Holy basil is scientifically known as Ocimum tenuiflorum, an aromatic herb that is famous for its therapeutic properties. Holy basil is a very common ingredient in the Ayurvedic medicines and it’s been cultivated for medical purposes for a long time. The holy basil is also known as Ocimum sanctum and it is one of sixty species of basil or Ocimum basilicum. The outstanding natural compounds of the holy basil provide many health benefits. The medicinal properties of holy basil make this herb a great natural healer. Holy basil contains three very important health promoting properties- anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-biotic. Flavonoids and volatile oils in holy basil enhance the healing abilities of this herb.
Nutritional Facts of Holy Basil – Vitamins, Minerals and Other Chemical Compounds
Holy basil or Ocimum tenuiflorum is an excellent source of Vitamin K. In addition, it’s a wonderful source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Good amounts of other nutrients that can be found in holy basil are dietary fibre, potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. But the strength of the holy basil’s nutritional profile lies in the phytochemical compounds. The leaves of holy basil contains Ursolic acid, Rosmarinic acid and Eugenol (essential or volatile oil). Holy basil leaves also contain natural compounds such as Oleanolic acid or oleanic acid and Caryophyllene. The seeds of holy basil contain Linoleic acid and Linoleic acid.
Health Benefits of Holy Basil or Ocimum tenuiflorum
The strong health promoting compounds in holy basil are responsible for making it a great herb for the health. Holy basil provides both mental and physical health benefits. Given below is the list of 10 most important health benefits of holy basil.
- Cardiovascular Health: Holy basil contains many heart promoting compounds. Powerful anti-oxidant Vitamin A plays important role in the protection of epithelial cells from the free radical damage. Free radical damage is highly responsible for oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream. Oxidized cholesterol can lead to heart disease like atherosclerosis and may result heart attack and stroke. Vitamin C is another anti-oxidant helps to lower the cholesterol levels and reduces the chance of developing coronary artery disease. Magnesium helps to relax muscles and blood vessels and improves blood flow. It also helps to maintain the heart rhythms. Potassium is a very useful mineral for controlling the blood pressure levels.
- Digestive System: Holy basil strengths the digestive system. It improves the digestion power and helps to eliminate the toxins. The juice of holy basil leaves improves the health of digestive tract significantly. Holy basil gives relief from the acidity and gas. It also contains ulcer healing properties. Medicinal properties of holy basil help to cure gastric ulcer and peptic ulcer. In addition, this herb is also known for liver function support. It improves liver function and protects liver from various diseases.
- Immune Health: One of the major health benefits of holy basil is that it improves immune system significantly. Holy basil plays important roles to calm the immune system. The chemical compounds of holy basil help to keep healthy hormonal balance and immune system. It enhances the cellular immunity and the number of immune defence cells. By strengthening the immune system holy basil protects from asthma, allergies, arthritis, cancer, cold and flu. Eugenol in this herb reduces the chances of viral hepatitis and also the growth of HIV virus.
- Common Cold: Holy basil leaves are a good remedy for the fever and common cold. Phytochemicals and essential oil of this herb contain anti-biotic and anti-viral properties. Holy basil strengthens the defence mechanism of the body against the fever causing viruses. The strong anti-biotic properties of holy basil protect the body against bacteria and infections caused by the bacteria. It’s a wonderful herb for the cold and fever; it protects and heals the diseases and conditions caused by virus and bacteria.
- Respiratory Health: It’s a very good herb for respiratory health as it helps to improve the lungs health. The essential oils in holy basil help to cure the bronchitis. It also cures the congestion of the lungs. Holy basil is a good remedy to cure damaged lungs and also very helpful in the treatment of tuberculosis.
- Skin Health: Phytochemicals and essential oils in holy basil are extremely important for the skin health. These compounds improve various skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. Anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties of holy basil protect the skin from infections. They are also very good in healing wounds and making it for flexible and wrinkle free. Holy basil is an excellent herb for preventing and treating skin cancer.
- Stress: Stress can lead to many dangerous diseases. Holy basil is known for its remarkable adaptogenic and anti-stress properties. It reduces the stress and as a result reduces the stress related diseases such as hypertension, chronic fatigue etc. Eating a few holy basil leaves daily can give relief from the stress.
- Nervous System Health: Holy basil enhances the brain functions as it normalizes neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Holy basil extract works as a brain tonic and helps to sharpen the memory.
- DNA Protection: Flavonoids in holy basil cell structures and chromosomes from oxidative damages. They have the ability to protect the DNA from the dangerous power of various forms of radiation. Some of the volatile oils in holy basil such as estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene give protection against bacterial growth. Therefore, flavonoids and essential oils are very important for the protection of the cells and body from oxygen based damages and bacteria.
- Urinary System: Holy basil is a detoxifier and basil seeds are used in curing urinary problems. Holy basil reduces uric acid level and cleans the kidney. According to Ayurveda, intake of juice of basil leaves and honey, if taken regularly for six months- can expel the kidney stones via urinary tract.
Other health benefits of holy basil are that it’s good anti-cancer herb. Ursolic and oleanolic acids in holy basil have anti-tumour activity. Holy basil is very good in the prevention and cure of muscular fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, cataracts, arthritis and leukemia.