Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions
Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.2 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.3. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.
Boldo has been used in South America for a variety of digestive conditions, although this may have stemmed from its impact on intestinal infections or liver function. Studies specifically showing a benefit from taking boldo in people with indigestion and heartburn have not been performed. Picrorhiza, from India, has a similar story to that of boldo. While it is clearly a bitter digestive stimulant, human studies to confirm this have not yet been completed.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Boldo has a long history of use by the indigenous people of Chile, as a liver tonic and in the treatment of gallstones.
How It Works
How It Works
Boldo contains several types of primary constituents, including volatile oils (for example, ascaridole, eucalyptol), flavonoids, and alkaloids. Boldine, which constitutes about one-fourth of the total number of alkaloids present, is the major alkaloid.4 Scientists believe that boldine is responsible for the plant’s choloretic (bile stimulating) and diuretic actions.5 In conjunction with other herbs, such as cascara, rhubarb, and gentian, boldo has been reported to improve appetite.6 Ascaridole, a compound found in the volatile oil of the plant, has been used as an anti-parasitic agent but is no longer recommended due its to toxic side effects.7
How to Use It
Tinctures that are free of ascaridoles are sometimes recommended. People may take 1 ml of tincture three times per day. Volatile oil of boldo is not recommended due to its high ascaridole content.8, 9 The dried leaf can be used as an infusion at 3 grams per day.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.
Interactions with Medicines
As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The German Commission E monograph suggests that only an ascaridole-free preparation should be used internally. Boldo contains terpene-4-ol, an ingredient similar to that found in juniper, and should be avoided by people with kidney disease, as it could cause kidney irritation.10, 11 In addition, the herb should not be taken during pregnancy or breast-feeding. It should also be avoided by people who have obstruction of the liver bile duct, or severe liver disease.12 There is one case report of liver damage occurring in a person taking a laxative containing boldo. The herb was suspected, though not proven, to be the cause.13 Excessive use of the herb over long time periods (more than three to four weeks continuously) is not recommended.
3. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 425–6.
4. Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Tyler’s Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicines. New York: Haworth Press, 1999, 74–5.
5. Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Tyler’s Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicines. New York: Haworth Press, 1999, 74–5.
6. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 46–7.
7. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 46–7.
8. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 46–7.
9. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 93–4.
10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 93–4.
11. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 46–7.
12. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Publications, 1997, 26.
13. Piscaglia F, Leoni S, Venturi A, et al. Caution in the use of boldo in herbal laxatives: a case of hepatotoxicity. Scand J Gastroenterol 2005;40:236–9.
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.