1. Fights Skin Infections and Acne
Holy basil has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and analgesic (painkilling) properties. It can help kill bacteria that can cause breakouts and skin infections, so it’s a great natural remedy for wounds, plus a home remedy for acne and other skin irritations. It’s believed to benefit the skin and treat skin infections both internally and externally.
The primary active compound of holy basil oil is eugenol, also the active ingredient in the powerful antimicrobial clove oil, which is widely believed to help combat many skin disorders. Holy basil also contains other therapeutic components, including gamma-caryophyllene and methyl eugenol.
Research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science shows that when used with coconut oil as a carrier, holy basil absorbs into the skin even better and could be even more effective against acne.
2. Protects Against Diabetes
Holy basil benefits appear to include the ability to control blood glucose levels as demonstrated by several test tube and animal experiments, as well as human clinical trials.
A randomized placebo-controlled, single blind trial of holy basil leaves points toward holy basil’s anti-diabetic activity. In this trial, patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes experienced decreases in fasting blood sugar levels, postprandial (after a meal) blood sugar levels, urine blood sugar levels as well as mean total cholesterol levels during the holy basil treatment period. Overall, the researchers conclude holy basil may be prescribed as part of a treatment plan for people with mild-to-moderate non-insulin dependent diabetes.
3. Helps Fight Cancer
In general, holy basil may not only possibly work as a natural cancer treatment, but another of the many holy basil benefits include that it may also help to prevent it. Research shows that people who regularly consume tulsi are less likely to be immunocompromised and less susceptible to developing cancer cells.
According to research published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, tulsi and its phytochemicals (including eugenol, rosmarinic acid, apigenin, myretenal, luteolin, β-sitosterol and carnosic acid), in some cases, may help prevent chemical-induced lung, liver, oral and skin cancers because they increase antioxidant activity, alter healthy gene expressions, induce cancer cell death, prevent blood vessel growth contributing to cancer cell growth and stop metastasis — which is the spread of cancer from one organ to another.
Holy basil benefits also appear to help protect the body from radiation poisoning and help minimize damage from radiation treatment, according to research published in 2016 in the the Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics. It selectively protects the normal tissues against the destructive effects of radiation.
In fact, the journal Nutrition and Cancer published an interesting review outlining the important research involving tulsi’s ability to help fight against cancer that we’ve seen in the past several years. The doctors involved in this research agree that conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments used during the past three decades haven’t been able to contain the disease, plus they have serious side effects. Many natural agents — especially holy basil leaves and extracts from other plants — prove to be non-toxic, easily available and have potential anti-cancer properties.
4. Balances Stress Hormones
There’s evidence that tulsi can address physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress through a unique combination of pharmacological actions. One of the most well-researched holy basil benefits is its ability to keep hormone levels balanced naturally and to lower symptoms of anxiety.
According to a scientific article published in 2014 in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, “Tulsi has also been shown to counter metabolic stress through normalization of blood glucose, blood pressure and lipid levels, and psychological stress through positive effects on memory and cognitive function and through its anxiolytic and antidepressant properties.”
Some other evidence of this stress-lowering effect includes the ability of holy basil to improve reaction times and error rates in human subjects compared to placebo. There also seems to be a positive effect of holy basil on cortisol levels.
Holy basil includes three phytochemical compounds that help achieve these results. The first two, ocimumosides A and B, have been identified as anti-stress compounds and may lower blood corticosterone (another stress hormone) and create positive alterations in the neurotransmitter system of the brain. According to an article published in Alternative and Complementary Therapies, the third, 4-allyl-1-O-beta-D-glucopyronosyl-2-hydroxybenzene, is also able to lower stress parameters in lab studies.
To use holy basil for anxiety, research suggests taking holy basil leaf extract twice daily after meals can help with managing symptoms. You can also try drinking tulsi tea, or adding tulsi to your meals.
Does holy basil increase testosterone? While some speculate that it can boost testosterone production, perhaps by possibly reducing stress and supporting thyroid/adrenal function, there isn’t much evidence proving it has this effect. Some preliminary research in animals actually shows the compound called ursolic acid found in holy basil may reduce fertility by damaging sperm. This has led some researchers to believe that holy basil may be used as an effective male contraceptive agent.
5. Relieves Fever
Holy basil is often recommended as a natural fever reliever, especially by practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine. Holy basil leaves are thought to act as antibiotic, germicidal and disinfectant agents, which means they can protect us from bacteria and viruses. When we have a fever, it’s proof that our bodies are fighting against an infection. Therefore, with its infection-fighting properties, tulsi may help to fight a fever.
6. Helps Improve Respiratory Disorders
Holy basil benefits are found in the components of tulsi leaves, including camphene, eugenol and cineole, which help provide relief from congestion and other symptoms of respiratory disorders. Scientific studies have confirmed that holy basil possesses impressive anti-asthmatic abilities and may make breathing easier, which is why it’s a commonly recommended herb for respiratory issues in Ayurvedic medicine.
7. Good Source of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in bone health and heart health. It’s one of the main vitamins involved in bone mineralization and blood clotting, but it also helps maintain brain function, a healthy metabolism and cellular health. One cup of tulsi leaves has more than your daily recommended value of vitamin K, making it a perfect source to prevent vitamin K deficiency. Plus, vitamin K can be beneficial to your bone density, digestive health and brain function.
Animal studies published in the Alternative Medicine Review also demonstrate that holy basil benefits include cardio-protective properties. In other words, it appears to boost heart health.
8. May Relieve Headaches
Practitioners of Ayurveda recommend holy basil as a natural headache remedy that can help relieve migraine pain. Research suggests this is due to its ability to relieve inflammation, sinus pressure and muscular tension due to stress. Try diffusing holy basil essential oil or making tulsi tea to reduce headache symptoms.