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Generic Name: Ocimum basilicum

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

Ajaka, bai gka-prow, bai gkaprow, baranda, basilici herba, brinda, common basil, garden basil, green holy basil, hot basil, Indian basil, kala tulasi, kala tulsi, kemangen manjari, Krishna tulsi, krishnamul, Manjari tulsi, Ocimum sanctum, Ocimum sanctum seed oil, Ocimum tenuiflorum, orientin, parnasa, patra-puspha, Rama tulsi, red holy basil, sacred basil, sacred purple basil, shayama tulsi, St. Joseph's wort, suvasa tulasi, Thai basil, thulasi, thulsi, Trittavu, tulasi, tulshi, tulsi, tulsi chajadha, vicenin, Vishnu priya.

Not included in this review: Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum).

Background

The two primary types of basil are closely related: Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil), which is a staple of Italian and Asian cooking, and Ocimum sanctum (holy basil), which has a religious use or origin in different cultures. Both forms are native to India and Southeast Asia, although they are grown around the world.

Holy basil has been used extensively for its medicinal values by a number of cultures. Chinese medicine uses holy basil for stomach spasms, kidney conditions, to promote blood circulation, and to treat snake and insect bites.

In India, holy basil is known as tulsi, which translates as "incomparable one." The plant, which is considered sacred, is used extensively in religious ceremonies and is believed to protect any home where it is grown. According to Ayurvedic tradition, tulsi is one of the best herbs to prepare the heart and mind for spiritual practices, resolve colds and flu, treat various skin conditions, and reduce fever.

Modern research on holy basil suggests that holy basil contains powerful antioxidants and it may be hepatoprotective (liver protecting). Also, preliminary clinical studies are investigating holy basil's effect on ulcers and blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. Holy basil has generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status in the United States.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Diabetes mellitus: Holy basil may have blood sugar lowering effects and may be useful as an adjunct to dietary therapy and drug treatment in mild to moderate diabetes mellitus. It is unknown whether common culinary basil (Ocimum basilicum) would have similar effects. More research is warranted.
Grade: C

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Adaptogen, allergies, analgesic (pain reliever), anthelmintic (expels worms), antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-fertility, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antipyretic (fever reducer), antispasmodic, anti-tumor, appetite stimulant, arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), bad breath, bronchitis, cancer, canker sores, cardiopathy, carminative (digestive aid), cataracts, catarrh (inflammation of the mucous membranes), cerebral reperfusion injury, cholera, common cold, conjunctival xerosis (dry eye), conjunctivitis (pink eye), constipation, cough, dacryocystitis (inflammation of the tear sac), demulcent (soothes inflamed tissue), diarrhea, dysentery (severe diarrhea), earache, eczema, enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine), exercise performance, expectorant (relieves cough/congestion), eye disorders, fever (chronic), galactagogue (promotes lacation), genitourinary disorders, gonorrhea (STD), gum disease, hemopathy, headaches, heart disease, hepatic disorders, hiccups, high cholesterol, immune system stimulant, improving circulation, indigestion, influenza, insect bites, kidney disorders, kidney stones, leucoderma (skin disorder), longevity, lumbar pain, malaria, mercury toxicity, metabolic disorders, mouth sores, ophthalmia (inflamed eye), phlegm removal, pinguecula (thickening of the white part of the eye), psoriasis (skin disease), pterygium (eye condition), quality of life, radioprotection, ringworm, skin diseases, snakebite, sore throat, stomach problems, stress, tonic, tuberculosis, ulcers, verminosis (parasitic worm disease), vomiting, whooping cough, wound healing.
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All visitors to AARP.org should seek expert medical care and consult their own physicians for any specific health issues. Read this disclaimer in its entirety.
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Note: This information is not intended to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions, or adverse effects for this drug. If you have question about the drug(s) you are taking, check with your health care professional.
 
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