Holy Basil Side Effects

Holy basil, also known as tulsi, has been used for over 5000 years in Eastern medicine.  It is currently used in more than 300 medicines. Holy basil is used to treat conditions such as allergies and asthma, diabetes, it acts as a cooperative and mitigating agent for chemotherapy and radiation treatments, as a treatment for stress, depression, ADHD and ADD, as well as many other treatments.  During the long period of time which is it has been in use, very few side effects have been reported.  However, it was noted that holy basil reduced the side effects of other medicinal treatments or conditions, such as with radiation poisoning.  Little research has been done on the herb in these modern days and many of the treatments where they show anecdotal evidence, they have been verified through stringent scientific studies.  Today a few side effects have been reported, and these side effects were reported with regards to holy basil’s interaction with other substances, preexisting conditions/illnesses, or as a result of the conditions in which the herb was grown.  Here are some of the reported Holy Basil side effects:

  1. It is possible to overdose on the tulsi herb.  If too much is taken the most severe affect is coma.  However, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, nausea, difficulty breathing, and blood in urine or saliva are more common side effects of overdose.  Medical treatment should be sought through calling poison control or seeking medical treatment immediately at your local emergency room if you suspect you have overdosed on Holy Basil.
  2. If holy basil is taken with other blood thinners or by a person with a blood clotting condition such as hemophilia, the user may have difficulty clotting.  Medicines that interact with holy basil to produce this difficulty are acetaminophen and anti-coagulants.  If someone taking holy basil experiences difficulty with cuts and clotting, seeking proper medical treatment is imperative.
  3. Because tulsi has a very positive affect on lowering blood sugar levels, taking the herb if you are diabetic in conjunction with taking other diabetic medicine, or taking if one is hypoglycemic can produce low blood sugar leading to dizziness or fainting.  Irritability and shaking can also occur in extreme circumstances.  Ingesting sugar will usually mitigate the response of this side effect.
  4. If used for long periods of time, decreased fertility has been experienced in laboratory animals.  For this reason, and because of inadequate testing on holy basil, in general, on long term effects, it should not be taken by women who are trying to become pregnant, are pregnant, or are nursing.
  5. Holy basil can grow in adverse conditions, such as in soil with very high chromium content, and the herb can absorb the toxins.  These toxins can then be expelled when ingested.  These toxins can have a very detrimental effect on any person using the herb.  For that reason, one should only purchase holy basil from reputable and organic sources.  In addition, if one chooses to grow their own holy basil, they must be very conscious of the soil content and water content that is used for the plant.  In India, Hindis use only organic soil and purified water for the plant.

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