Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum or Ocimum tenuiflorum) is an aromatic plant from the mint (or Labiatae or Lamiaceae) family. Though it is closely related to the Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) which is a staple of Italian and Asian cooking, holy basil has a much richer history. This plant is a native to the Indian Subcontinent and a cultivated throughout the Southeast Asian tropics. It has only recently gained popularity in the United States although it has been grown in India for more than 3,000 years.
Worshiped Across Cultures:
Holy basil has been used extensively for its medicinal values by a number of cultures. Chinese medicine uses holy basil for stomach spasms, kidney conditions, to promote blood circulation, and to treat snake and insect bites.
In India, holy basil is known as tulsi, which translates as “incomparable one.” The plant, which is considered sacred and used extensively in religious ceremonies. But while its history is deeply rooted in religion and mythology, it has also been used in several ancient systems of medicine including Ayurveda, Greek, Roman, and Siddha for thousands of years. According to Ayurvedic tradition, tulsi is one of the best herbs to prepare the heart and mind for spiritual practices, resolve colds and flu, treat various skin conditions, and reduce fever.
Modern research suggests that holy basil contains powerful antioxidants and it may be hepatoprotective (liver protecting). Also, preliminary clinical studies are investigating holy basil’s effect on ulcers and blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. Holy basil has generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status in the United States.
How Does Holy Basil Help Combat Stress?
Holy basil functions as an adaptogen, enhancing the body’s natural response to physical and emotional stress. Adaptogenic herbs do not alter mood, but rather, they help the body function optimally during times of stress.
Multiple scientific studies examining this property of Ocimum sanctum have found that supplementation with various extracts of holy basil decrease stress hormone levels, corticosterone in particular. Lower levels of corticosterone are associated with improved mental clarity and memory, and long-term, can reduce the risk of age-related mental disorders.
TOP 20 CURES OF WONDER HERB – HOLY BASIL:
- Healing Powers: Holy Basil acts as a nerve tonic, clears the bronchial tube of catarrhal matter and phlegm, strengthen the stomach and induce copious perspiration. Its antiseptic properties aid in healing ulcers, cuts and wounds, and reduce the pain caused by measles, chicken pox and small pox. A mixture of basil leaves juice and coconut oil can be applied on cuts and wounds to give relief.
- Heart Health: Basil contains a potent antioxidant, eugenol that provides a host of cardiovascular benefits including blood purification, lowering LDL cholesterol, and blood glucose levels, primary causes for heart attacks and other ailments.
- Pediatric Care: Kids suffering from commonly occurring ailments like cough, cold, diarrhea and vomiting can find relief by sipping some basil juice. Basil leaves, with saffron, expedite chicken pox pustules outbreak leading to quicker relief. Mixture of Basil leaf powder and pomegranate juice cures loose motion normally associated with tooth eruption in kids.
- Fights Mouth Infections: Its anti-bacterial and anti-germicidal properties prevent bacterial build up and are curative for ulcer, infections in the mouth, pyorrhea (inflammation of gums) and other teeth disorders, and bad breath (halitosis). The antioxidants in Basil clear plaque from the teeth.
- Cures Insect Bites: The herb is a prophylactic (preventive) and curative for insect stings or bites. Fresh juice can be applied to the stung area and a paste of fresh roots is also effective in case of bites of insects and leeches, helping relieve the pain as well as draw the venom out.
- Helps Quitting Smoking: If you really mean to get off the smoking habit and have tried standard nicotine patches, flavored gum or even plain candy, chewing on a few leaves might change everything. Not only does it give that tingling cool feeling in your throat, but the antioxidants jump in to repair the damage caused due to years of smoking.
- Fever Care: Basil is rich in phytonutrients, enabling both forms (tea or juice) prevent the occurrence of diseases like malaria and dengue fever, and bring down temperature associated with high fever. Its germicidal and disinfectant properties shield the body against almost all viral and bacterial attacks. Basil leaves are effective in alleviating coughs, colds and flu symptoms.
- Soothes Sore Throat: Gargling with or drinking basil tea (strained and without milk) relieves throat inflammation and irritation, normally the precursor to more severe infections.
- Treats Respiratory Disorders: Since ancient times, Basil, with ginger, cloves and salt, has been the most effective treatment in soothing respiratory inflammations like bronchitis, asthma, influenza, cough and cold.
- Prevents Kidney Stones: A regular consumption of a concoction of Basil juice and honey strengthens the renal (kidney) functions, and helps dissolve and eliminate kidney stones naturally.
- Heals Skin Disorders: Basil juice is a good anti-bacterial and anti-fungal lotion, that restricts the growth of bacterium like E coli and B anthracis, which cause skin infections like ringworm, leukoderma (spots of unpigmented skin), vitiligo (white patches), and preventing acne, blackheads, and pimples through blood purification and toxic elimination.
- Cures Headaches: A paste of Basil leaves and sandalwood, applied on the forehead provides an instant cooling effect and relief from heat, and headache. A facial steam of this wonder herb’s leaves just opens up your senses and refreshes you.
- Vision Care: The abundance of vital Vitamin A in Basil juice provides relief from sore eyes and also treats night-blindness, conjunctivitis, swelling, inflammations, boils, vision degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and other infections.
- Anti-aging: Antioxidant rich Holy basil extract, is effective at killing off harmful molecules and preventing damage caused by some free radicals in the liver, brain and heart.
- Relieves Vomiting: If you are suffering from frequent vomiting, you can try having a mixture of basil leaves juice, ginger juice and honey for immediate relief.
- Aids Weight Loss: The magical mixture of fresh Basil leaves with home-made fresh yogurt can help in reducing excess weight, recharge your drained battery (energy) sources and facilitate new blood cells formation.
- Beats Stress: Basil has long been hailed as an anti-stress agent that purifies your blood, prevents stress, clears the mind and keeps it sharp and active.
- Prevents Hair Loss: Paste of Basil leaves added to your normal hair oil improves blood circulation, reduces itchiness and sweatiness in your scalp, prevents premature graying, split ends, strengthens the hair shaft and hair follicles, and rejuvenates hair growth.
- Reduces Radiation Impact: Basil leaves have antioxidant properties and contain the flavonoids, orientin and vicenin that protect the chromosomes and cell structures from oxidation, thus preventing cell ageing and death, and providing protection against radiation damage.
- Nutrient Source: Basil contains a wide range of essential oils rich in phenolic compounds, polyphenols such as flavonoids and anthocyanins, and high quantities of (E)-beta-caryophyllene (BCP), which is useful in treating arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Side Effects and Precautions:
- Holy basil is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women. Based on traditional use, holy basil may stimulate uterine contractions.
- Holy basil may prolong bleeding time. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding.
- Holy basil may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver’s “cytochrome P450” enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood, and may cause increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions.
- Holy basil may reduce the amnesic (memory loss) and increase the sedative effects of some medications.
- Holy basil may drastically reduce blood sugar levels when used in conjunction with sugar lowering drugs.
- Caution is advised in patients taking statins or other cholesterol lowering agents, as holy basil may reduce serum lipid levels.