Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Find a Vitamin or Supplement

HOLY BASIL

Other Names:

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, Oc...
See All Names

 Overview
 Uses
 Side Effects
 Interactions
 Dosing
Overview Information

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."

How does it 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.

Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Insufficient Evidence 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.


Side Effects & Safety

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.

Interactions What is this?

Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination

  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with HOLY BASIL

    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 interacts with HOLY BASIL

    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.


Dosing

We currently have no information for Dosing

See 46 Reviews for this Treatment - OR -

Review this Treatment

Learn about User Reviews and read IMPORTANT information about user generated content

Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

Search for a Vitamin or Supplement

Ex. Ginseng, Vitamin C, Depression

Today on WebMD

Woman taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
Man taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
 
clams
Quiz
Woman in sun
Slideshow
 
Flaxseed added fiber
Video
!!69X75_Vitamins_Supplements.jpg
Evaluator
 
Woman sleeping
Article
Woman staring into space with coffee
Article
 
Related Newsletters

Stay Informed with the latest must-read information delivered right to your inbox.

IMPORTANT: About This Section and Other User-Generated Content on WebMD

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatment or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.