Holy Basil, Batman! 7 Potential Health Benefits

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  • Not Your Average Basil

    Not Your Average Basil

    Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) isn’t your average basil. It’s different from the sweet basil you use to make mama’s marinara sauce or the Thai basil you throw into a steaming bowl of pho, although holy basil is used in some Thai dishes.

    Holy basil is called such because it is considered sacred in Hindu culture, and it’s used in the worship of Vishnu and other deities.

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  • A Divine Herb

    A Divine Herb

    Holy basil is native to India and Southeast Asia, and has been used medicinally for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. Typically grown in large amounts in the courtyards of many Hindu forts, it was believed that the herb could cleanse the body.

    While there’s an array of anecdotal evidence to tout the healing properties of the plant, like other medicinal supplements, clinical evidence to support claims remains scarce. 

  • Available Science on Holy Basil

    Available Science on Holy Basil

    In 2010, a review of findings published in Pharmacognosy Review confirmed that holy basil did have therapeutic value and further investigation of holy basil’s “health promoting qualities is sure to bear rich fruit.”

    But the downside is that the majority of proof relies on testing done only on animal cells in a petri dish.

    Read on to learn about seven potential health benefits for holy basil.

  • A Natural Defender

    A Natural Defender

    Can help wounds heal faster: Holy basil not only has a supernatural mythos, it also holds a superhuman secret. Extracts made from its leaves are thought to boost wound healing speed and strength. 

    Natural antibiotic: Bacterial infections can complicate even the smallest of wounds. Staph infections are a growing problem across the globe, but holy basil appears to naturally exorcise those demons, according to some research.

  • Wards Off Chronic Diseases

    Wards Off Chronic Diseases

    May prevent diabetes: People with type 2 diabetes manage their condition by tracking and making changes to their diet. Preliminary research suggests that adding holy basil can help control blood sugar levels. Just be careful if you have diabetes — it's been shown to lower blood sugar, and could potentially affect sugar levels in people already on medication.

    Cuts through cholesterol: Animal research suggests that fresh holy basil can significantly lower harmful cholesterol in the blood. Other research indicates that holy basil extracts may help guard the heart against chronic stress. 

  • A Protector Plant

    A Protector Plant

    Protects your stomach: Stress can do a number on your stomach. It can contribute to acid reflux and ulcers. But holy basil has anti-ulcer properties. Not only does it reduce stomach acid, it increases the production of protective mucus.

    Protects your joints: Chronic inflammation affects millions of Americans, but holy basil contains several compounds that can help ease inflammation just as well as aspirin. 

  • Gives You New Spirit

    Gives You New Spirit

    Gives your brain a boost: Extracts made from the root of holy basil have been shown to have mentally stimulating and de-stressing capabilities. While that sounds like the perfect cocktail after work, more research is needed before you’ll be able to get it at Starbucks.

    Other research suggests it may have other natural barriers against other mental problems besides sluggishness, such as anticonvulsant and anti-dementia, but the medical jury is still out on those claims. 

  • Things to Be Aware of

    Things to Be Aware of

    While holy basil may sound like a miracle cure for many common problems, make sure you speak with your doctor before incorporating it or any other supplement into your diet. Holy basil is not recommended in pregnancy as it may stimulate uterine contractions.

    The proof for the plant’s benefits is lacking, and so are its side effects. It may have anti-fertility effects in men and women and be potentially dangerous for people with bleeding disorders. Holy basil may be too good to be true.