General Health

Holy Basil: Benefits for Your Health

Ever considered adding holy basil to your diet? Have you thought about consuming this super herb in the form of a supplement? 

Basil is a staple in Indian households. Due to its amazing immune-boosting, anti-viral, and antioxidant properties, people have been using it for hundreds of years.

It is one of the oldest and most treasured herbs on the globe, alongside ginger, turmeric, ginkgo, and lavender. 

If you love the flavor and smell of holy basil tea, you will love this one. We prepared a detailed guide of all the benefits it can offer, including the basic information you should know.

The statistical analyses listed here can come in handy if you are looking to improve your overall health. So, let’s get right to it. 

What Is Holy Basil?

Ocimum basilicum or basil has a minimum of 60 different varieties. Ocimum sanctum Linn or holy basil is one of them. It goes by many names, such as tulsi, Ocimum tenuiflorum, or just Ocimum sanctum.

This plant is a well-known medicinal herb native to the southeastern parts of Asia. Because of the leaf pattern, some people mistake it for the Ocimum gratissimum and regular basil. Unlike the typical sweet basil often used in cooking recipes, the holy basil plant is mostly valued for its medicinal properties. 

Based on historical records, the holy fresh basil was referred to as the “queen of herbs” or a plant that can’t be compared to any other. It was seen as a symbol of spiritual enlightenment, fidelity, longevity, and more. 

Both the leaves and the seed of the plant are a valuable addition to tonics, supplements, and tea. People also use it in the form of essential oil for Ayurvedic practices. It is grown, distilled, and formed into an essential oil with a similar constituent to the supplements.

All its nutrients are what make this basil a potent adaptogenic herb for nourishing the system and elevating the spirit. In short, it was used as a medicine for countless conditions, from ringworms to eye problems. Later in the years, the basil becomes a highly recommended option in eczema ointments, bronchitis treatment, and malaria. 

What Are the Benefits of Holy Basil?

The holy basil is not a regular basil leaf. In fact, there is nothing basic about it. The nutritious compounds, taste, and effect of the Ocimum sanctum are completely different from that present in a regular basil leaf. As a result, a lot of people turn to this basil to manage countless health issues. 

But what can this plant achieve that others cannot? Let’s take a look at the numerous health benefits the Ocimum sanctum Linn can offer and all the research to back it up. 

1) Soothes Anxiety, Stress, and Depression

Certain components of the holy basil serve as an adaptogen. This is a substance naturally present in the plant. With it, the basil can restore mental balance, making it a practical health benefit for those interested in restoring emotional stability. 

Adaptogens are herbs that are free of toxins, just like the Ocimum sanctum Linn. This basil is valued for aiding the body to resist all kinds of stressors, including biological, chemical, and physical. Herbs such as these are a popular addition in Chinese treatments and traditional healing practices. 

Many people who prefer ayurvedic medicine over conventional drugs often opt for adaptogens. The holy basil can offer that and more. It can reduce:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Stress
  • Exhaustion
  • Forgetfulness

Since the holy basil leaf is packed with pharmacological compounds, it can interfere with the nervous system and cope with various forms of stress, whether emotional, physical, chemical, or infectious. 

If the stress is the result of a physical stressor, the compounds in the holy basil leaf can interfere with the stress receptors and calm the mind. 

Based on an animal study, the tulsi leaf has numerous therapeutic properties. Ocimum sanctum has proved as a useful option for dealing with immunological and psychological stress both in humans and animals. With effects such as these, people can reduce or prevent numerous health conditions. 

According to other reports, holy basil might have the exact same therapeutic, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant properties as diazepam. When the holy basil leaf was examined, it was found that individuals who consumed 500mg of a tulsi basil extract, their anxiety, stress, and depression subsided. 

2) Protects the Body from Infections and Speeds up Healing

Not many plant extracts have what holy basil can offer. Its leaves and seeds are packed with:

With compounds such as these, it can have numerous uses. Patients who’ve had a surgery and prefer holistic medicine, often turn to the holy basil to treat the body and shield the wounds. The reason for that is relatively simple. 

The plant has the properties to reduce wound breakage, which is essential when looking to speed up the body’s natural rejuvenation process. It doesn’t put any pressure on the wound and lets it heal on its own. 

Clinical studies show that the tulsi extract can speed up wound healing, strengthen the formation of the connective tissue, and boost the human body’s antioxidant level. All of these effects can help prevent diseases and bacteria from getting into the system through open wounds. 

3) Keeps the Blood Sugar in a Healthy Balance

Managing the blood sugar levels and blood pressure with a metabolic condition can be immensely challenging, especially when it affects your daily life. 

The medicinal effects of the plant can come in handy for avoiding diabetes symptoms, such as insulin resistance, unstable cholesterol levels, and hypertension. 

