Holy basil: benefits and side effects

Holy basil, whose scientific name is Ocimum tenuiflorum L., It is a plant native to Southeast Asia. It should not be confused with sweet basil that is used in cooking, since its flavor and properties are different. It is also known as tulsi and has a long history in Indian medicine.

The plant is characterized by having purple flowers and buds and green stems. In addition, it has an intense spicy flavor that is often used in Thai cuisine. What benefits are attributed to it? In which cases is it contraindicated? We will detail it below.

Nutritional properties of holy basil

Both the leaves and the seeds of holy basil are used for medicinal purposes. In fact, coinciding with a post on The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, is known as "the queen of herbs." In particular, It stands out for its adaptogenic properties that increase the body's resistance to stress.

It is also valued for its nutrient content, among which the following stand out:

  • Vitamins A and C.
  • Calcium.
  • Zinc.
  • Iron.
  • Chlorophyll.
  • Protein.
  • Fatty acids.

An article published in Pharmacognosy Reviews details, in turn, that this plant has other properties:

  • Antifertility.
  • Anti-tumor.
  • Antidiabetic
  • Antifungal.
  • Antimicrobial.
  • Cardioprotective.
  • Painkiller
  • Antispasmodic.

In Thai cuisine, this variety of basil provides a characteristic spicy touch.

Benefits of holy basil for health

It is no coincidence that holy basil is classified as "nature's mother medicine." For hundreds of years it is used as an adjunct to promote physical and mental well-being. It is even common to find it planted around Hindu shrines, since it is valued for inducing the balance between mind, body and spirit.

His other name, tulsi, means "the incomparable." In addition, it is also known as "holy basil", "basilic sacré"Or"tulasi». Given its composition, a series of benefits are attributed to it. Many have even been endorsed by science. Let's see in detail.

Also read: Types of basil that you can grow in your garden

Reduction of stress and anxiety

Without a doubt, one of the main benefits of holy basil is the relief of feelings of stress. All parts of the plant They have compounds with adaptogenic power that facilitate the body's adaptation to anxiety states. In turn, it promotes mental balance and calm.

A review of studies released through Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine explains that the pharmacological compounds of this plant help to cope with various forms of stress, such as chemical, infectious, emotional and physical.

In particular, it has been shown to induce better metabolism, less tissue damage, less exhaustion, and lower levels of stress in noisy environments.

The study in Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine suggests that holy basil has anxiolytic and antidepressant properties comparable to diazepam and antidepressant drugs. More evidence is still required in this regard.

Protection against some infections

Due to its chemical composition, holy basil exerts an antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effect. Therefore, its extracts are useful in preventing various types of infections, especially in the presence of wounds.

Regarding this, a study revealed in Frontiers in Microbiology determined that tulsi essential oil can be an effective topical antimicrobial agent, since it fights microorganisms such as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.

In turn, an investigation in Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry found that holy basil mouthwash helped inhibit strains Intermediate Prevotella and Fusobacterium nucleatum, associated with dental plaque.

Cardiovascular health care

Due to its ability to improve the response to metabolic stress, this plant is an aid in weight loss and the control of cholesterol levels. Based on animal studies, fresh basil leaves help reduce high cholesterol levels induced by stress.

In particular, it was useful in lowering total cholesterol in the kidney, liver and heart of animals. Although studies are lacking in this area, it is believed that the same effects can occur in humans. Therefore, the plant could act in the prevention of cardiovascular events.

Anti-inflammatory effects

Evidence for holy basil also supports its anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers believe that the plant has substances that act alone or in conjunction with others to inhibit inflammation. This, in general, is beneficial in preventing chronic diseases, such as arthritis, cancer, and cardiovascular disorders.

Control of high glucose levels

An investigation in animals disclosed in Journal of Ethnopharmacology observed that holy basil extract helped reduce blood sugar levels by up to 24.6% over a 30-day period.

Although more evidence is lacking, these effects are believed to be due to its ability to enhance metabolism, lower cholesterol and control insulin resistance.

Other possible benefits of holy basil

Beyond the aforementioned effects, holy basil is credited with another wide variety of benefits. However, as the US corporation points out WebMD, the evidence is insufficient. These benefits include the following:

  • Prevention of premature aging.
  • Asthma relief and prevention.
  • Decreased inflammation of the airways.
  • Relief from the common cold.
  • Reduction of indigestion.
  • Decreased headache.
  • Relief from ear infections.

The possibility that this plant contributes to reducing cholesterol puts it under study to prevent cardiovascular events.

Side effects and contraindications

To date, no serious side effects have been reported regarding the use of holy basil. For most healthy adults it is considered safe, with little or no side effects. In particular, nausea or digestive discomfort may occur, especially if its use is excessive.

Anyway, it appears to be safe when consumed for up to 6 weeks. For now, its effects in longer consumption have not been studied. It is not recommended in pregnant, lactating women, children or infants. It should also not be used in case of bleeding disorders or if surgery is approaching.

Discover: Basil as a natural remedy against mosquitoes

How is holy basil consumed?

Holy basil is available in tea leaves, essential oil, extracts and supplements in the form of pills. The safe dose has not been precisely established and may vary according to presentation. It is important to check with the herbalist or check the product label.

Consult the doctor in case of doubts

It must be taken into account that the components of the plants can act with certain medications or interfere in the treatment of some diseases. Because, if you have a previous pathology, it is best to resolve all doubts with your doctor before using these supplements.