Last update: June 11, 2024

7 minute read

What is Holy Basil?

Explore the rich benefits of holy basil, your new super herb for health and wellness. Dive into its uses, nutritional profile, and more.

Stephanie Wright

By Stephanie Wright, RN, BSN

Edited by Dr. Jacquie Leone, NMD, HN

Learn more about our editorial standards

Ever thought about the magic of herbs? Are you familiar with Holy Basil, or is it a new name popping up on your wellness radar? Well, let me spill the tea on Holy Basil, a green leafy marvel native to Southeast Asia. Holy Basil, also known as Ocimum sanctum L. or tulsi, holds a special place in traditional medicine and offers a wellness punch that can support your health journey.

Key takeaways

  • Holy Basil is an adaptogenic herb with many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
  • It potentially provides support in managing diseases like arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • Some of the anti-inflammatory compounds present in Holy Basil are eugenol, ursolic acid, and rosmarinic acid

    What is Holy Basil?

    What is Holy Basil? Holy Basil, scientifically known as Ocimum tenuiflorum, is a plant native to Southeast Asia. Revered in Ayurvedic medicine, this multifaceted herb is used to provide support for many different conditions from eye diseases to ringworm.

    Why is it known as the "Queen of Herbs"?

    You might wonder why Holy Basil gets the royal treatment in the wellness world. This green queen is a powerhouse adaptogen. Let's unpack this a bit.

    An adaptogen superstar

    An adaptogen is basically your body's BFF when it comes to dealing with stress, whether it's physical, emotional, or even chemical. Holy Basil is an adaptogen all-star, helping your body and mind adapt to stress and promoting mental balance.

    Studies have shown that Holy Basil can improve endurance, reduce tissue damage, and lower stress levels even in loud environments. For people looking to dial down stress, holy basil is highly effective.

    A natural mood booster

    Are you depressed, stressed, or anxious? Maybe all of the above? Well, you're not alone, and Holy Basil might just be just what you need. Studies have found that 500 mg of Holy Basil extract twice a day resulted in less anxiety, stress, and even depression.

    How can Holy Basil stimulate and vitalize your body?

    We've established that Holy Basil is effective for mental health, but what about physical health? It helps with physical health too!

    A detoxifying antioxidant

    In today's world, where your body is constantly bombarded by toxins and pollutants, Holy Basil is a great tool chock-full of antioxidants. These antioxidants work tirelessly to protect your body against free radical damage caused by toxic chemicals.

    Boosting wound healing

    From blemishes to post-surgery wounds, Holy Basil has got you covered. Extracts made from its leaves can boost wound healing speed and efficiency.

    It's antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and a painkiller. Some people even use holy basil after surgery to heal and protect their wounds.

    VitaRx Tip

    Whether you're dealing with acne or a raised scar, Holy Basil might just be your skin's new best friend.

    Can Holy Basil help lower your blood sugar?

    Warding off the modern-day epidemics of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes can be pretty tough. But guess what? Holy Basil has got your back yet again!

    A natural sugar regulator

    Holy Basil is no stranger to the diabetes battlefield. Research has shown that this power-packed plant can help reduce blood sugar, making it a vital addition to your wellness routine.

    It's like having your own botanical bodyguard, keeping your blood sugar balanced. This isn't just theory; the results speak for themselves.

    A randomized controlled trial found that type 2 diabetics taking 2,500 mg of holy basil per day lowered their blood glucose between 7-18%. Those are very promising results.

    Interactions with medications

    Keep in mind, while Holy Basil is a herb, it’s powerful. If you're already on medications to control your blood sugar, you should definitely talk to your doctor before adding Holy Basil to your diet or supplement regimen.

    Dos and don'ts of taking Holy Basil


    • icon

      Do include Holy Basil in your diet for its potential blood sugar-lowering benefits.

    • icon

      Do conduct your own research and stay informed about the benefits and potential risks of Holy Basil.


    • icon

      Don't start taking Holy Basil without consulting your doctor if you're already on blood sugar medication.

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      Don't assume that natural means it's always safe to mix with all medications.

    Can Holy Basil lower your cholesterol?

    You thought Holy Basil was done impressing you? Think again!

    It’s ready for another round, and this time it's targeting cholesterol and improving blood pressure. Holy Basil doesn't shy away from challenges.

    It targets metabolic stress, which can not only help with weight loss but also manage your cholesterol levels. In human studies, Holy Basil was found to help normalize lipid profiles (as well as blood sugar levels and blood pressure). The same study also found Holy Basil to be very effective in managing psychological and immunological stress.

    Can Holy Basil help ease inflammation and joint pain?

    Holy Basil contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that make it an all-star when it comes to tackling inflammation and joint pain. Imagine sipping a cup of warm Holy Basil tea and feeling those aches melt away. And it doesn't stop there. Holy Basil has shown potential benefits for people suffering from arthritis or fibromyalgia.

    Anti-inflammatory compounds in Holy Basil

    You know that Holy Basil can fight inflammation, but have you ever wondered what makes it so effective? Let's take a look at the following data, which shows the primary compounds in Holy Basil that give it its anti-inflammatory properties:

    • Eugenol: Inhibits inflammation by blocking COX-2 enzyme
    • Ursolic Acid: Reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines
    • Rosmarinic Acid: Suppresses inflammatory responses via inhibition of leukocytes

    Caption: Major anti-inflammatory compounds in Holy Basil and their roles. Data sourced from 'The Anti-Inflammatory Potential of Holy Basil' published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

    Advantages and disadvantages of taking Holy Basil

    Before you begin brewing that first cup of Holy Basil tea, it's important to understand the potential advantages and disadvantages that come with it.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    Here are some additional questions you may have about Holy Basil.

    Final thoughts

    As you can see, Holy Basil is a powerful, multifaceted, plant that works by supporting many of your body’s systems. Holy Basil may be the 'Queen of Herbs,' but don't let it 'leaf' you in the dark about its potential interactions and precautions. Always consult with your healthcare provider before embarking on a new wellness journey.

    Sources and references


    Stephanie Wright avatar

    Stephanie brings over 13 years of diverse nursing experience to the table, having honed her expertise in critical care, mental health, and utilization management. Her journey as a registered nurse across these various healthcare sectors underscores her adaptability and deep commitment to patient care.

    Fact checker

     Dr. Jacquie Leone avatar

    Dr. Leone holds a BA in Psychology, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, and board certification in holistic nutrition. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Leone has developed and currently teaches science and nutrition courses for a nationally accredited institution. She specializes in chronic illness, gastrointestinal dysregulation, inflammatory conditions, and mental health. Her unique approach combines the wisdom of Eastern medicine with the technology and science of Western medicine, offering an integrative approach heavily focused on functional medicine.

    At VitaRx, we're not just passionate about our work — we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.

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