Based on an animal study, the leaves of the holy basil plant can significantly reduce the blood glucose and control cholesterol levels, particularly when fasting. Reports show that the blood sugar dropped by 17.6% in the group that focused on fasting, and 7.3% in the group received postprandial blood sugar control. 

If you have diabetes or any underlying health condition and consider adding this potent basil to your regiment or tea, it’s best to consult with a doctor beforehand. 

The doctor can analyze your personal information, history with diseases, and medication to determine the ideal approach. The supplement could interfere with other medicines, so it’s essential to get a professional opinion. 

4) Promotes Healthy Teeth

Not many plants have the anti-plaque, and anti-bacterial agents holy basil has. This one can prevent oral infections, soothe a toothache, calm the plaque, etc. 

Based on reports from the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, the plant could be an effective option for plaque control. When used as a mouthwash, holy basil can provide the teeth with prophylactic effects, all of which have potent anti-bacterial properties. 

This is not the first time the tulsi plant was praised for its teeth-healing effects. The tulsi leaves were used for soothing regular oral infections even before conventional medication became available. 

People chewed on the leaves to keep their teeth healthy. In modern analgesics, the plant extract is still popular. That’s because the leaves contain 71% eugenol, 0.7% volatile oil, and 20% methyl eugenol. These are all compounds that can benefit our oral hygiene. 

5) Treats Arthritis Pain

In many cases, arthritis can cause debilitating pain and discomfort. The extract of the holy basil can decrease the swelling by 73% after 24/h treatment

Its anti-inflammatory compounds work well for soothing the symptoms of arthritis and reducing the inflammation. As a result, the product can come in handy not just for arthritis but also for other inflammatory conditions. 

The compounds in the holy basil can interfere with the pain receptors and calm the symptoms. That’s why it can work on the joint pain as well. Due to its pain-soothing properties, the leaf has been a popular folk remedy for all sorts of discomforts. 

However, not all types of sacred basil leaves have the same medicinal effect. The sweeter variety, or the one that isn’t cultivated in Asia, might contain less eugenol – the compound responsible for the pain soothing properties. 

The leaves with the highest eugenol content seem to work better on arthritis pain. In comparison, the Krishna tulsi (the purple basil) is used for curing infections, indigestion, respiratory problems, skin diseases, etc. 

6) Nourishes the Skin

Since the plant is packed with anti-inflammatory properties, many people use it for treating:

  • Acne

  • Eczema
  • Insect bites

  • Scars

  • Irritation

  • Redness

All its medicinal and therapeutic compounds soothe the inflammation and accelerate the body’s natural rejuvenation.

Regardless of the skin complexion, you are dealing with; you could benefit from including a basil supplement, holy basil leaf extract, or ointment to your skincare routine. It can hydrate the skin and give it a healthy glow. 

7) Alkalizes the System

Many people use green herbs when fasting. This is to promote a natural cleansing process meant to flush out all the toxins from the system. Even though a cleansing process is temporary, you still need a proper herb to get the job done. Holy basil can help with that. 

The plant is packed with numerous compounds, such as rosmarinic acid, carnosol, apigenin, and eugenol. They stimulate antioxidant enhancement along with inhibitory effects. As a result, the plant helps the system digest all the fluids and foods properly without letting it become too acidic. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, the cleansing properties could effectively protect the liver against toxins. The herb can positively affect the enzyme levels and stabilize the antioxidant activity in the liver. 

A typical example of an herb with such properties is the aqueous holy basil extract. It is used to shield the mice from a radiation-induced chromosome and liver damage. The enzymes in the plant have a crucial role to play in stabilizing such activities. They manage the oxidative stress, which, in turn, triggers the body to get rid of the toxins by itself. 

That’s why a lot of people add the holy basil in herbal tea or purchase it in the form of a dietary supplement. 

8) Protects the Body from Cancer

Despite the limited research, it seems that holy basil can have some amazing properties on the body. The phytochemicals it contains could prevent oral, liver, skin, or lung cancer. Its antioxidant properties are shown to alter the gene expression and induce apoptosis. 

With these effects, the normal tissues can stay safe from the free radicals and prevent any potential DNA damage. 

Based on clinical studies, the ethanol extract of the plant can speed up the enzymes and possibly prevent cancer cells’ formation. That’s why scientists view it as an antimetastatic herb. 

All the agents present in the herb can promote gene migration that could prove effective for avoiding many forms of cancer. It also might suppress the free radicals in already affected patients. 

How Does the Holy Basil Work?

Ocimum sanctum does for your adrenal glands what workouts do to the muscles – it trains the system. The more we prepare our body, the easier it becomes to deal with the stress. Adaptogens are meant to train the system to help it overcome all forms of stress. 

