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Health benefits of Holy Basil, the Queen of Herbs

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Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) isn't like the sweet basil in your mother's marinara sauce or the Thai herb you use to flavor a steaming bowl of pho. This green leafy plant, also known as Ocimum sanctum L. and tulsi, is native to Southeast Asia. It has a history within Indian medicine as a treatment for many conditions, from eye diseases to ringworms.


From the leaves to the seed, holy basil is considered a tonic for the body, mind, and spirit. Different parts of the plant are recommended for treating different conditions:

  • Use its fresh flowers for bronchitis.
  • Use the leaves and seeds, with black pepper, for malaria.
  • Use the whole plant for diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Use the pill and ointment form for eczema.
  • Use an alcohol extract for stomach ulcers and eye diseases.
  • Use an essential oil made from the leaves for insect bites.


Many studies support the use of the entire plant of holy basil for human use and its therapeutic value. The nutritional value is also high, as it contains:

  • vitamin A and C
  • calcium
  • zinc
  • iron
  • chlorophyll


Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements. Like many supplements, holy basil is not approved as a first-line treatment. It may also interact with medications you're already taking.

Reduce stress and anxiety

All parts of the holy basil plant act as an adaptogen. An adaptogen is natural substance that helps your body adapt to stress and promotes mental balance. The concept of an adaptogen is a holistic approach. But scientific research shows that holy basil has pharmacological properties to help your mind cope with many types of stress.

The source of your stress can be:

  • chemical
  • physical
  • infectious
  • emotional

In the case of physical stress, holy basil is known to increase endurance in animals. Animals who had holy basil leaf extracts and went through environment-induced stress scenarios showed:

  • enhanced metabolism
  • improved swimming time
  • less tissue damage
  • lower stress levels in loud environments

Human and animal studies saw reduced:

  • stress
  • sexual problems
  • sleep problems
  • forgetfulness
  • exhaustion


According to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, holy basil has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties comparable to diazepam and antidepressant drugs. These studies examined the leaves. One study found that people who took 500 milligrams (mg) of holy basil extract each day felt less anxious, stressed, and depressed. People also felt more social.

Ayurvedic practitioners recommend drinking holy basil as tea using the leaves. And since it's caffeine-free, it's okay and even recommended to drink daily. The act of drinking tea can be ritualistic and as calming as yoga. It fosters clear thoughts, relaxation, and a sense of well-being.

But if the basil's bitter and spicy flavor isn't your cup of tea, a supplement in pill form or as an alcohol extract is available. There is less risk of contamination when taking an herb in natural form.

SUMMARY

Holy basil has been shown to have antidepressant and antianxiety properties similar to antidepressant drugs. Studies have shown that it can help people feel more social and less anxious.





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