What is holy basil?
Holy basil, scientifically known as Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum, is an aromatic shrub belonging to the Lamiaceae basil plant family. It is native to north-central India and is now widely cultivated throughout the Eastern world.
Also referred to as tulsi, which translates to “the incomparable one” in Hindu, holy basil is a perennial plant with a pleasant lemon scent and purple-pink flowers. In India, it is commonly grown as a houseplant, and various extracts, oils, and supplements can be derived from its seeds, leaves, flowers, and stems.
The primary source of holy basil’s therapeutic compounds is its oval-shaped leaves, which possess a slightly sharp tip and are often used to make tulsi tea.
There are several types of tulsi, including Rama tulsi (white and green), Shyam tulsi (dark pinkish-purple), Krishna tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), and Vana tulsi (Ocimum gratissimum).
Holy basil is believed to have protective properties for organs and tissues, effectively defending against different factors such as chemical stress from industrial pollutants, heavy metals, physical stress, overtraining symptoms due to prolonged physical exertion, ischemia (poor blood circulation), exposure to extreme temperatures, and excessive noise.
It is important to note that scientific research on holy basil is still ongoing, and while its potential benefits are being studied, further research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms of action and therapeutic applications.
Health benefits of holy basil supplements.
1. Fights Skin Infections and Acne Holy basil also referred to as tulsi possesses antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. These characteristics make it a valuable natural remedy for various skin conditions, including bacterial-induced skin infections and acne breakouts. Holy basil is believed to have both internal and external benefits for the skin. Its primary active compound, eugenol, is similar to the antimicrobial properties found in clove oil. Additionally, holy basil contains gamma-caryophyllene and methyl eugenol, which contribute to its therapeutic effects. Research suggests that when combined with coconut oil as a carrier, herbal products containing holy basil have improved skin absorption, potentially increasing their efficacy in treating acne.
2. Protects Against Diabetes Holy basil, or tulsi, has demonstrated the ability to regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels according to multiple experiments conducted on test tubes, animals, and human clinical trials. One particular trial, which was randomized, placebo-controlled, and single-blind, highlighted the anti-diabetic properties of holy basil. Participants with noninsulin-dependent diabetes experienced reductions in fasting blood sugar levels, postprandial (after-meal) blood sugar levels, urine blood sugar levels, and mean total cholesterol levels during the treatment phase. The findings suggest that holy basil may be a beneficial component of treatment plans for individuals with metabolic syndrome or mild to moderate noninsulin-dependent diabetes.
3. Helps Combat Cancer According to scientific research, regular consumption of tulsi, also known as holy basil, may reduce the likelihood of immune compromisation and lower susceptibility to certain types of cancer. A study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer reveals that tulsi and its phytochemical components, including eugenol, rosmarinic acid, apigenin, myretenal, luteolin, β-sitosterol, and carnosic acid, have demonstrated potential in preventing chemical-induced lung, liver, oral, and skin cancers. This is attributed to the herb’s anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties, which have been found to modulate gene expressions, induce cancer cell death, inhibit the formation of blood vessels that support cancer growth, and impede metastasis—the spread of cancer to other organs.
4. Moreover, holy basil appears to offer protection against radiation poisoning and can potentially minimize radiation treatment-related damage. A review published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer suggests that tulsi selectively safeguards normal tissues from the harmful effects of radiation. Interestingly, the review also highlights how tulsi may cause fewer side effects compared to other cancer treatments due to its generally non-toxic nature.
5. Balances Stress Hormones There is evidence to support the notion that tulsi acts as an adaptogen, offering a unique combination of pharmacological actions to address physical, chemical, metabolic, and psychological stress. Among its well-documented effects, tulsi has been found to naturally balance hormone levels and aid in the management of anxiety symptoms.
6. Relieves Fever Holy basil is recognized for its immune-supporting properties and is commonly recommended as a natural fever reliever, particularly within Ayurvedic medicine. The leaves of holy basil are believed to possess antibiotic, germicidal, and disinfectant qualities, which contribute to their ability to protect against bacterial and viral pathogens. Fevers are an indication of the body’s defense mechanism against infections. Therefore, given tulsi’s infection-fighting properties, it has the potential to assist in combating fever symptoms.
7. Helps Improve Respiratory Disorders Holy basil contains beneficial compounds like camphene, eugenol, and cineole that are known to provide relief from congestion and alleviate symptoms associated with respiratory disorders. Scientific studies have validated its remarkable anti-asthmatic properties, making it a commonly recommended herb in Ayurvedic medicine for respiratory issues. Holy basil’s ability to ease breathing difficulties makes it a valuable natural remedy for respiratory conditions.
8. Good Source of Vitamin K A single cup of tulsi leaves contains a vitamin K content that surpasses the daily recommended value, serving as an ideal source to prevent vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K plays a vital role in bone health and cardiovascular well-being. It is involved in bone mineralization, and blood clotting, and contributes to cognitive function, metabolic health, and cellular well-being. Animal studies documented in the Alternative Medicine Review have also indicated the potential cardio-protective properties of Ocimum tenuiflorum/Ocimum sanctum, suggesting its ability to support heart function, maintain healthy arteries, and promote proper circulation.
