Who knew that a small shrub with aromatic leaves—holy basil—could have so many health-supporting qualities? Holy basil, also known as tulsi, is known in Ayurvedic medicine as an adaptogen, an herb which supports bodily system balance and supports the body’s resilience, even during times of stress.
For example, when a person is stressed, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode, raising levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and adrenaline as well as blood pressure and other stress responses. The body can fare pretty well for short periods of time in these conditions, but can take a hit with unrelenting stress.
Holy basil has been shown to support healthy stress, cortisol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.† In fact, a study in the Journal of Natural Products recognized an additional three new active compounds in holy basil to add to the known eight existing ones. Among those compounds, some were found to support healthy blood sugar and cortisol levels, to conserve energy production and decrease adrenal size, noting holy basil’s anti-stress capabilities on several levels.† Also, the Hypoglycemia Association of Australia says that holy basil acts as a hypoglycemic, meaning that it can lower blood sugar by balancing insulin metabolism.†
A Journal of Natural Remedies study looked at holy basil’s effects on metabolic syndrome, of which high blood pressure is a general attribute. Study participants who took five milliliters of holy basil extract daily for three months dropped their systolic blood pressure an average of 13 points and their diastolic an average of eight points. Likewise, according to the Organic Facts website, holy basil supports cardiovascular health, which may include blood pressure regulation, heart attack prevention and reduced risk of stroke.† Additionally, a study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology indicated that holy basil, when compared to Siberian ginseng and Asian ginseng, was the safest and most effective way of reducing stress.†
Then there’s holy basil’s detoxifying benefits. The Journal of Medicinal Foods published a study indicating that holy basil has significant detoxifying capacity. In test animals, holy basil protected the subjects from toxin damage—including damage to the liver, oxidation of lipids and proteins as well as enhancing the activity of liver-detoxifying enzymes.†
And inflammation and pain? Holy basil can also support healthy levels of inflammation, while giving pain relief. A study in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology notes the high quantities of omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in holy basil to inhibit unhealthy inflammation levels.†
Holy basil also acts as a COX-2 inhibitor, similar to many modern anti-inflammatory painkillers†, according to an article in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. An added perk is that it does so without the unwanted side effects.
What’s more is that holy basil is a good source of iron, calcium, vitamins A and C as well as zinc.
So, holy cow! Pretty impressive benefits from holy basil, huh?
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.