Tulsi nature’s anxiety reliever, also known as holy basil is very well known for its powerful therapeutic properties. It has a rich history dating back, 3,000 years ago to ancient Indian uses.
Tulsi leaves are now regarded as adaptogens (anti-stress agents) and have been used widely to promote health throughout the entire body.
It is commonly consumed as a tea or supplement and used as a natural remedy for anxiety, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, unbalanced blood sugar and as a home remedy for acne.
In modern medicine, in the last few decades, several Indian scientists and researchers have studied the pharmacological effects of various parts of the tulsi plant on the immune system, reproductive system, central nervous system, cardiovascular system, gastric system, urinary system and blood biochemistry.
Researchers described the therapeutic significance of tulsi in the management and relief of various ailments, and they established a scientific basis for the therapeutic uses of tulsi. It helps protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint and exposure to cold and excessive noise. (1)
Ten Tulsi (Holy Basil) Benefits Benefits
1. Fights Acne
Tulsi helps kill bacteria and infections, and is believed to benefit the skin and help to treat skin infections both internally and externally. The primary active compound of tulsi oil is eugenol, also the active ingredient in the powerful antimicrobial clove oil, which is widely believed to help combat many skin disorders. Tulsi also contains other therapeutic components, including gamma-caryophyllene and methyl eugenol. Research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science shows that holy basil may be a natural acne treatment. (3)
2. Protects Against Diabetes
Tulsi 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 towards 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 that holy basil may be prescribed as part of a treatment plan for people with mild-to-moderate non-insulin dependent diabetes. (4)
3. Helps Fight Cancer
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. (5)
Tulsi benefits also appear to help protect the body from radiation poisoning and help treat 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. (6)
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 tulsi leaves and extracts from other plants — prove to be nontoxic, easily available and have proven anticancer properties. (7)
4. Balances Hormones and Lowers Stress and Anxiety
Tulsi has a positive physical effect on the body and mental benefits as well. By drinking tulsi tea, or adding tulsi to your meals, you help calm your system and keep your body running smoothly.
According to a scientific article published in 2014 in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, there is increasing evidence that shows holy basil benefits can improve physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress. More specifically: (1)
Tulsi has been found to protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals, and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint and exposure to cold and excessive noise. 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 anti-depressant properties.
Some other evidence of this stress-lowering effect includes the ability of tulsi to improve reaction times and error rates in human subjects compared to placebo. (8)
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. (9) The third, 4-allyl-1-O-beta-D-glucopyronosyl-2-hydroxybenzene is also able to lower stress parameters in lab studies. (10, 11)
5. Relieves Fever
Holy basil is often recommended as a natural fever treatment, 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. (9) 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 and restore your health quickly.
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 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. (10)
8. Dental Care and Oral Health
Tulsi has the power to fight bacteria in your mouth that lead to dental issues, such as cavities, , plaque, tartar and bad breath. Tulsi leaves serve as a mouth freshener because they kill the bacteria and germs hiding in your mouth. (11)
Holy basil benefits include helping to diminish ulcers in the mouth, and in vitro studies demonstrate it can stop the growth of oral cancer cells. (12) For natural dental care, try adding a drop of tulsi essential oil to your toothpaste or drinking one cup of tulsi tea every day.
9. Relieves Headaches
Practitioners of Ayurveda recommend holy basil as a natural headache remedy that can help relieve migraine pain. (13) Some believe this is due to its ability to relieve sinus pressure, and recommend diffusing holy basil essential oil or making tulsi tea to reduce headache symptoms.
10. Supports Eye Health
Our eyes are susceptible to viral, bacterial and fungal infections that can be very dangerous. Thankfully, holy basil benefits include helping to fight these detrimental infections. Tulsi is prescribed in Ayurveda to fight against conjunctivitis — also commonly known as pink eye — thanks to its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. (14)
Tulsi may also help prevent a range of eye issues, including cataracts. According to Dr. S.K. Gupta of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, topical administration of an herbal eye drop mixture containing turmeric and holy basil extracts helps to counter the oxidative stress and insoluble protein formation that lead to cataracts. (15)
‘The Queen of Herbs’
In traditional systems of medicine, different parts of tulsi — the leaves, stem, flower, root, seeds and even the whole plant — have been recommended for the treatment of bronchitis, bronchial asthma, malaria, diarrhea, dysentery, skin diseases, arthritis, painful eye diseases, chronic fever, snake bites and scorpion stings. (16)
In fact, of all the herbs used within Ayurveda, tulsi is preeminent, and scientific research now confirms holy basil benefits. As mentioned earlier, there is mounting evidence that tulsi can address physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress through a unique combination of pharmacological actions.
Possible Side Effects
Researchers have found that holy basil is safe for regular consumption and topical use.
One note to keep in mind is that holy basil (tulsi) may slow blood clotting, so taking tulsi along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Some medications that slow blood clotting include include aspirin, clopidogrel, dalteparin, enoxaparin, heparin, ticlopidine and warfarin. Due to its influence on blood clotting, you should discontinue use of holy basil two weeks before any scheduled surgery. (17)
The main benefits of tulsi (holy basil) include:
1. Fights acne
2. Protects against diabetes
3. Helps fight cancer
4. Balances hormones and lowers stress
5. Relieves fever
6. Helps improve respiratory disorders
7. Good source of vitamin K
8. Dental care and oral health
9. Relieves headaches
10. Supports eye health
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !