What is Holy Basil Good For? Does it Help You Sleep?

Scientifically known as Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum, holy basil or tulsi plays an important part in Ayurvedic medicine that originated in India. It is generally considered an adaptogen because it’s an herb that can regulate and support the body’s response to physical, chemical, psychological, and metabolic stress [R].

Holy basil goes by many nicknames, such as the “Queen of Herbs” and “The Incomparable One.” In Hinduism, it is highly regarded as a sacred plant and a manifestation of the goddess, Vrinda or Tulsi [R].

This herb provides great relief for stress, anxiety, type 2 diabetes, and cancer of the skin, lungs, breast, liver, stomach, and mouth.

Holy basil also has calming and relaxation properties; however, holy basil alone cannot induce sleep. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 158 subjects between the ages 18 and 65, a holy basil extract called OciBest was found to provide 39 percent more stress relief than the placebo after a 6-week treatment [R].

One study involving 35 individuals with GAD or generalized anxiety disorder found that taking 500 mg holy basil with meals twice a day lowered anxiety and depression after a 2-month treatment [R].

A double-blind, randomized, controlled trial was also done on patients with type 2 diabetes. It was found that holy basil reduce post-meal blood sugar levels (7.3%) and fasting blood sugar levels (17.6%) [R].

A review study conducted on holy basil’s anti-cancer properties also found it to be a viable treatment for skin cancer, breast cancer, and lung cancer, and a preventive measure for liver cancer, oral cancer, and stomach cancer [R].

In India, a study involving 41 subjects between the ages 17 and 56, wherein a combination treatment of holy basil and turmeric was administered, found it to be strongly potent against oral submucous fibrosis, a disease that can lead to oral cancer if left untreated [R].

Preliminary studies also show that holy basil is an effective treatment for gonorrhea. In fact, its extract was found to be just as effective as ciprofloxacin and penicillin against the causative bacteria of gonorrhea called Neisseria gonorrhoeae [R].

According to various scientific resources, a twice-daily dose of 500 mg holy basil leaf extract is recommended to fully take advantage of its adaptogenic and neurological effects. In rat studies, the highest dose that did not show any signs of toxicity was 1,000 mg of alcohol or water extract daily per kg body weight over the course of 28 days [R].

It is worth noting, however, that its essential oil containing 70% eugenol was found to be quite toxic at a dose of 42.5 ml per kg body weight [R] [R].

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