Unlock the Secrets of Holy Basil: The Queen of Herbs

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Last updated on May 6th, 2023 at 06:03 am

Just Another Basil?

In the West, we all know and love the sweet taste of common Sweet Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) in our foods and it’s extensively used in Italian and other Mediterranean dishes. It sure does give a unique taste to those dishes however there are other types of Basils that are used for different purposes other than just food. One of those Basil types is Ocimum Tenuiflorum Sanctum, used for its several medicinal properties it is commonly found in the Indian sub-continent and revered by the Indians as ‘Mother Tulsi’, this Basil is so highly revered that Indians used its leaves during the last rights of their deads to help ease their journey to the next life.

What is Holy Basil (The Queen of Herbs) Plant?

Holy basil belongs to the Lamiaceae family of plants and is believed to be the origin of all other types of basil around the world. Even Holy Basil has several variants and some of them are :

  • Rama Tulsi ( Ocimum Sanctum)
  • Vana Tulsi ( Ocimum Gratissum)
  • Krishna Tulsi ( Ocimum Tenuiflorum )
  • Amrita Tulsi

Each one of these has different medicinal purposes but Rama and Krishna Tulsi is the one which has the most medicinal uses and is preferred in many ayurvedic texts.

Holy Basil (Tulsi)-

Holy Basil or as it is called in Sanskrit Tulasi/Tulsi means ‘unmatched’ or ‘incomparable’. Merely Touching the leaves of Tulasi was considered to bring good health and fortune. In the traditional Indian medicine system, Ayurveda which translates to The ‘Science of life’, Holy Basil finds its mention in several texts including ‘Charaka Samhita‘ one of the most famous texts on Ayurvedic practices which is at least 1900 years old.
Holy Basil finds its mention in several other Hindu texts including Skanda Purana,
Brahma Vaivarta Purana and Rig Veda ( some of these texts are more than 3000 years old).

Holy basil is an adaptogen that promotes homeostasis in the human body, it is considered a stress and anxiety reliever and helps with anxiety, and promotes a feeling of wellness when consumed regularly. In traditional medicine Holy basil is considered an Elixir for life and longevity it has a strong pleasant smell and licorice taste which can be similar to that of a clove however much less potent than clove in exact taste.

It tastes good when consumed as tea which is one of many ways it is used for its nutritional benefits for the common cold, fever, headaches, digestive disorders, infections, cardiovascular disease, poisoning due to various reasons, and malaria.

Chemical Composition of Holy Basil

Holy Basil has such wide medicinal applications because it is a rich source of several nutrients like Vitamin C and A, calcium, zinc, and iron, also it is a rich source of plant pigment chlorophyll which helps in fighting cancer, improves skin health, and has many other benefits. Also, it’s a good source of phytonutrients. Holy Basil enhances digestive enzymes and promotes the absorption of nutrients from food and other herbs.

Holy basil has a unique blend of nutrients that are rarely present in one source. It has a complex chemical composition and all of which are extremely helpful in maintaining homeostasis and other benefits which comes with consuming Holy basil.

The chemical composition of the Holy Basil is as follows:

  • Rosmarinic acid,
  • β-caryophyllene oxide,
  • (-)-α-cubebene,
  • Copaene.
  • Eugenol,
  • Estragole,
  • Caryophyllene,
  • Elemene,
  • Carvacrol,
  • Methyl eugenol,
  • (-)-germacrene D,
  • (-)-alpha-gurjunene,
  • Borneol,
  • Camphene.

Out of all these, the chemical compound Eugenol is its most active compound, which has antimicrobial properties, and it is claimed to help with different skin-related issues and also promotes gut health.

Benefits of Holy Basil (Ocimum Tenuiflorum Sanctum)

Promotes healthy skin

Holy Basil helps neutralize bacteria that cause skin infections and acne breakouts, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties ( lowers COX-2 expression) which help in wound healing and also works as a protective bioshield for several skin-related disorders. It can be applied to wounds to help with skin recovery.

Controls Anxiety causing hormones

Holy Basil has anxiolytic and antidepressant properties and research Published in Ayurveda Medicine Journal shows that it manages and counters metabolic stress by controlling and lowering blood sugar by stimulating the pancreas and managing and normalizing blood pressure and lipids.
Its antioxidant properties promote healthier brain and cognitive health by managing Oxidative stress.

Anticancer Properties

It’s an anti-carcinogen as well as an antioxidant which we already know, and due to such reasons, various research for the use of Holy Basil in cancer management is undergoing, one such research states that the unique blend of phytochemicals Holy basil has may help in the prevention of cancer which are caused by carcinogenic chemicals, and thus can be used a prophylactic.

Respiratory health

Camphene, along with Eugenol and cineole are compounds that act as anti-catarrh and help release phlegm from the throat and the lungs. These compounds promote robust respiratory health by nourishing the alveoli of the lungs.

Other benefits

  • Lowers the chances of gastric ulcer
  • Elevates endurance
  • Lowers cortisol levels
  • Liver Protector
  • Conserves Vision
  • Useful for nicotine withdrawal symptoms
  • Promotes a feeling of wellness.

Holy Basil Tea

Basil Tea Or Tulasi Tea is a very common way of consuming Holy Basil for its medicinal and aromatic qualities.
And also in liquid form, it is more easily digestible and bioavailable as the heat from the hot water would promote oil release and also it makes for a good beverage for everyone.

To make Basil Tea you can Either use Holy Basil’s leaves or Holy Basil Powder, you may add turmeric, fennel, clove and black pepper, and honey to it, in the water and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes in hot water above 167 C or 75 celsius. With leaves, you would have to make sure that you wash them thoroughly before using and you would need to boil the water with Holy Basil leaves to get its oil infused with the water.

Holy Basil Tea Ingredients

  • Water 250 Ml
  • Holy Basil Powder 2 teaspoon
  • 1 clove
  • ½ teaspoon of Fennel
  • ¼ teaspoon of Turmeric
  • 1 Cardamom

This tea is a quick and easy way of consuming Holy Basil and can be used daily for the therapeutic benefits of this elixir of life from the ancient Indian science of long life.

Possible Holy Basil Side Effects

Holy Basil is safe and has been used not only as medicine but as an everyday spice in the Indian Subcontinent, and there are no known major side effects of consuming Holy Basil in low to moderate amounts.

All the studies on the safety of Holy Basil are no longer than 8 weeks so if you are using holy basil in extremely high amounts you need to practice caution.
Holy Basil is known to cause sperm motility uses and Females who are trying to get pregnant should avoid consuming a high amount of Holy Basil.
It is a natural blood thinner so it can cause bleeding in patients who suffer from low platelet counts or blood thinning drugs.
As it is known to bring down blood sugar it is advised that people suffering from type 2 diabetes who are on antihyperglycemic pills or drugs should avoid consuming Holy basil in high amounts.

Summary

Holy Basil grows with hairy stems unlike common basil and has several nutritional and medicinal properties, including anti-cancer, antimicrobial, and antioxidant ones, which can be used to aid several common health issues, while maintaining the balance of our bodies’ different functions This is why it has been used in both Indian traditional medicine and in Ancient Greek or Unani Medicine. Consumed in the form of tea or in foods as a spice it’s an elixir of life which must be present in your spice cabinet for the next time you need a drink to start your day. This will not only give you the kick to keep the stress away but also get you going with a feeling of wellness.