Holy basil scientifically known as Ocimum sanctum L. is a medicinally genius herb or undershrub plant having a characteristic aromatic smell. The plant from tip to root is extensively used in the ancient medical system. Some of the common medicinal properties of this plant are anticancer, antidiabetic, antifertility and antistress. Also used in the treatment of a cough and cold, fever, bronchitis, arthritis and convulsions. In this article, we are evaluating the actual benefits of this herb. Whether the facts about its capacity to cure diseases are really true or they are just in their preliminary stages of the experiments. In a fast-moving life, it is very necessary to understand what are the actual health benefits from the herbs and how can we extract these benefits from the herbs.
Along with this we also have to keep in our mind that herbs are the healthy way to live happy life not are the cure to already established diseases. If we take herbs regularly in a prescribed manner it will definitely give benefits in the long-term.
Health Benefits of Holy Basil
Leaves of holy basil contain many essential oils which help in regulating the glucose level of the body. Studies (1) shows the essential oils of holy basil helps in the improvement of the pancreatic beta cells thus increasing the secretion of insulin. Although studies done on diabetic patients show the effect is very nominal thus holy basil can be used as an adjunctive drug against diabetic (2).
2. Protects heart
The compound Eugenol present in the holy basil acts as a vasodilator. Studies done on rabbits (3) shows that the holy basil extract relaxes the blood vessels by metabolic inhibition thus releasing the tension. Therefore taking holy basil extracts helps in protection of the heart from various cardiac diseases.
3. Respiratory disorders
The heat generated from holy basil extract is very effective in the ailment of cold, cough, sinus infection, chest congestions and other respiratory related problems. Holy basil leaf extract in hot water with clove and ginger helps in immediate relief against a runny nose.
4. Improve immunity
Holy basil leaves chewed daily morning helps in boosting the immunity of the body. Helps in keeping the body healthy and fit. Herbal tea of holy basil is also very effective as an immune booster.
5. Memory enhancer
Holy basil extract in the form of tea also helps in relaxing the mind and enhances the memory power. Basil has taken in the form of water extract or simply chewing the leaves thus strengthens our memory system.
6. Healthy Kidney
Juice of holy basil leaves with honey helps in cleaning of the kidney stone when taken regularly for six months. Along with this leaves and seeds of basil have diuretic property. In an experiment done on albino rats, it was found that the leaves and seeds extracts of basil reduces blood and uric acid level (1).
7. Strong digestion and healthy liver
The aqueous extract of holy basil helps in improving the hepatic and gastric disorders. Drinking juice of holy basil leaf helps in curing stomach related problems like ulcers, indigestion, and dysentery. The juice of holy basil also checks vomiting thus acts as an anthelmintic (1). Basil also acts as a mild laxative.
8. Stress Buster
The leaves of holy basil have antistress property and also helps in protection against many psychological disorders. It has been advised that chewing 12 leaves twice a day helps in reduction of stress (1).
9. Healthy skin
Basil extract helps in the inhibition of many fungal diseases like ringworm when applied externally. Chewing leaves of basil also help in stopping of leucoderma.
10. Radioprotective property
Basil leaves have a radio property better than that of synthetic drugs. Studies suggest that the basil leaves have high bone marrow protection property than that of a synthetic radioprotective drug (4).
11. Healthy teeth
Basil leaves are widely used for the treatment of oral diseases. The basil leaves contain eugenol which acts as a mild analgesic thereof are used to relax a toothache. Other compounds like terpenes are present in the leaf of holy basil which is antibacterial in nature therefore by simply chewing the leaves helps in maintaining oral hygiene. Not only this, but the eugenol present in the leaf also helps in the treatment of oral candidiasis (1).
Holy basil leaves contain many secondary metabolites or simply compounds that are antifungal in their nature. The leaf extract of holy basil is, therefore, are effective against many Aspergillus species which are the prime causes of many respiratory and lung-related diseases like tuberculosis.
The holy basil seeds have essential oil like linoleic acid which acts as an anticoagulant. Therefore the seeds of basil have the ability of blood thinning and delay the blood coagulation. Therefore have a potential medicinal application (4).
The plant of holy basil can drive away mosquitoes, therefore, are having an antimalarial effect. A thin paste or juice of holy basil leaf acts as a natural mosquito repellent. Therefore the paste of Holy basil will act both as a mosquito repellent and also beautify the skin.
Side effects of Holy basil
Leaves of holy basil have an abortifacient effect because of ursolic acid in them. Therefore pregnant women should avoid eating the leaves or any kind of extracts of the plant (1).
2. Blood thinner
The plant has anticoagulant activity, therefore, should be avoided before surgery.
3. Generate heat
Holy basil leaves generate body heat, therefore, should not be taken in excess.