Boxwood is a shrub. People use chemicals (extract) from the leaf of boxwood to make medicine. But the leaf itself should not be used for medicine. It can cause serious harm, including death.

People use boxwood extract for conditions such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and arthritis, and as a "blood-detoxifying agent," but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
When taken by mouth: Extract of boxwood leaf is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for up to 16 months. But using whole boxwood leaf is LIKELY UNSAFE. It has serious side effects that the leaf extract doesn't seem to have. Whole boxwood leaf can cause poisoning, including life-threatening side effects such as seizures and paralysis. It can also cause death.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It's LIKELY UNSAFE to use whole boxwood leaf, whether or not you are pregnant or breast-feeding. There isn't enough reliable information to know if boxwood extract is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Slow heart rate (bradycardia): Boxwood extract might slow down the heart rate. This could be a problem in people who already have a slow heart rate.

Gastrointestinal tract blockage: Boxwood extract might cause "congestion" in the intestines. This might cause problems in people who have a blockage in their intestines.

Ulcers: Boxwood extract might increase secretions in the stomach and intestines. There is concern that this could worsen ulcers.

Lung conditions: Boxwood extract might increase fluid secretions in the lung. There is concern that this could worsen lung conditions such as asthma or emphysema.

Seizures: There is concern that boxwood extract might increase the risk of seizures.

Urinary tract obstruction: Boxwood extract might increase secretions in the urinary tract. There is concern that this could worsen urinary obstruction.


NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions
  • HIV/AIDS. Early evidence suggests that taking boxwood leaf extract might delay disease progression in people with HIV.
  • Arthritis.
  • Detoxifying the blood.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of boxwood for these uses.

Dosing & administration

The appropriate dose of boxwood 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 boxwood. 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.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Boxwood extract might increase levels of certain chemicals in the body that work in the brain, heart, and elsewhere. Some drying medications called "anticholinergic drugs" can also these same chemicals, but in a different way. These drying medications might decrease the effects of boxwood extract, and boxwood extract might decrease the effects of drying medications.

Some of these drying medications include atropine, scopolamine, some medications used for allergies (antihistamines), and some medications used for depression (antidepressants).

Various medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions (Cholinergic drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Boxwood extract might increase certain chemicals in the brain, heart, and elsewhere in the body. Some medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions also affect these chemicals. Taking boxwood extract with these medications might increase the chance of side effects.

Some of these medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions include pilocarpine (Pilocar and others), donepezil (Aricept), tacrine (Cognex), and others.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.


Boxwood might stop the parasite that causes malaria from reproducing. It might also stop viruses, but there isn't enough scientific evidence to support this theory. has licensed monographs from TRC Healthcare.
This monograph was last reviewed on 27/01/2023 20:30:14 and last updated on 22/01/2022 22:43:59. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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