- Anxiety. Early research suggests that taking holy basil leaf extract twice daily after meals reduces anxiety and associated stress and depression in people with anxiety.
- Dental plaque. Some research shows that using a mouthwash containing 4% holy basil leaf extract twice daily reduces plaque and gingivitis better than saline solution and similar to mouthwash containing 0.12% chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine is considered to be the "gold standard" for reducing plaque. Also, rinsing with another product that contains tea tree oil, clove, and holy basil seems to reduce plaque.
- Diabetes. Some early research suggests that a holy basil leaf extract might decrease blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Obesity. Early research suggests that taking holy basil doesn't seem to help with weight loss or control of blood sugar or cholesterol.
- Stress. Early research shows that taking holy basil extract by mouth in the morning and at night decreases symptoms of stress, including forgetfulness, sexual problems, exhaustion, and sleep problems.
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.
Tulsi is an aromatic shrub in the basil family Lamiaceae (tribe ocimeae) that is thought to have originated in north-central India and now grows native throughout the eastern world tropics. Within Ayurveda, tulsi is known as “The Incomparable One,” “Mother Medicine of Nature” and “The Queen of Herbs,” and is revered as an “elixir of life” that is without equal for both its medicinal and spiritual properties. Within India, tulsi has been adopted into spiritual rituals and lifestyle practices that provide a vast array of health benefits that are just beginning to be confirmed by modern science. This emerging science on tulsi, which reinforces ancient Ayurvedic wisdom, suggests that tulsi is a tonic for the body, mind, and spirit that offers solutions to many modern-day health problems.
Tulsi is perhaps one of the best examples of Ayurveda's holistic lifestyle approach to health. Tulsi tastes hot and bitter and is said to penetrate the deep tissues, dry tissue secretions and normalize Kapha and Vata. Daily consumption of tulsi is said to prevent disease, promote general health, wellbeing, and longevity and assist in dealing with the stresses of daily life. Tulsi is also credited with giving luster to the complexion, sweetness to the voice and fostering beauty, intelligence, stamina, and a calm emotional disposition.[3,4,5,6] In addition to these health-promoting properties, tulsi is recommended as a treatment for a range of conditions including anxiety, cough, asthma, diarrhea, fever, dysentery, arthritis, eye diseases, otalgia, indigestion, hiccups, vomiting, gastric, cardiac and genitourinary disorders, back pain, skin diseases, ringworm, insect, snake and scorpion bites and malaria.[3,5,6,7]
Considered as a potent adaptogen, tulsi has a unique combination of pharmacological actions that promote wellbeing and resilience. While the concept of an “adaptogen,” or herb that helps with the adaptation to stress and the promotion of homeostasis, is not widely used in Western medicine, Western science has revealed that tulsi does indeed possess many pharmacological actions that fulfill this purpose.
The medicinal properties of tulsi have been studied in hundreds of scientific studies including in vitro, animal and human experiments. These studies reveal that tulsi has a unique combination of actions that include: Antimicrobial (including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiprotozoal, antimalarial, anthelmintic), mosquito repellent, anti-diarrheal, anti-oxidant, anti-cataract, anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive, radioprotective, hepato-protective, neuro-protective, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic, anti-hypercholesterolemia, anti-hypertensive, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, anti-pyretic, anti-allergic, immunomodulatory, central nervous system depressant, memory enhancement, anti-asthmatic, anti-tussive, diaphoretic, anti-thyroid, anti-fertility, anti-ulcer, anti-emetic, anti-spasmodic, anti-arthritic, adaptogenic, anti-stress, anti-cataract, anti-leukodermal and anti-coagulant activities.[4,5,6,7] These pharmacological actions help the body and mind cope with a wide range of chemical, physical, infectious and emotional stresses and restore physiological and psychological function.
Cohen M. M. (2014). Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 5(4), 251–259. DOI:10.4103/0975-9476.146554