9. Supports Dental Care and Oral Health Holy basil has the ability to combat the presence of bacteria in the mouth that can contribute to various dental issues, including cavities, plaque buildup, tartar formation, and bad breath. Its natural properties make it an effective mouth freshener and cleanser by promoting a healthy balance of microorganisms in the oral cavity and effectively eliminating harmful bacteria and germs. Incorporating a herbal mouthwash containing basil leaf extract into your oral hygiene routine twice a day has shown promising results in reducing plaque formation and lowering the risk of developing gingivitis. Additionally, tulsi may provide relief from mouth ulcers, and laboratory studies have suggested its potential in inhibiting the growth of oral cancer cells. For a natural approach to dental care, consider adding a drop of tulsi essential oil to your toothpaste or incorporating a cup of tulsi tea into your daily regimen.
10. May Relieve Headaches Practitioners of Ayurveda commonly suggest holy basil as a natural remedy for headaches, particularly for the relief of migraine pain. Scientific research suggests that this efficacy stems from its ability to alleviate inflammation, sinus pressure, and muscular tension by countering the effects of stress. If you experience headaches, you may find it beneficial to diffuse holy basil essential oil or prepare tulsi tea as a soothing measure to reduce the symptoms associated with headaches.
11. Supports Eye Health The eyes are susceptible to viral, bacterial, and fungal infections, which can pose serious risks. Within Ayurveda, holy basil is often recommended for combating conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, due to its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. Additionally, it may have preventive effects on various eye conditions, including cataracts. According to Dr. S.K. Gupta from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the application of a topical herbal eye drop mixture containing extracts of turmeric and holy basil helps combat oxidative stress and the formation of insoluble proteins, which are underlying factors in the development of cataracts.
How to use holy basil?
1. Never take more than one dose at a time. It is essential to adhere to the recommended dosage when consuming holy basil in capsule or extract form to avoid excessive intake. While holy basil is generally considered safe for ingestion, consuming an excessive amount can potentially magnify its few side effects. On the other hand, consuming holy basil through tea or soup is typically associated with fewer side effects due to the lower dosage involved. It is advisable to exercise caution and follow the recommended guidelines to ensure the safe consumption of holy basil and minimize the risk of adverse effects.
2 . Do not chew holy basil leaves for longer than several minutes. While small amounts of holy basil can have a positive impact on oral health, it is important to be cautious as prolonged chewing of the herb may gradually erode tooth enamel. To avoid this potential issue, it is advisable to consume holy basil in alternative forms such as tea or by using toothpaste that contains holy basil. In accordance with Ayurvedic traditions, chewing holy basil is traditionally regarded as a form of disrespect, and alternative methods of ingestion are preferred to uphold the herb’s sacred significance.
3, Contact a doctor if you experience chronic drowsiness or clotting issues. Before incorporating holy basil into your regimen, it is important to be aware of potential side effects. In some cases, holy basil can lead to excessive drowsiness and impede blood clotting following an injury. To determine whether the benefits outweigh the potential risks, it is recommended to schedule a consultation with a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your individual circumstances and provide guidance regarding the use of holy basil.
Furthermore, it is crucial to avoid combining holy basil with anticonvulsants, sedatives, or blood clot medications, as such combinations can intensify the side effects of holy basil.
It is worth noting that high doses of holy basil have been associated with decreased sperm counts and male infertility. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of dosage and consult with a healthcare professional for appropriate usage guidance.
4. Use holy basil alongside, not instead of, medical treatment. While holy basil has undergone clinical studies demonstrating its benefits, it is important to understand that it should not be considered a replacement for prescription medication. It is advised to take holy basil as a supplement alongside other medications and to seek guidance from a doctor or dietitian before incorporating it into your lifestyle. Pregnant individuals should avoid taking concentrated holy basil capsules or extracts, as the effects of holy basil on expecting women and the potential risk of birth defects have not been extensively researched. To determine if holy basil is appropriate as a supplement to your prescription medications, it is recommended to consult with a naturopathic doctor who can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation.
Side effects of holy basil.
When taken orally, holy basil is considered to be potentially safe for short-term use. It has been reported as safe when holy basil leaf extract is taken at a dose of 500 mg daily for a period of 60 to 90 days. However, it is worth noting that some individuals may experience mild gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea or diarrhea. It is important to highlight that there is currently insufficient reliable information to determine the long-term safety of using holy basil.
When applied topically as a mouthwash, holy basil is also considered potentially safe for short-term use. However, further research is required to establish its long-term safety when used on the skin.
The best time to take holy basil.
The appropriate timing for taking holy basil can vary based on the intended purpose of its use. It is important to consider the specific reason for taking holy basil when determining the optimal time to consume it.
For instance, if the goal is to promote relaxation and alleviate stress, some individuals may find it beneficial to take holy basil in the evening or before bedtime to support a restful sleep. Conversely, if the aim is to enhance focus and boost energy levels during the day, taking holy basil in the morning may be more suitable.
Ultimately, the timing of taking holy basil should be based on individual preferences and the desired effects one wishes to achieve. It is advisable to seek guidance from a healthcare professional for personalized recommendations based on individual needs and circumstances.
Is holy basil the best supplement for memory?
Holy Basil, an herb deeply rooted in Ayurvedic medicine, has gained recognition for its extensive traditional use in supporting overall health and well-being. Revered for centuries, it is renowned for its potential to offer a wide range of benefits, including the improvement of memory and cognitive function.
How do you get holy basil supplement ?
provides a unique blend of stress-adapting botanicals for fatigue resistance. Strengthens the Body’s Stress Response and Improves Stress Resilience. Improves Memory, Focus, and Attention. Supports Cognitive Health. Improves Mental and Physical Performance. Supports Healthy Cortisol and Energy Levels