Holy Basil

Holy basil is related to the familiar sweet basil that's used in cooking. Its leaves are pale green and have a somewhat hairy appearance.

Holy basil has long been used as a traditional medicine in China and India. Some cultures regard the plant as sacred.

Why do people take holy basil?

Holy basil has a history of use for treating many diseases and conditions however, quality scientific research is needed to show how holy basil may benefit people is needed:

It's also been used to try to treat a range of other health concerns, including:

In addition, holy basil may be useful:

 

Can you get holy basil naturally from foods?

Holy basil leaves, which have a spicy, lemony flavor, are used widely in food in Southeast Asia, such as in Thai stir-fried dishes.

What are the risks of taking holy basil?

Side effects. May causelow blood sugar. Research on animals shows that holy basil may:

Risks. Avoid using holy basil if you're allergic or sensitive to it or members of the Lamiaceae (mint) plant family. Side effect of holy basil also include upset stomach.

You should be cautious about using holy basil if you:

Women who are pregnant should avoid holy basil, since it might cause the uterus to contract.

 

Interactions. Research on animals suggests that holy basil might change the effect of many medications, including these drugs:

  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Pentobarbital (Nembutal)
  • Scopolamine (sold as generic only)

Tell your doctor about any supplements you're taking, even if they're natural. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with any medications.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does regulate dietary supplements; however, it treats them like foods rather than medications. Unlike drug manufacturers, the makers of supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or effective before selling them on the market.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carmen Patrick Mohan on May 12, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Natural Standard Professional Monograph: "Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum L.)."

Hakkim, F. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Oct. 31, 2007.

Mondal, S. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, October-December, 2009.

National Institutes of Health: "Ocimum sanctum L (Holy Basil or Tulsi) and its phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of cancer."

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