Renowned for its important role in the traditional Ayurvedic and Unani systems of herbal medicine, holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is called the ‘queen of herbs’ due to its multiple health benefits. Being an adaptogen, it helps in balancing the different processes in the body and increase its resistance to disease and stress.
Also known as tulsi, the leaves of holy basil contain the essential oil eugenol and other volatile compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.[1,2,3,45,6]
Preliminary trials with holy basil suggest that the herb may help control blood sugar levels of people with type 2 diabetes. Another study found that taking 1,000mg of the herb daily lowered blood sugar, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides levels.[7,8,9,10]
Holy Basil For Better Immunity
Traditionally considered as a sacred herb, the consumption of tulsi leaf on an empty stomach is believed to increase immunity. Clinical studies done on 24 subjects showed that it can effectively modulate immunity.
The study found that tulsi induced the proliferation of T cytokines and T lymphocytes (immune cells). Natural killer cells (NK), a type of lymphocyte (white blood cell), also increased following ingestion of tulsi leaves.
How To Take It
- Holy basil leaves can be added to stir-fry dishes and soups.
- You can also brew a cup of holy basil tea by adding four to five leaves in boiling water. Have it twice daily to improve your immunity The tea is also available online, with a fusion of flavors such as lemon, cinnamon, sweet rose, and ginger.
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1. Warrier PK. In: Indian Medicinal Plants. Longman O, editor. New Delhi: CBS publication; 1995. p. 168.
2. Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Chakrabarti A. Adaptogenic activity of Siotone, a polyherbal formulation of Ayurvedic rasayanas. Indian J Exp Biol 2000;38:119-28.
3. Wagner H, Norr H, Winterhoff H. Drugs with adaptogenic effects for strengthening the powers of resistance. Z Phytotherapie 1992;13:42-54.
4. Singh N, Hoette Y. Tulsi: the mother medicine of nature. Lucknow, India: International Institute of Herbal Medicine, 2002.
5. Jaggi RK, Madaan R, Singh B. Anticonvulsant potential of holy basil, Ocimum sanctum Linn. and its cultures. Indian J Exp Biol 2003;41:1329-33.
6. Kelm MA, Nair MG, Strasburg GM, DeWitt DL. Antioxidant and cyclooxygenase inhibitory phenolic compounds from Ocimum sanctum Linn. Phytomedicine 2000;7:7-13.
7. Viseshakul D, Premvatana P, Chularojmontri V, et al. Improved glucose tolerance induced by long term dietary supplementation with hairy basal seeds (Ocimum canum Sim) in diabetics. J Med Assoc Thailand 1985;68:408-11.
8. Agrawal P, Rai V, Singh RB. Randomized placebo-controlled, single blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 1996;34:406-9.
9. Rai V, Mani UV, Iyer UM. Effect of Ocimum sanctum leaf powder on blood lipoproteins glycated protein and total amino acids in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J Nutr Environ Med 1997;7:113-8.
10. Rai V, Mani UV. Effect of ocimum sanctum leaf powder on blood lipoproteins. J Nutr Environ Med 1997;7:113-18.
11. Mondal S, Varma S, Bamola VD, Naik SN, Mirdha BR, Padhi MM, Mehta N, Mahapatra SC. Double-blinded randomized controlled trial for immunomodulatory effects of Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) leaf extract on healthy volunteers. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jul 14;136(3):452-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.05.012. Epub 2011 May 17. PubMed PMID: 21619917.