Holy Basil

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What other names is Holy Basil known by?

Ajaka, Albahaca Santa, Bai Gkaprow, Baranda, Basilic Indien, Basilic Sacré, Basilic Sacré Pourpre, Basilic Saint, Brinda, Green Holy Basil, Hot Basil, Indian Basil, Kala Tulsi, Kemangen, Krishna Tulasi, Krishna Tulsi, Manjari, Ocimum sanctum, Ocimum tenuiflorum, Parnasa, Patrapuspha, Rama Tulsi, Red Holy Basil, Sacred Basil, Sacred Purple Basil, Shyama Tulsi, Sri Tulasi, Suvasa Tulasi, Tulasi, Tulsi, Tulsi Patra.

What is Holy Basil?

Holy basil is a plant. It is originally from India and is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an "adaptogen" to counter life's stresses. It is considered a sacred plant by the Hindus and is often planted around Hindu shrines. The Hindu name for holy basil, Tulsi, means "the incomparable one." Medicine is made from the leaves, stems, and seeds.

Holy basil is used for the common cold, influenza ("the flu"), H1N1 (swine) flu, diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, earache, headache, stomach upset, heart disease, fever, viral hepatitis, malaria, stress, and tuberculosis. It is also used for mercury poisoning, to promote longevity, as a mosquito repellent, and to counteract snake and scorpion bites.

Holy basil is applied to the skin for ringworm.

In cooking, holy basil is often added to stir-fry dishes and spicy soups because of its peppery taste. Cookbooks sometimes call it "hot basil."

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Anixety. Early research found that taking 500 mg of holy basil leaf extract twice daily after meals for 60 days reduced anxiety and associated stress and depression in people with anxiety.
  • Diabetes. Some early research suggests that a holy basil leaf extract might decrease blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Stress. In early research, taking 400 mg of a holy basil extract (M/s Natural Remedies Pvt. Ltd, India) by mouth in the morning and 800 mg at night for 6 weeks decreased symptoms of stress, including forgetfulness, sexual problems, exhaustion, and sleep problems.
  • Common cold.
  • Influenza ("the flu").
  • Asthma.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Earache.
  • Headache.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Heart disease.
  • Fever.
  • Insomnia.
  • Viral hepatitis.
  • Malaria.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Mercury poisoning.
  • Ringworm.
  • An antidote to snake and scorpion bites.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of holy basil for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Holy Basil work?

Chemicals in holy basil are thought to decrease pain and swelling (inflammation). Other chemicals might lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.

There is interest in using holy basil seed oil for cancer. Beginning research suggests that the oil can slow progression and improve survival rate in animals with certain types of cancer. Researchers think this benefit may be explained by the oil's ability to act as an antioxidant.

Are there safety concerns?

Holy basil is POSSIBLY SAFE when used by mouth for short periods of time, up to six weeks. It's not known if long-term use is safe.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of holy basil during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Surgery: Holy basil might slow blood clotting, so there is a concern that it could increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using holy basil at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Holy basil might slow blood clotting. Taking holy basil along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. But there isn't enough information to know if this is a big concern.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.



Pentobarbital
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Pentobarbital causes drowsiness. There is some concern that taking holy basil seed oil with pentobarbital might cause too much drowsiness. But there isn't enough information to know if this is a big concern.

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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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