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.


Overview Information

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

Historically, American holly fruit tea was used as a heart stimulant by American Indians. Yaupon, another type of holly, was used to cause vomiting, and Yaupon tea was used as a ceremonial "cleanser" in South America.

Holly is also used for cough, fever, digestive disorders, heart disease, and other conditions. But there is no good scientific research to support any use.

How does it work?

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


Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Constipation.
  • Coughs.
  • Digestive disorders.
  • Dizziness (vertigo).
  • Fever.
  • Heart disease.
  • Heart failure and fluid build up in the body (congestive heart failure or CHF).
  • High blood pressure.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of holly for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Holly BERRIES are poisonous and UNSAFE for use. Eating berries may be deadly.

There isn't enough reliable information available to know if holly LEAVES are safe to eat. 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: Holly berries are UNSAFE to eat while pregnant or breast-feeding. They can kill you. There isn't enough reliable information to know if holly leaves are safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Holly berries are UNSAFE. 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.



We currently have no information for HOLLY Interactions.



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.

View References


  • Weiner MA, Weiner JA. Herbs that heal: prescription for herbal healing. Mill Valley, CA:Quantum Books, 1999.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
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