. J Am.Anim Hosp.Assoc. 2005;41(1):68-73. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.