Scientists are confirming that the Holy Basilplant which is called Ocimum sanctum, also called Tulsi, has numerous health and medicinalbenefits. Research has determined the plant extractcan treat at least 20 conditions. The Holy Basil herb is one of the oldest andmost used medicinal herbs. It has provided the backbone of many treatmentsamong Ayurvedic physicians from thousands of years ago, as it was used to treat numerousdisorders. It has also been revered for its spiritualpotency, and has been dubbed among ancient Ayurvedic texts as the “elixir of life.” The word Tulsi is translated to “incomparable.” The plant grows in warm and tropical regions,but also up to 6,000 feet in the mountains. There are actually two general cultivars ofthe herb: One has green leaves and the other has purple leaves. Culinary Basil – Ocimum basilicum – is quitedifferent. A 2014 DNA sequencing study was conductedat the CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants genetically compared thetwo species. The research found significant genetic differencesbetween the two species. They may share a few of their constituentsbut their genetic sequences have significant differences. Holy Basil’s pungency is due to its contentof eugenol along with sesquiterpenoids. There are many other medicinal compounds inTulsi, which we list right here. According to Ancient Ayurvedic texts, thereare a number of conditions that Tulsi has been used for. These include:Stress and anxiety Coughing and asthmaIntestinal issues and diarrhea FeversArthritis Eye conditionsHiccups UlcersHeart and artery conditions Back painSkin conditions RingwormBites from insects, snakes, scorpions and othersMalaria Okay this list is huge. And yet there are even more conditions thatTulsi is recommended for by Ayurvedic physicians. The question now is whether scientific researchsupports these various uses for Holy Basil. Does the ancient medicinal remedy stand upin the face of modern science? Let’s look at some of the research. A 2019 study from Nigeria tested 63 ulcerpatients with holy basil oil with coconut oil or a placebo for four weeks alongsideantibiotics. The researchers found the holy basil oil helpederadicate H. pylori and resolve ulcer symptoms including pain. Research from the College of Pharmacy at theUniversity of Delhi found that the oil of Holy Basil was able to counteract ulcerativeeffects. Other studies have confirmed this effect. A number of studies have investigated HolyBasil’s ability to reduce infections due to bacteria. Much of this antibacterial character of HolyBasil is due to eugenol. Eugenol has undergone study in other venuesas a proven antimicrobial substance. For example, a 2015 study from Brazil’sUniversity Federal de Alfenas found that eugenol was antimicrobial against Salmonella and Micrococcus– both infective bacteria. A study from India’s Calcutta School ofTropical Medicine tested extracts of Holy Basil against antibiotic-resistant strainsof Salmonella and found the Tulsi significantly reduced these strong contagious bacteria. This antibacterial quality of Holy Basil supportsthe clinical experience of Ayurvedic doctors of ancient times that used Tulsi for conditionsrelated to numerous bacteria infections, including intestinal issues, lung conditions, skin infectionsand eye infections. Oxidative stress is related to a number ofdisorders including cardiovascular conditions, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis,aches and pains, liver issues and others. Oxidative stress occurs as the body respondsto the oxidation of fats and glucose within the body. This oxidation forms free radicals that inturn produce tissue damage. When lipoprotein fats such as LDL are oxidized,they begin to damage the blood vessels, creating atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and othercardiovascular issues. Free radicals can also damage brain cells,increasing the risk of dementia. Research from India’s Annamalai Universityfound that a whole leaf extract of Holy Basil significantly reduced lipid and protein oxidation. The researchers found that Tulsi exhibitedsuperior antioxidant properties but also lowered phase 1 enzymes that are found in peroxidationmetabolism. The extract also increased the phase 2 enzymes– which tend to balance and moderate oxidative stress. Another study from India’s DVS College ofArts and Science found that two different extracts of Holy Basil was able to significantlyreduce lipid peroxidation activity in a dose-dependent manner. Research from India’s Sharma Post GraduateInstitute of Medical Sciences fed rabbits 2 grams of Tulsi for 30 days. After the period, the rabbits showed significantlyreduced levels of glutathione and superoxide dismutase – indicating they had reducedlevels of oxidative stress. The ability of Tulsi to reduce oxidative stressis often referred to as an adaptogen. This means that it helps the body cope withthe stresses that burden our bodies from various fronts – whether it be physical, chemical,emotional or otherwise. This also relates to Tulsi’s ability toregulate insulin and glucose sensitivity. Analysis from the Southern California Evidence-BasedPractice Center has confirmed this among the research. A study from the All India Institute of MedicalSciences found that Tulsi reduced HbA(1c) levels in diabetic rats and reduced bloodsugar levels along with improved retina health after being fed Tulsi. Other similar studies have confirmed this. Tulsi is well-known for reducing stress andanxiety. A 2008 study from India’s Roy Instituteof Post Graduate Medical Education and Research tested 35 people with generalized anxietydisorders within a hospital clinic. The researchers treated the subjects with1,000 milligrams of Tulsi extract for 60 days. The subjects were tested in the beginning,and at 30 days and after 60 days, utilizing the Hamilton brief psychiatric rating scale(BPRS) along with examinations. The study found that Holy Basil significantlyreduced levels of anxiety, stress and depression among the patients. Reducing anxiety and physical stress are related. A study from India’s Central Drug ResearchInstitute found that extracted constituents of Holy Basil reduced stress levels. The mechanisms of this included normalizingblood sugar, modulating cortisol, attenuating the adrenal glands and balancing creatinekinase. Other research has shown that Holy Basil cantreat