Holy basil, commonly known as Tulsi, is a powerful herb that has been utilized in Ayurveda and various other traditional medical treatments in India for thousands of years. It is not only worshipped in India but is also believed to have potent powers to flush out toxins from our body. Till date in India, people consume basil water (water which has tulsi leaves soaked overnight) or chew on few basil leaves to improve their overall health. Several health products are available all over the world, with basil extracts to help you treat cold, cough, and some kinds of flu.
How does it actually work?
Chemicals in holy basil are considered to decrease inflammation and pain. Other chemicals present in it, might lower the blood sugar in people having Type I and Type II Diabetes.
Researchers have been interested in using holy basil seed oil for treating cancer. Several early research studies suggest that the holy basil oil can slow the progression of cancer and evidently improve survival rate in animals with certain types of cancer. Researchers think this benefit can be explained by the oil’s ability to act as a remarkable antioxidant.
Nutritional Value of Fresh Basil-
|Total lipid (fat) [g]||0.64|
|Carbohydrate, by difference [g]||2.65|
|Calcium, Ca [mg]||177|
|Sugars, total [g]||0.3|
|Fibre, total dietary [g]||1.6|
|Iron, Fe [mg]||3.17|
|Potassium, K [mg]||295|
|Phosphorus, P [mg]||56|
|Magnesium, Mg [mg]||64|
|Sodium, Na [mg]||4|
Uses of Holy Basil (Tulsi)-
- Dental Plaque
- Influenza (Flu)
- Common Cold
- Viral hepatitis.
- Mercury poisoning.
- Stomach upset.
- An antidote to snake and scorpion bites.
- Heart disease.
- Other conditions.
Health Benefits of Holy Basil-
1. Reduces stress and anxiety-
As a matter of fact, all parts of the basil plant act as an adaptogen. An adaptogen is basically a natural substance that helps your body adapt to stress and promotes a person’s mental balance. The concept of an adaptogen is a very holistic approach. But scientific researches show that holy basil has various pharmacological properties to help your mind cope up with many types of stress. The basil even has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties which are comparable to diazepam and some other antidepressant drugs.
Ayurvedic practitioners often recommend drinking holy basil incorporated into a tea using the leaves. And since it’s caffeine-free, it’s recommended for daily consumption. The regularity of consuming this tea can be as calming as yoga. It fosters relaxation, clear thoughts and a great sense of well-being.
But if the basil’s bitter and spicy flavour isn’t your choice, a supplement in the pill form is available as well. But, there is definitely less risk of contamination when taking any herb in natural form.
2. Prevents infection and treats wounds
Holy basil happens to be antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and a painkiller. Some people even tend to use holy basil after surgeries to heal and protect their wounds. It stimulates your wound’s breaking strength, healing time, and the contraction.
3. Lowers blood sugar-
If you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, then all parts of the holy basil plant can help you to reduce your blood sugar. Animal and human trials over the years have shown that holy basil has the ability to help its consumers, prevent symptoms of diabetes such as weight gain, excess insulin in the blood, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and hypertension.
NOTE: Remember to talk to your doctor before adding holy basil to your regular diet. If you have already been taking medications to control the blood sugar, it might lower your blood sugar levels even more.
4. Lowers cholesterol
Since holy basil targets our metabolic stress, it could also help with weight loss and your cholesterol levels. It probably reduces the bad cholesterol in your kidney, heart and liver and tends to increase the good cholesterol in your body.
5. Eases Inflammation and cures Joint pain
The holy basil promises to keep you at your toes by tackling physical stress, anxiety, and various kinds of inflammation with a relaxing cup of tea. As an adaptogen with amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, the holy basil provides all of these benefits. It probably helps people with fibromyalgia and arthritis too, by curing joint pain.
6. Protects your stomach
Holy basil also has the potential to counteract the effects of stress-induced ulcers. It even naturally increases your stomach’s defence by decreasing the stomach acid, increasing mucus secretion, increasing mucus cells and extending the life of mucous cells
Evidently, many drugs for peptic ulcers tend to have side effects and can even cause discomfort in some people. Thus holy basil can prove to be preferred alternative.
7. Cures Fever
The therapeutic healing properties of holy basil come primarily from its essential oils and thein it. Holy basil has proven to be excellent antibiotic, fungicidal, germicidal and agent. It very effectively protects our body from all kinds of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
Fever is mainly caused due to infections from protozoa causing malaria, bacteria causing typhoid, viruses causing flu, fungus, and other allergic reactions. The tremendous germicidal, disinfectant and fungicidal properties of holy basil destroy all the above mentioned pathogens and heal the resulting fever.
