Holy Basil

Also indexed as:Ocimum sanctum, Ocimum tenuiflorum
Holy Basil: Main Image © Martin Wall
Botanical names:
Ocimum sanctum, Ocimum tenuiflorum

Parts Used & Where Grown

Holy basil is native to the Indian subcontinent and other parts of tropical Asia. The leaf and seed oil are used therapeutically.

  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
500 mg three times per day2 stars[2 stars]
Animal studies have found that extracts of holy basil help keep the bronchial airway passages clear. In two trials, asthma patients who took holy basil had better breathing function and fewer attacks.
Type 2 Diabetes
1,000 to 2,500 mg daily2 stars[2 stars]
Taking holy basil may help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels.
Poison Oak/Ivy
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Holy basil has been used historically to treat skin inflammations such as poison oak and poison ivy.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Holy basil is a relative of the more familiar species used in cooking. Known to the Ayurvedic medical tradition as tulsi, it has been called the “Queen of Herbs” since the times of ancient civilization in India.1 Ayurvedic tradition classifies tulsi as an adaptogenic herb, capable of increasing the body’s resistance to stress and disease.2, 3 Its many specific uses have included coughs, colds, and other respiratory disorders, fevers, headaches, stomach disorders, and heart disease.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2017.