Holy basil is a popular and highly regarded adaptogenic herb that comes from the system of Ayurvedic medicine. It has a plethora of research and is sometimes called the incomparable one. According to nutritional analysis, holy basil is loaded with phytocompounds like apigenin, rosmarinic acid, orientin, vicenin, minerals, fatty acids, and ursolic acid eugenol cinnamyl acetate, beta elemene, carvacrol, and many other flavanoids and beneficial nutrients. Studies have seen stress relieving, anti-anxiety, glucose lowering, cardio-protective, hepato-protective, antispasmodic, analgesic, adaptogenic, diaphoretic, adrenal balancing, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, bronchial asthma, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-arthritic, and immune enhancing properties. Holy basil may also work with malaria, diarrhea, dysentery, skin diseases, and hypothyroid disorders. (1,2,3)
The nutrients in holy basil seem to have some good anti-cancer properties. The journal Nutrition and Cancer published a review on holy basil. It works in part by blocking COX-2, which is a pro-inflammatory pathway that can trigger cancerous processes in the body. Holy basil may also decrease the damage done by radiation and have regenerative stimulating qualities. It helps to decrease certain cancerous cells from metastasizing, while killing some as directly as well. Eugenol also helps to inhibit the division and migration of cancer cells to other areas of the body, and prevents the creation of blood vessels to tumors (angiogenesis). It's no surprise that holy basil has good anti-cancer properties with compounds like apigenin, rosmarinic acid, luteolin, myretenal, carnosic acid and beta-sitosterol. (4,5)
Holy basil is very well tolerated and successful at improving conditions that deal with stress and mood. Studies have shown that it can help quell anxiety and boost neurotransmitters like dopamine. Evidence points to holy basil being excellent at lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is essential obviously, but in most people it is far too high, and can cause problems in the body if left unchecked. Holy basil helps balance the entire system, which is why it is sometimes regarded as an adaptogen.
A 2008 study from the Roy Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research tested 35 subjects with anxiety disorders for 60 days. The study concluded that holy basil significantly reduces anxiety, stress, and can even help depression. (3) Holy basil may help to improve lipid profiles and glucose numbers. Two separate studies saw a significant drop in fasting glucose levels with holy basil. Research also shows that it imparts protective effects to the liver and raises antioxidant defenses. (6)
Suggested use: 500mgs twice per day on an empty stomach with water