Holy Basil: Benefits for Your Brain and Body

Medically Reviewed on 7/28/2022
Holy Basil: Benefits for Your Brain and Body
Learn about the potential health benefits of holy basil

Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is different from sweet basil, which is primarily used in cooking. 

Holy basil is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine and is associated with multiple health benefits.

Learn about the potential health benefits of holy basil.

10 health benefits of holy basil

1. Improves heart health

Holy basil is rich in two heart-healthy nutrients, beta-carotene and magnesium: 

Beta carotene prevents free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the bloodstream, which would otherwise contribute to atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

Magnesium widens blood vessels, encourages blood flow, and reduces the risk of irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia.

In addition, the cinnamic acid found in holy basil enhances blood circulation, and eugenol helps regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

2. Improves cognitive brain health

Holy basil is high in brain-boosting compounds, including magnesium and flavonoids. Magnesium increases memory and learning, while flavonoids have been linked to better brain function.

By lower cortisol levels in the body, holy basil also helps improve mental clarity and may reduce the risk of age-related mental illnesses.

3. Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties

Holy basil leaves contain eugenol, citronellol, linalool, citral, limonene, methyl chavicol, cinnamate, and terpineol, which inhibit the growth of disease-causing bacteria, especially those that cause food poisoning, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and dysentery.

Basil leaves also have antitussive properties (suppresses the cough center) and act as an expectorant (helps get phlegm out of the chest). This can be helpful in treating coughs, colds, sore throats, as well as chronic and acute bronchitis

4. Reduces stress

Holy basil helps maintain normal cortisol levels in the body. In studies, the leaves have shown strong adaptogenic characteristics (anti-stress agents) that can help soothe nerves and combat free radicals that can form during stressful situations.

5. Helps with kidney stones

Holy basil can help reduce uric acid levels due to its acetic acid content. The leaves also have diuretic effects. Both of these factors can help prevent and treat kidney stones.

6. Promotes eye health

With advancing age, the macula in the eye degenerates. Studies suggest that eating foods high in zeaxanthin and lutein can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by 40%.

Holy basil is high in beta carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin that combat free radicals and support eye health. Thus, frequent consumption of basil leaves may help reduce the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

7. Regulates blood sugar

Holy basil leaves are high in antioxidants and essential oils, such as eugenol and caryophyllene, that help make sure that your pancreatic beta cells (cells that store and release insulin) function properly. This improves insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar levels, making it suitable for people with diabetes.

8. Helps prevent cancer

Studies have suggested that holy basil may help slow the progression of breast and oral cancer due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties. Basil may also restrict blood flow to the tumor by targeting the blood vessels supplying it.

9. Boosts immunity

Holy basil is a powerful natural immune booster, helping strengthen the body’s defenses against viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.

10. Promotes dental health

Holy basil has astringent characteristics and contains mercury, which has potent germicidal capabilities. These properties may help kill bacteria that cause cavities, plaque, tartar, and foul breath. However, since prolonged direct contact with teeth can cause damage, it is best to avoid chewing holy basil leaves in large quantities for extended periods of time.

How to consume holy basil

Holy basil leaves can be eaten raw in moderation.

However, one of the most popular ways to consume holy basil is in the form of tea. The dried leaves can be brewed or used as a powder. Simply dissolve a spoonful of the powder in one cup of hot water and steep for 5-6 minutes.

Consuming holy basil in the morning can help reduce cravings, lower blood sugar levels, and boost cognitive performance. Consuming holy basil in the evening can help promote better sleep.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 7/28/2022
Image Source: iStock image

Holy Basil. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/holy-basiil-uses-and-risks

Holy Basil: An Herb With Incomparable Benefits. https://medericenter.org/the-mederi-blog/holy-basil-an-herb-with-incomparable-benefits.html