Holy basil also known as Tulsi is native to tropical Asia, but can be found in most tropical parts of the world. It has only recently gained popularity in the United States, although it has been grown in India for more than 3000 years.
Tulsi is considered to be a key adaptogen, having the ability to increase the body's ability to resist the damaging effects of a variety of environmental threats or stressors and promote or restore normal physiological functioning of the body.
There is a vast body of research validating holy basil’s many health benefits.
Health Benefits Of Holy Basil
A number of scientific studies have focused on the effects of holy basil as it has been found to be high in antioxidants.
The antioxidant activity of holy basil is one of the major causes of its pharmacological actions.
Compounds in the herbs extracts include: eugenol, cirsilineol, isothymusin, isothymonin, rosmarinic acid, orientin, vicenin, zinc, vitamin-A, vitamin-C, vitamin-K, manganese, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
And because of these plant compounds, Holy basil acts as a disinfectant, germicidal and fungicidal as it destroys pathogens that can cause bacterial infections, viral infections, and including coughs and colds.
Tulsi has proven to relieve respiratory disorders including asthma and bronchitis, both chronic and acute. And this is due to the plants compounds, which are camphene, eugenol and cineole. As the herb relieves congestion, it facilitates smoother and easier breathing.
Holy Basil contains vitamin-C and other antioxidants such as eugenol, which protect the heart from the harmful effects of free radicals. Additionally, eugenol is very beneficial in reducing the cholesterol levels within the blood.
Holy Basil destroys more than 99% of the germs and bacteria in the mouth that are responsible for dental cavities, plaque, tartar, and bad breath. It also has astringent properties which make the gums hold the teeth tighter, preventing them from falling out.
Tulsi, being a detoxifier and a mild diuretic, helps to reduce the uric acid level in the body, which is the main culprit for kidney stone formation. Acetic acid and certain components in tulsi essential oils also facilitate dissolution of the stones. It also acts as a pain killer that can occur as the kidney stones pass out of the body through urination.
Headaches due to migraines can be effectively controlled by the use of a single tulsi serving. And this is due to the magnesium content of the herb.
Research has shown that those who suffer with migraines have low magnesium levels in the brain during a migraine attack. Studies have also shown a link between migraines and magnesium deficiency. Magnesium helps to relax and dilate blood vessels.
Vitamin-C and other antioxidants in Holy Basil helps to minimize free radical due to stress.
As Tulsi helps relieve stress, in turn your blood pressure is lowered, as the potassium content of Tulsi replaces sodium in the body and there by loosens tensed blood vessels.
Elevated cortisol can make you anxious and irritable. And high cortisol levels can led to memory loss and age related mental disorders.
Lower levels of cortisol are associated with improved mental clarity and memory, and long-term, can reduce the risk of age-related mental disorders.
Research has reported that individuals who regularly consume tulsi are less likely to be immune-compromised and less susceptible to developing cancer cells.
According to research, the plant compounds found in holy basil help prevent chemical-induced lung, liver, oral and skin cancers.
These plant compounds help increase antioxidant activity, alter healthy gene expressions, induce cancer cell death, prevent blood vessel growth contributing to cell growth and stop metastasis or the spread of cancer from one organ to another.
Other Uses For Holy Basil
Holy Basil is also used to improve energy and relieve fatigue, for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions. It helps to lower blood glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol. It protects the liver, helps with nicotine withdrawal, and elevates the mood, especially providing relief from mild depression.
Precautions and Side Effects
According to the Herbs List - A Guide To Medicinal Herbs: Holy Basil has the ability to slightly thin the blood and shouldn’t be taken by people taking blood thinning medications. It may also lower the blood sugar and shouldn’t be taken by anyone with hypoglycemia. It may decrease fertility and should never be taken by women trying to conceive. Never take if pregnant or nursing without first talking to your doctor.