Like sweet basil, holy basil boasts aromatic green leaves and a peppery taste. Beyond its culinary uses, however, holy basil has been cultivated for medicinal use throughout its native India and other parts of Southeast Asia for centuries. Explore the reported benefits of this natural remedy, which may have wide-ranging implications for health and wellness.
Decreased Stress and Anxiety
Some studies associate holy basil with a decrease in excess cortisol. Balancing the levels of this stress hormone may benefit those who struggle with symptoms of stress and anxiety. Researchers from the School of Health Sciences, RMIT University, Victoria, Australia, also linked holy basil with improved cognitive function, better sleep and decreased memory loss related to aging.
Improved Respiratory Health
Plant-based compounds called camphor, cineole, camphene and eugenol help the breath flow by opening the airways. Holy basil is rich in these ingredients, which have also been associated with decreased cold and flu symptoms. Scientists think these ingredients provide natural protection from viruses and microbes. In research reported by Kaiser Permanente, consumption of holy basil improved breathing function and decreased the frequency of asthma attacks for study participants with asthma.
Cleaner Teeth and Gums
The same antiviral and antimicrobial properties that help provide cold and flu relief also promote oral health. Research has linked holy basil with less plaque build-up and decreased gum disease risk. The anti-inflammatory attributes of rosmarinic acid and ursolic acid in this plant also help battle tooth and gum disease.
Relief From Rashes
Holy basil oil can be used as a remedy for poison ivy, poison oak and other forms of dermatitis. The anti-inflammatory ingredients can soothe the itch, pain and discomfort associated with skin rashes. For best results, dilute just a drop or two of oil in a dollop of skin cream or lotion.
Some research even indicates that topical holy basil can help you achieve smoother, younger-looking skin. A study published in the DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Science associated plant oil with reducing the impact of UV rays on aging skin.
Lower Blood Glucose and Cholesterol
One randomized controlled trial found that a daily dose of 2,500 mg of holy basil for individuals with type 2 diabetes lowered both cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Another study looked at overweight and obese adolescents and found that the participants showed lower cholesterol, triglyceride and glucose levels as well as improved insulin levels after eight weeks of taking 500 mg of holy basil a day. These individuals also had fewer markers of insulin resistance after the trial.
Reduced Cancer Risk
An animal study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer showed that holy basil may have a protective effect against lung, oral, liver and skin cancers. The researchers theorized that phytochemicals in the plant slow the replication of cancerous cells, trigger the death of these cells and increase immune-boosting antioxidant levels.
As with many medicinal plants, you can consume holy basil as a tea by steeping the leaves and stems. If you're short on time, a dietary supplement can provide access to the same health benefits in seconds. At the Herban Shaman, we specialize in organic mushroom-based supplements with high-quality natural ingredients that support optimal physical and mental function. You'll find holy basil in our Mushroom Stress Support blend, formulated to promote balanced cortisol levels for a healthy stress response.