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Holy basil is an aromatic plant, also called tulasi or tulsi, and is one of God’s greatest miracle plants. With incredible healing power, holy basil benefits have been a reliable medicine for centuries.

The History of Holy Basil Benefits

Known in the scientific community as Ocimum sanctum, the history of holy basil dates as far back as the ancient Hindu in 1,500 BC. Highly regarded in Ayurvedic medicine, holy basil is mentioned in the Rig Veda, an ancient collection of Indian hymns, and its sacredness has been celebrated in the Purana.

Mentioned in medical papers, such the Charaka Samhita, around the coming of Christ, it has been mainly admired for demonstrating Vishnupriya (the “beloved” of Vishnu), as Indian folklore claim that tulsi is the incarnation of the goddess Lakshmi (the spouse of Vishnu).

With such a rich religious history, how can we expect anything less?

4 Ways Holy Basil Benefits Your Body

Even though it is found in several tropical locales around the world, we assume tulsi is native to tropical Asia. Used in these regions as a medicine for millennia due to its incredible healing benefits, health benefits of holy basil are seen in many countries as an anti-stress agent and it is used widely as a health food.

Here are just a few ways tulsi is used today:

1. Cancer

Recently, an incredible review published in the the journal Nutrition and Cancer delineated the flood of scientific evidence linking tulsi to a cure for cancer. Here is what they found:

  • Since holy basil benefits holds substantial anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting elements that fight against stress, fever, and pain, and even protect vital organs, patients who consume the plant on a regular basis are better equipped to fight cancer cells.
  • The phytochemicals in holy basil boost antioxidant activity, stop metastasis, prevent blood vessel growth, kill cancer cells, and alter health gene expressions, helping to prevent chemical-induced lung, oral, liver and skin cancers.
  • The aqueous extract of holy basil guards against γ-radiation-induced disease and death, to shield the standard tissues against the tumoricidal effects of radiation.
  • Furthermore, it thwarts radiation-induced DNA mutilation, which highlights tulsi’s prevalent capacity to encourage healing.

The remarkable thing to consider here is that this one plant can not only kill cancer, but it can prevent it altogether and even helps defend the body against harsh cancer treatments. To be honest, there’s no real reason why everyone shouldn’t consume holy basil regularly.

2. Diabetes

Holy basil benefits also include the ability to keep blood sugar in check has been understood since the mid-1990s. For example, scientists at Azad University of Agriculture and Technology (India), in a test of tulsi’s impact on diabetes, studied holy basil’s impact on rats. When compared to a control group, researchers observed some amazing results from the rats receiving tulsi. Fasting blood sugar levels fell by 21 mm/dl, but postprandial (after eating) glucose also fell by 15.8 mm/dl, which represented reductions of 17.6 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively. Interestingly, cholesterol levels were reduced in the course of the study as well.

Several years later, it was proven that the aqueous extract of O. sanctum leaves were able to reduce glucose by more than 36 percent in ordinary rats and by 18 percent in rats that were given diabetes. It “also showed a favorable effect on glucose disposition in glucose fed hyperglycemic rats,” according to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

These results have had no problem withstanding the test of time. In fact, a few years later, a report published in the Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences reaffirmed the antidiabetic properties of holy basil in an analysis of works likening holy basis to other medicinal plants including Tinospora cordifolia, Trigonella foenum, graecum Pterocarpus marsupium, Phyllanthus amarus, Momrodica charantia, Gymnema sylvestre, Panax ginseng, Eugenia jambolana, and Allium sativa..

3. Acne

Holy basil benefits are commonly used to enhance skincare products. A study out of Naresuan University in Thailand looked at the effectiveness of Thai basil essential oil on certain types of acne. It was discovered through this research that holy basil works against many acne-causing bacteria due to its antimicrobial powers. What’s more fascinating, it that researchers also said that the main component of holy basil oil is eugenol, the main feature in the antimicrobial clove oil, which is commonly known to treat several skin disorders.

Furthermore, it was found that congealed components had the propensity to reduce antibacterial movement. Consequently, when applying tulsi as a form of natural acne treatment, try using unrefined virgin coconut oil as a carrier oil because when heated, it is more gummy and absorbs into the skin better than other oils.

4. Hormones

Not only can holy basil benefits help diabetes patients by managing blood sugar levels, but a recent study published in the journal Die Pharmazie (German for “The Pharmacy”) also says that its hypoglycemic impacts are probably caused by the herb’s ability to control serum cortisol levels. Commonly called the “stress” hormone and more commonly ignored, cortisol is the cause of a frightening number of diabetes diagnoses all around the world.

In fact, it is known to wreak havoc on the body, including causing heart disease, memory loss, weight gain, osteoporosis, and learning disabilities. This hormone can be so dangerous that Psychology Today refers to it as “Public Enemy #1!

Truthfully, there aren’t many plants that can claim the fantastic effects of Ocimum sanctum. It’s really no surprise ancient Hindus adored it! There’s no need to wait to benefit from these health benefits of holy basil.


  1. Manikandan P, et al. Ocimum sanctum Linn. (Holy Basil) ethanolic leaf extract protects against 7, 12-dimethylbenz(a)anthrace ne-induced genotoxicity, oxidative stress, and imbalance in xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes. J Med Food 2007; 10(3):495-502.
  2. Vivoch J, et al. Evaluation of in vitro antimicrobial activity of Thai basil oils and their micro-emulsion formulas against Propionibacterium acnes. Int Journal of Cosmet Sci 2006; 28(2): 125-33.
  3. Agrawal P, et al. Randomized placebo-controlled, single blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 1996; 34(9):406-9.
  4. Vats V, et al. Evaluation of antihyperglycemic and hypoglycemic effect of Trigonella foenum graecum Linn, Ocimum sanctum Linn and Pterocarpus marsupium Linn in normal and alloxanized diabetic rats. J Ethanopharmacol 2002; 79:95–100.
  5. Rai V, et al. Effect of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) leaf powder supplementation on blood sugar levels, serum lipids and tissue lipid in diabetic rats. Plant foods Hum Nutr 1997; 50:9–16.
  6. Chandra A, et al. Effect of Indian herbal hypoglycemic agents on antioxidant capacity and trace elements content in diabetic rats. J Med Food 2008; 11:506–12.
  7. Baliga MS, et al. Ocimum sanctum L (Holy Basil or Tulsi) and its phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Nutr Cancer 2013; 65 Suppl 1:26-35.
  8. Gholap S, et al. Hypoglycaemic effects of some plant extracts are possibly mediated through inhibition in corticosteroid concentration. Pharmazie 2004; 59 (11):876-8.
  9. Khan V, et al. A pharmacological appraisal of medicinal plants with antidiabetic potential. J Pharm Bioallied Sci 2012; 4(1):27-42.
  10. Bergland C. Cortisol: why “the stress hormone” is public enemy no. 1. Psychology Today 2013 [Internet]. Available at:


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