Health & Wellness

6 Tulsi (Holy Basil) Benefits + Side Effects & Dosage

Let’s talk about an herb that isn’t covered quite as often as others yet still offers some incredible health benefits: tulsi, or holy basil.

Used frequently in Ayurvedic medicine, it has many properties that can help you feel more relaxed and calmer by addressing your body’s ability to respond to stress. [1]

It also fights harmful inflammation and infections while even supporting healthy cholesterol levels and brain health!

Want to learn more? Let’s dive in!

 

The Top 6 Health Benefits of Holy Basil

Here are some of the top benefits of holy basil.

1. Relieves stress and anxiety

Many people cope with stress and anxiety every day of their lives. And while some help reduce their levels of stress and anxiety through exercise and meditation, there are other things you can do as well.

Holy basil is a proven natural remedy for both stress and anxiety that you can also consider!

Researchers studied the effect of holy basil on male albino rats. There were six groups of rats. One was the control group, and the other five experienced restraint-induced stress and anxiety.

Four of the groups went on to participate in activities like mazes and forced swimming so researchers could observe and measure their levels of anxiety and stress. Some rats consumed holy basil to see if it helped reduce stress and anxiety. [2]

Study results showed that holy basil reduced the rats’ stress and anxiety responses, significantly improving their performance in the activities

Similarly, holy basil may help reduce stress and anxiety for people who consume it through supplementation or a healthy diet.

2. Reduces inflammation

Holy basil also has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a good source of several anti-inflammatory compounds: eugenol, cirsilineol, cirsimaritin, apigenin, and rosmarinic acid.

Interestingly, all of these compounds reduce inflammation by inhibiting cyclooxygenase-2, which is also linked to cancer. [3] And, amazingly, studies show that the anti-inflammatory benefits of holy basil match that of ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin! [4]

3. Fights infection

You can also treat or prevent a wide variety of infections with holy basil! Its antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties are well documented, with holy basil being shown to help treat staph and pseudomonas infections, as well as drug-resistant salmonella and gonorrhea. [5, 6, 7]

Holy basil also kills other types of bacteria. Scientists studied the effect of holy basil oil on mice with pneumonia-causing bacteria.

During the experiment, some mice consumed clove oil, while others had holy basil oil. While clove oil killed the pneumonia bacteria in the short term, tulsi oil reduced bacteria levels the most with long-term feeding. [8]

By prevent the bacteria from colonizing in the rats’ lungs, holy basil prevented them from getting sick from the bacteria that was already present. This same mechanism may help prevent or treat pneumonia in people!

4. Supports healthy cholesterol levels

We’ve discussed previously that high cholesterol can lead to many different heart and vascular health issues. But did you know that holy basil can help lower cholesterol to mitigate and reverse these effects?

In one study, scientists measured the effect of holy basil on the cholesterol levels in mice. They split the mice into three groups, and the control group ate a regular diet while the second group ate a high cholesterol diet for seven weeks.

While the third group ate a high cholesterol diet during that time as well, they were also fed holy basil during the last three weeks of the experiment. [9]

Researchers found that holy basil protected the rats from high cholesterol-induced heart and liver damage. It also reduced the cholesterol levels in their heart and liver tissues, as well and their bloodstreams.

So, if you have high cholesterol, adding holy basil to your routine may help you reach a normal range!

5. Supports healthy blood sugar levels

Did you know that holy basil can also reduce blood sugar levels?

Diabetic rats that consumed holy basil powder for a month experienced a significant drop in their fasting blood sugar levels. In fact, they were within normal range after just a month of holy basil supplementation! [10]

This suggests that adding holy basil to your diet may help you gain more control over your blood sugar.

6. May ease Alzheimer’s symptoms

There are 6.2 million people with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. as of 2021. And the burden of this disease exceeds $500 billion in paid and unpaid care, as well as over 15 billion hours spent providing that care each year. [11]

As a result, treatments to prevent or manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are a public health priority. Well, it turns out that holy basil may be a key player in this effort!

Researchers induced Alzheimer’s disease in male Wistar albino rats. They then gave the rats holy basil extract, Levetiracetam, or a combination of the two to measure their effects on the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

While all three treatments improved memory, the holy basil extract by itself and combined with Levetiracetam also improved the physical condition of the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory. [12]

This suggests that holy basil may even be able to reverse some of the damage to the structures of the brain caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists need to conduct more studies, but it seems like holy basil has the potential to prevent or improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease!

Holy basil - Dr. Pingel

 

Holy Basil Side Effects and Dosage

You may be wondering what dose of holy basil you should take to experience some of its health benefits, and if there are any adverse side effects.

According to a meta-analysis of the effects of holy basil on humans, safe doses ranged between 300 mg to 3,000 mg each day.

The analysis included 24 studies that measured the effect of holy basil on blood sugar, cholesterol, immune response, and more. All of these studies concluded that holy basil is safe for human consumption. [13]

Additionally, there weren’t many side effects reported in most of the studies. One indicated that 250 mg capsules of holy basil twice a day may induce nausea. But, other than that, none of the studies noted any adverse effects of holy basilconsumption.

If you’re looking for a food-based addition to your current routine that can help regulate blood sugar, cholesterol, and many other health concerns, you still might want to consider holy basil.

It isn’t a replacement for any medical interventions your doctor prescribed, but it may help improve your outcomes. Discuss it with your doctor to see if holy basil supplementation is a healthy addition to your diet!

Key Takeaways

  • Holy basil has many health benefits. Studies show that it may reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It’s also got antibacterial and anti-viral properties!
  • Alzheimer’s disease places a significant burden on the United States healthcare system. There’s evidence to suggest that holy basil may help prevent or improve symptoms, easing the costs and caregiving demands of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • There aren’t many side effects to consuming holy basil. All current studies indicate that it’s safe, but it may cause nausea. Discuss it with your doctor before incorporating holy basil in your diet.

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