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Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 4-allyl-1-O-beta-D-glucopyronosyl-2-hydroxybenzene, ajaka, apigenin, bai gka-prow, bai gkaprow, baranda, basilici herba, beta-elemene, brinda, cinnamyl acetate, cirsilineol, cirsimaritin, common basil, eugenol, fatty acids, flavonoids, garden basil, green holy basil, hot basil, hydroxychavicol glucoside, Indian basil, isothymonin, isothymusin, kala tulasi, kala tulsi, kemangen manjari, Krishna tulsi, krishnamul, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, Manjari tulsi, OciBest®, Ociglycoside-I, Ocimum sanctum, Ocimum sanctum seed oil, Ocimum tenuiflorum, oleic acid, orientin, palmitic acid, parnasa, patra-puspha, polysaccharides, Rama tulsi, red holy basil, rosmarinic acid, sacred basil, sacred purple basil, shayama tulsi, St. Joseph's wort, stearic acid, suvasa tulasi, Thai basil, thulasi, thulsi, triterpene acids ,Trittavu, tulasi, tulshi, tulsi, tulsi chajadha, vicenin, Vishnu priya, zinc.
  • Selected combination products: Caps HT2 (Commiphora mukul, Allium sativum, Plumbago indica, Semecarpus anacardium, Hemidesmus indicus, Terminalia arjuna, Tinospora cordifolia, Withania somnifera and Ocimum sanctum), EuMil® (Withania somnifera L., Dunal, Ocimum sanctum L., Asparagus racemosus Willd. and Emblica officinalis Gaertn.), Immu-21® (extracts of Ocimum sanctum, Withania somnifera, Emblica officinalis and Tinospora cordifolia), Opthacare® (Carum copticum, Terminalia bellirica, Emblica officinalis, Curcuma longa, Ocimum sanctum, Rosa damascena and Cinnamomum camphora), Siotone® (Withania somnifera, Ocimum sanctum, Asparagus racemosus, Tribulus terristris and shilajit), Transina™ (Withania somnifera, Tinospora cordifolia, Eclipta alba, Ocimum sanctum, Picrorrhiza kurroa and shilajit), Zyflamend® (Baikal skullcap, barberry, Chinese goldthread, ginger, green tea, Indian holy basil, hu zhang, orégano, rosemary, and turmeric).
  • Not included in this review: Sweet basil, Ocimum basilicum.

Background

  • The two main types of basil are closely related: Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil), which is a staple of Italian and Asian cooking, and Ocimum sanctum (holy basil), which has a religious use or origin in different cultures. Both forms are native to Asia, although they are grown around the world.
  • Holy basil has been used medicinally by many cultures. Chinese medicine uses holy basil for stomach spasms, kidney conditions, to promote blood circulation, and to treat snake and insect bites.
  • In India, holy basil is known as tulsi and is used in religious ceremonies. It is believed to protect any home where it is grown. According to Ayurvedic tradition, tulsi is one of the best herbs to prepare the heart and mind for spiritual practices, treat colds and flu, relieve various skin conditions, and reduce fever.
  • Research on holy basil suggests that it contains powerful antioxidants and may provide protection to the liver. Also, early studies are looking into holy basil's effects on ulcers, blood sugar levels in diabetics, anxiety/stress, cavity prevention, and changes in immune response.

Evidence

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Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.