8. Mouth Freshener
Basil is an excellent mouth freshener and an oral disinfectant as its freshness lasts for a very long time. Holy basil claims to destroy more than 99% of germs and bacteria in the mouth and trust me when I say this being an Indian, that this effect can last all day. It also cures mouth ulcers.
9. Chemo-preventive Properties
Furthermore, it inhibits the growth of various cancers including the deadly oral cancer due to the presence of variouslike eugenol and some specific others. Thus, this plant has the potential to prevent chemo-therapies a cancer patient has to undergo.
10. Dental Care
Holy basil tends to destroy the bacteria that are responsible for plaque, dental cavities, tartar, and bad breath, while also protecting our teeth. It also possesses astringent properties which make the gums strong enough to hold our teeth tighter, thereby keeping them from falling.
NOTE: Tulsi contains certain compounds like mercury, which has rich germicidal properties that might be harmful to your teeth if kept in direct contact for too long. Therefore, it is advised to avoid chewing these leaves. It is actually discussed in specific holy books and Ayurvedic teachings that chewing basil leaves robs them of their holiness. However, it has no harm if you do not chew it or consume its decoction.
11. Prevents Kidney Stones
Holy basil, being a mild diuretic and a detoxifier, helps to reduce the uric acid level in your body, which is the main culprit as far as those fatal kidney stones are concerned. It also helps clean out the kidneys through an increased frequency of urination. Acetic acid and certain components in the Tulsi essential oil happen to facilitate dissolution of the stones. Finally, the magical potion made of holy basil has pain-killer effects and helps you bear the pain from kidney stones as they pass.
12. Skin Care
You should try taking a bath with a decoction of holy basil leaves mixed with your bath water. You might also wash your face with it, or simply apply the paste of its leaves on the infected area of your skin in case of skin diseases. Well, you can just consume tulsi leaves and still manage to keep your skin free from all infections. Rubbing some holy basil leaves or its extracted oil on your body would keep mosquitoes and other insects away.
13. Relieves Headache
Any kind of headache caused due to sinus pressure, migraine, cough, and cold or high blood pressure can be efficiently controlled by the consumption of a single tulsi serving. Camphene, cineol, eugenol, carvacrol, and methyl-chavicol, in the holy basil, have excellent analgesic, anti-congestive, sedative and disinfectant properties.
14. Prevents Premature Aging
Vitamin A and C, phytonutrients, and the essential oils in the marvellous holy basil are excellent antioxidants and even protect the consumer’s body from nearly all the damages that are caused by free radicals in the body, which are fatal byproducts of cellular metabolism that are probably responsible for a wide swath of diseases, including cancer.
15. Eye Care
Wash your eyes daily with a few leaves of the holy basil soaked in water and you would be free from boils, conjunctivitis, and many other problems of the eyes which are caused due to viral, bacterial, or fungal infections. It also soothes eye inflammation and reduces our stress. Regular consumption can definitely protect your eyes from the damage done by the free radicals, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, vision defects, and ophthalmia, due to the excessive antioxidant content of its essential oils, vitamin C and vitamin A.
Side Effects of Consuming Holy Basil-
Holy basil can also prove to be dangerous when used by mouth in the long term. Thus, it’s important that you take an informed decision. So, let’s get you acquainted with the side effects of holy basil.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy: Holy basil can be POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken during pregnancy or if you are trying to become pregnant. It seems to decrease the number of full-term pregnancies. Stay on the safe side and try to avoid using.
Breastfeeding: As not enough is known about the use of holy basil during breastfeeding, thus please stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: Holy basil can lower blood sugar levels. This might interfere with controlling your blood sugar levels. People with Type II diabetes may need to adjust dosing for insulin or anti-diabetes drugs.
Hypothyroidism: People with hypothyroidism tend to have low levels of the thyroid hormone called thyroxine. Holy basil might happen to lower thyroxine levels. In theory, holy basil can worsen hypothyroidism.
Surgery: Holy basil can slow blood clotting, so there is a definite concern that it could increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. so, stop using holy basil at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
The Recommended dosage of Holy Basil-
The appropriate dose for the consumption of holy basil depends on several factors such as the user’s health, age and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for holy basil. Keep in mind that the natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages are important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on the product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or any other healthcare professional before using.