When the holy basil is ingested, the plant starts to interact with the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, including the sympathoadrenal system. They are a crucial factor in responding to stressors. 

The way the holy basil works is by tweaking the production of the happy hormones in an effort to react to physiological or psychological stress. With it, it ensures that the mind and the body have the energy they need to function properly, experts explain for Time Magazine.  

However, there is not a lot of research to back up their effect. Adaptogens like the holy basil have been studied across the years numerous times. But their effects often vary depending on the concentration level, health condition, and the user’s immune system.

Overall, they directly impact the human body and can prove beneficial for multiple health issues. 

What’s the Best Therapeutic Dosage?

There are all kinds of options to take holy basil, such as standard extracts, fluid extracts, and tulsi tea. Like any herbal supplement, there is a dosage limit you should look out for. That way, you get to maximize its potential and avoid unnecessary side effects. 

These are the ideal doses recommended by Mederi Center for Holistic Healing and Health:

  • Holy basil tea – from 2 to 4 cups a day.

  • Fluid extract with a 1:1 ratio – 3 to 5 mL a day.

  • Standard holy basil extract with 2.50% ursolic acid – 200 to 500 mg a day.

Possible Side Effects

Holy basil is a relatively safe plant to use. But, according to medical experts, it is not without its risks. There are many flaws associated with the flavorful plant that shouldn’t be overlooked. In rare cases, the holy basil showed it could:

  • Reduce fertility rates

  • Increase bleeding

  • Drop the blood glucose levels

  • Slow blood clotting

While these side effects are fewer than typical medication, they can pose a severe problem for individuals with serious health complications. That includes patients on blood thinners, anyone with diabetes, or a chronic problem. 

If you are taking diazepam, pentobarbital, or scopolamine, you might be advised to stay away from a holy basil supplement, even if it is an organic product. The effects of the plant are so potent; they can interfere with the medication.

Another thing to think about is an allergic reaction. Do not underestimate allergies as an impactful side effect. It can have a more drastic influence than you realize. 

Individuals who are sensitive/allergic to the mint (Lamiaceae) plant family should avoid implementing holy basil as a supplement or applying the essential oil to the skin. The leaves and extract can cause an upset stomach and make the experience feel somewhat uncomfortable. 

If you are trying to get pregnant or have chronic diseases, consult with a doctor before adding the holy basil to your diet. 

Conclusion

With such an amazing amount of medicinal properties, it’s no wonder why so many people are looking to implement holy basil in their daily diet. While it can have all the nutrients you need, it’s still important that you consult with a doctor before adding it to your regime.

Are you looking forward to trying out the basil? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Sources

  1. Chittaranjan Kole. (2018) The Ocimum Genome. [online] Cham, Switzerland. Available at: https://books.google.mk/books?id=dFdxDwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
  2. National Institutes of Health. (2017) Negar Jamshidi. The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5376420/
  3. ResearchGate. (2013) Manish Gautam. Wound Healing Effect of Ocimum sanctum Leaves Extracts in Diabetic Rats. [online] Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258424040_Wound_Healing_Effect_of_Ocimum_sanctum_Leaves_Extract_in_Diabetic_Rats
  4. National Library of Medicine. (1996) P. Agrawal. Randomized Placebo-Controlled, Single-Blind Trial of Holy Basil Leaves in Patients With Noninsulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. [online] Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8880292/
  5. National Institutes of Health. (2016) Yuvaraj Ponnusam. Antioxidant Activity of The Ancient Herb, Holy Basil in CCl4-Induced Liver Injury in Rats. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4766851/
  6. National Institutes of Health. (2014) Manasa Hosamane. Evaluation of holy basil mouthwash as an adjunctive plaque control agent in a four-day plaque regrowth model. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4312674/
  7. EC Dental Science. (2017) Sruthi K. Nair. Holy Herb Tulsi as a cure for Oral and Periodontal Disease – A Review. [online] Available at:  https://www.ecronicon.com/ecde/pdf/ECDE-10-00345.pdf
  8. Time (2018) Jamie Ducharme. What Are Adaptogens and Why Are People Taking Them? [online] Available at: https://time.com/5025278/adaptogens-herbs-stress-anxiety/
  9. WebMD. Holy Basil. [online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/holy-basiil-uses-and-risks#2-4
  10. Mederi Center Wholistic Health and Healing. Holy Basil: An Herb With Incomparable Benefits. [online] Available at: https://medericenter.org/the-mederi-blog/holy-basil-an-herb-with-incomparable-benefits.html
  11. National Library of Medicine. (2009) Venkataraman Magesh. Ocimum Sanctum Induces Apoptosis in A549 Lung Cancer Cells and Suppresses the in Vivo Growth of Lewis Lung Carcinoma Cells. [online] Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19277950/

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