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.

How it works

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


Not Proven
Digestive disorders
Joint pain (rheumatism)
Water retention
Heart disease
High blood pressure
Other conditions



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.



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 duringpregnancyorbreast-feeding is safe. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.Dosing considerations for Holly.

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.


No information available.

The information provided on this page is for reference purposes and is not meant to be used as a medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with a medical professional. The content on this page has been provided with thanks by RxList.com