oral fibrosis. A study from India’s Banaras Hindu Universitytreated 41 patients with a mixture of Tulsi and turmeric (50/50). The patients applied a paste of the mix 3-4times a day. Blood samples together with ratings of burningsensations found that the Tulsi and turmeric combination resulted in a significant improvementamong the treated patients. Tulsi can also speed fracture healing. Research from India’s King George’s MedicalUniversity investigated the use of Tulsi for bone healing. The researchers treated 29 cases of bone fracturesin the mandible (jawbone). The subjects were treated with Tulsi or anherb called Hadjod. A third group acted as the control group. The researchers found that the Tulsi-treatedgroup had faster healing of their fractures compared with the placebo and Hadjod groups. And the Tulsi treatment resulted in greaterbone tensile strength. This was tested among the patients by measuringthe strength of their bites. Research from India’s University of Hyderabadfound that Tulsi produced anti-inflammatory effects related to reducing cardiovasculardisease. Holy Basil extracts reduced levels of inflammatorycytokines. Other studies have shown that Tulsi consumptionreduces LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides while increasing HDL-cholesterol – the goodcholesterol. The ability of the oil of Holy Basil to repelmosquitoes has been shown in case studies. The application of the oil onto the skin,clothing or mosquito nets has been shown to be of practical use in the prevention of malariaand other mosquito-transmitted diseases. Other research has shown it repels a numberof other insects. Tulsi has been shown to prevent DNA damageand the potential for tumor creation in a number of studies. In one study, researchers from India’s NationalEnvironmental Engineering Research Institute tested human lymphocytes in the laboratoryand found that a Holy Basil extract protected against DNA strand breaks. Other studies have shown that Tulsi and itsconstituents protect against DNA damage related to radiation and chemical exposures. Research has also shown that Holy Basil canhalt the growth of tumors that have already begun to develop. Researchers from Wayne State University treatedmice with breast tumors and found the Tulsi extract group inhibited the growth of thetumors. One of Tulsi’s constituents, known as vicenin-2,was tested against prostate tumors, with similar inhibition of growth in the tumor. Researchers from the University of NebraskaMedical Center tested Holy Basil against human pancreatic cancer cells in the lab. They found that Tulsi blocked the growth ofthe cancer cells into tumors. Tulsi blocked their proliferation, their migrationand their invasion of pancreatic cells. Researchers from South Korea’s Kyung HeeUniversity found that Tulsi fights cancer on tests on human lung cancer cells. The researchers found that the extract significantlysuppressed COX-2 enzymes. The extract also suppressed the growth ofthe lung cancer cells. A 2013 study reviewed other research on Tulsi’sability to treat or prevent cancer. They concluded that the wealth of researchon the oil and extract showed it to be anti-cancer. A couple of studies have investigated Tulsi’sability to halt or treat liver damage. Both studies showed Holy Basil had a positiveeffect on the liver’s health. These and other researchers have thus describedHoly Basil as “hepatoprotective” – which means it protects the liver. Research from the All India Institute of MedicalSciences tested 24 healthy people. They gave either a placebo or 300 milligramsof Tulsi each day for four weeks. After the treatment period, those who weregiven the Tulsi leaf extract showed significantly more T-helper cells, more natural killer cells,and increased IL-4 – indicative of a stronger and more vibrant immune system. Another study showed that Tulsi stimulatedthe increase in monocytes – THP-1. This is another sign of a stronger immunesystem. Researchers from India’s Sharma Universityof Health Sciences fed rabbits two grams of fresh Tulsi leaf for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, the rabbits weretested. Those fed the Tulsi had significantly increasedlevels of testosterone. However, it also decreased sperm counts, anda 1992 study showed that rats fed Tulsi showed reduced libido. Researchers tested five Ayurvedic medicinalplants against two Candida species – Candida albicans and C. tropicalis. Of the five herbal extracts tested, an oilextract of Tulsi showed the greatest inhibition against the Candida species. They stated: Researchers from Japan’s Prefectural Universityof Hiroshima tested a number of plant extracts from Asia and South America and found thatTulsi in particular was able to inhibit Leishmania. Leishmania is caused by several species ofparasites often spread through sand flies in some parts of the world. A 2014 study from India’s College of DentalSciences and Hospital studied Holy Basil against a number of infective bacteria. These included Prevotella and Fusobacteriumspecies, which are two infective bacteria found in gingivitis and other infections ofthe oral cavity. The research tested Holy Basil as a mouthwashand tested it against chlorhexidine as well as a placebo. The research found that the Holy Basil washinhibited bacteria similarly to chlorhexidine – a potent antibacterial agent with a numberof side effects. A study from India’s Santosh Dental Collegetested 45 children with infections of Streptococcus mutans – the major bacteria involved inperiodontal disease. The researchers tested six different plantextracts along with chlorhexidine. They found that while Tulsi was not as strongas garlic, it did have antibacterial activity against the bacteria. Ancient Ayurveda suggests that Tulsi is usefulto reduce pain in various conditions. This ability has been confirmed in a numberof studies, as Holy Basil has been shown to inhibit the cyclooxygenase 2 enzyme – theinflammatory enzyme known to stimulate substance P – which stimulates the sensation of painwithin the nerves. In a 2016 review of research, scientists fromIndia’s Father Muller Medical College studied the research evidence of Holy Basil to protectthe body from the onslaughts of radiation. The researchers found a number of studiesshowing that the extract helped protect the body from radiation, including radiation sicknessand death from radition.