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10 Holy Basil Benefits: Tulsi Helps Anxiety, Acne & More

What does holy basil do for the body? Researchers continue to learn how holy basil acts a natural protector of organs and tissues, defending against things like:
Holy basil has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and analgesic (painkilling) properties.
It can help kill bacteria that can cause breakouts and skin infections, so it’s a great natural remedy for wounds, plus a home remedy for acne and other skin irritations. It’s believed to benefit the skin and treat skin infections both internally and externally.
The primary active compound of holy basil oil is eugenol, also the active ingredient in the powerful antimicrobial clove oil, which is widely believed to help combat many skin disorders. Holy basil also contains other therapeutic components, including gamma-caryophyllene and methyl eugenol.
Holy basil benefits appear to include the ability to control blood sugar (glucose) levels as demonstrated by several test tube and animal experiments, as well as human clinical trials.
A randomized, placebo-controlled, single-blind trial of holy basil points toward its anti-diabetic activity. In this trial, patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes experienced decreases in fasting blood sugar levels, postprandial (after a meal) blood sugar levels, urine blood sugar levels and mean total cholesterol levels during the treatment period.
Overall, researchers concluded this herb may be prescribed as part of a treatment plan for people with metabolic syndrome or mild to moderate noninsulin-dependent diabetes.
Research shows that people who regularly consume tulsi may be less likely to be immunocompromised and less susceptible to developing certain types of cancer cells.
According to research published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, tulsi and its phytochemicals (including eugenol, rosmarinic acid, apigenin, myretenal, luteolin, β-sitosterol and carnosic acid), in some cases, may help prevent chemical-induced lung, liver, oral and skin cancers.
It’s believed this is due to the herb’s anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant activity, which alters healthy gene expressions, induces cancer cell death, prevents blood vessel growth from contributing to cancer cell growth and stops metastasis — which is the spread of cancer from one organ to another.
Holy basil also seems to protect the body from radiation poisoning and may help minimize damage from radiation treatment, according to research published in 2016 in the the Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics. It selectively protects the normal tissues against the destructive effects of radiation.
In fact, the journal Nutrition and Cancer published an interesting review outlining how tulsi may cause less side effects than other cancer treatments as it’s generally non-toxic.
There’s evidence that tulsi acts as an adaptogen by addressing physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress through a unique combination of pharmacological actions. One of the most well-researched abilities of this herb is keeping hormone levels balanced naturally and helping manage symptoms of anxiety.
According to a scientific article published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine:
Tulsi has also been shown to counter metabolic stress through normalization of blood glucose, blood pressure and lipid levels, and psychological stress through positive effects on memory and cognitive function and through its anxiolytic and antidepressant properties.
Studies show that holy basil contains three phytochemical compounds that help achieve these results. The first two, ocimumosides A and B, have been identified as anti-stress compounds and may lower blood corticosterone (another stress hormone) and create positive alterations in neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
According to an article published in Alternative and Complementary Therapies, the third, 4-allyl-1-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-2-hydroxybenzene, is also able to lower stress parameters in lab studies.
To use holy basil for anxiety, research suggests taking holy basil leaf extract twice daily after meals can help with managing symptoms. You can also try drinking tulsi tea or adding tulsi to your meals.
Does holy basil increase testosterone? While some speculate that it can boost testosterone production, perhaps by possibly reducing stress and supporting thyroid/adrenal function, there isn’t much evidence proving it has this effect.
Some preliminary research in animals actually shows the compound called ursolic acid found in holy basil may reduce fertility by damaging sperm. Therefore, it may potentially be used as an effective male contraceptive agent, although it’s not used for this purpose medically at this time.
Holy basil supports immune function and is often recommended as a natural fever reliever, especially by practitioners of Ayurveda. Holy basil leaves are thought to act as antibiotic, germicidal and disinfectant agents, which means they can protect us from bacteria and viruses.
When we have fevers, it’s proof that our bodies are fighting against infection. Therefore, with its infection-fighting properties, tulsi may help fight a fever. 
Holy basil benefits contains compounds including camphene, eugenol and cineole, which help provide relief from congestion and other symptoms of respiratory disorders.
Scientific studies have confirmed that this herb has impressive anti-asthmatic abilities and may make breathing easier, which is why it’s a commonly recommended herb for respiratory issues in Ayurvedic medicine.
One cup of tulsi leaves has more than your daily recommended value of vitamin K, making it a perfect source to prevent vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K can be beneficial to your bone density, digestive health and more.
Vitamin K is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in bone health and heart health. It’s one of the main vitamins involved in bone mineralization and blood clotting, and it also helps maintain cognitive function, a healthy metabolism and cellular health.
Animal studies published in the Alternative Medicine Review also demonstrate that Ocimum tenuiflorum/Ocimum sanctum has cardio-protective properties. In other words, it appears to support heart function, including by maintaining healthy arteries and circulation.
Tulsi may fight bacteria in your mouth that can lead to dental issues, such as cavities, plaque, tartar and bad breath.
It serves as a natural mouth freshener and cleanser because compounds found in the leaves support a healthy oral microbiome, including by killing bacteria and germs hiding in your mouth. Using an herbal mouthwash containing basil leaf extract twice daily seems to help reduce plaque and the risk for developing gingivitis.
Tulsi may also diminish ulcers in the mouth, and in vitro studies demonstrate it may stop the growth of oral cancer cells. For natural dental care, try adding a drop of tulsi essential oil to your toothpaste or drinking one cup of tulsi tea every day.
Practitioners of Ayurveda recommend holy basil as a natural headache remedy that can help relieve migraine pain.
Research suggests this is due to its ability to relieve inflammation, sinus pressure and muscular tension by fighting effects of stress. Try diffusing holy basil essential oil or making tulsi tea to reduce headache symptoms.
Our eyes are susceptible to viral, bacterial and fungal infections that can be very dangerous. Tulsi is commonly prescribed in Ayurveda to fight against conjunctivitis — also commonly known as pink eye — thanks to its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.
It may also help prevent a range of eye issues, including cataracts. According to Dr. S.K. Gupta of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, topical administration of an herbal eye drop mixture containing turmeric and holy basil extracts helps counter the oxidative stress and insoluble protein formation that lead to cataracts.


  • Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum) is referenced often in Ayurvedic medicine as an adaptogen herb that can help treat a large number of conditions, especially those related to stress.
  • This herb is available in leaf, powder, supplement and essential oil form. Used for thousands of years, there have been very few holy basil side effects reported, yet it’s known to support overall homeostasis and balance.
  • One of the most common uses for this adaptogen is treating anxiety. Other reasons to add it to your routine include to fight acne, diabetes, some types of cancer, hormonal issues, fevers, respiratory disorders, headaches and dental issues.

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