Alternate Title

  • Basil

Related Terms

  • Alpha-cadinol, alpha-terpineol, alphitolic acid, anise, anthocyanins, apigenin, basil, basil oil, basilimoside, basilol, benzyl ether, bergamotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-cubene, beta-guaiene, betulinic acid, bush, cadinene, caffeic acid, calcium, cassia, cinnamic acid methyl ester, citral, common basil, cyclohexene, dark opal, dried basil, epimaslinic acid, estragol, estragole, eugenol, euscaphic acid, genovese, geraniol, green basil, guaia-1(10),11-diene, hydroxy phenyl ferulate, Lamiaceae (family), lemon basil, linalol, linalool, linoleic acid, linolen, lutein, magnesium, methoxycinnamate, methyl chavicol, methyl eugenol, methylchavicol, methylchavikol, methylcinnamate, methyleugenol, monoterpenes, nepetoidin, Nepetoideae, ocimol, Ocimum, Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum basilicum ‘cinnamon,’ Ocimum basilicum ‘Genovese Gigante,’ Ocimum basilicum L. var. Genovese, Ocimum basilicum Linn. var. pilosum (Willd.) Benth., Ocimum basilicum var. citratum, Ocimum basilicum var. minimum, Ocimum basilicum var. purpurascens Benth., Ocimum campechianum Mill., Ocimum gratissimum L., Ocimum micranthum Willd., oleanolic acid, oleic acid, phenylpropane derivatives, purple basil, quinone radicals, rosmarinic acid, sesquiterpenes, sterols, sugar-bound monoterpenes, sweet dani cultivar, sweet Thai, Thai basil, triterpene acids, triterpenes, tulsi, ursolic acid, vaccenic acid, vinylcyclohexane, Wild Amazonian basil, xyloglucans, zeaxanthin.

Background

  • Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a commonly used spice. The constituent estragole is naturally found in sweet basil and is used in fragrances and flavorings. Although laboratory study has found that estragole may be associated with cancer, human study is lacking.
  • Laboratory studies have investigated sweet basil for its antiviral, anticancer, and antibacterial effects. However, currently, there is not enough evidence in humans to support the use of sweet basil for any indication.

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    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.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. 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 healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    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 (over 18 years old)

    • There is no proven effective dose for sweet basil in adults.
  • Children (under 18 years old)

    • There is no proven effective dose for sweet basil in children.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    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 in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to sweet basil, its constituents, or members of the Lamiaceae or Labiatae families, such as hyssop, marjoram, mint, sage, lavender, oregano, or thyme.
  • Side Effects and Warnings

    • Fresh basil may carry pathogens and should always be washed before use.
    • Estragole, a constituent of sweet basil, may cause liver damage.
    • Cow’s urine concoction (CUC), prepared from leaves of tobacco, garlic, basil, lemon juice, rock salt, and bulbs of onion, is thought to be toxic, causing severe depression of the central nervous system and the cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) system.
    • Although human data are limited, sweet basil may decrease blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
    • Sweet basil may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
    • Sweet basil may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
    • Use cautiously in patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as amounts higher than those commonly found in food have not been fully investigated.
    • Use amounts above dietary levels cautiously in males, as sweet basil may kill sperm.
    • Avoid in patients with an allergy or sensitivity to sweet basil, its constituents, or members of the Lamiaceae/Labiatae family.
    • Avoid consumption of basil grown in soils contaminated with heavy metals, due to possible heavy metal contamination.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    • Sweet basil is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence in amounts higher than those commonly found in food. Based on laboratory study, sweet basil may be a potent spermicide (kills sperm) in humans.

Interactions

    Disclaimer

    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

    • Sweet basil may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
    • Sweet 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, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
    • Sweet basil may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
    • Sweet 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.
    • Sweet basil may also interact with alcohol, drugs that affect the immune system, agents absorbed through the skin, aspirin, UDP-glucuronosyltransferase substrates, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antifungals, anti-inflammatory agents, antimicrobials (including antiparasitics), antiulcer agents, antivirals, cholinesterase inhibitors, agents that relax or widen blood vessels, cholesterol-lowering agents, gastrointestinal agents, indomethacin, and laxatives.
  • Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

    • Sweet basil may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
    • Sweet 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.
    • Sweet 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.
    • Sweet 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.
    • Sweet basil may also interact with antiulcer herbs and supplements, antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals (such as vanillin), anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antimicrobials (including antiparasitics), antioxidants, antivirals, herbs and supplements that relax or widen blood vessels, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, cholinesterase inhibitors, laxatives (such as castor oil), herbs and supplements that affect the immune system, herbs and supplements absorbed through the skin, gastrointestinal herbs and supplements, and UDP-glucuronosyltransferase substrates.

Attribution

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

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    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 . Selected references are listed below.

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