Why this one herb can help with diabetes, hypertension?

Indigenous cultures have used traditional herbal remedies for the treatment and prevention of disease for thousands of years.1 The bioactive compounds found in medicinal plants have become key research points for drug therapies2 and have been replicated in the lab by Big Pharma. 3

Holy basil, or tulsi, (Ocimum sanctum) is a medicinal herb favored in Ayurvedic medicine for the tremendous health benefits it provides.4 It is widely used in Southeast Asia and is making a name for itself in Western medicine today.

Tulsi is a potent adaptogenic herb with known antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant properties. There are several products on the market today that use tulsi, including tea, extract, and essential oil

Holy basil is a flowering plant in the mint family. It is sacred in Hinduism because of its association with Lord Vishnu, one of the main deities of the religion.6 In addition to medicinal uses, tulsi is also widely cultivated and used as a culinary spice.7 Its peppery mint flavor enhances and concentrates during cooking. Outside of its native region, it is considered an invasive species.

Tulsi can grow up to 1.5 meters in the intense heat of India, but can normally grow up to 2 meters in more temperate regions.8 It is a short-lived perennial or annual, depending on the region. In comparison, sweet basil is a popular culinary herb that grows in many areas and can be grown indoors. Although they are of the same sex, they are distinctly different in taste and appearance

Tulsi may help lower the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure

Diabetes increases the risk of high blood pressure10 and vice versa.11 There is some evidence that holy basil affects blood glucose and may help lower high blood pressure.

In 1996, researchers studied the effect of holy basil on the blood glucose of albino rats.12 Their results indicated that administration of holy basil could lower blood glucose after fasting and eating. Reductions in urine glucose levels followed the same trend.

These results are similar to those found over the many years of using holy basil in ayurvedic interventions for diabetes. A review of the Ayurvedic literature13 revealed many studies in which the practice of using holy basil included the treatment of diabetes, hepatitis, cardiovascular and infectious diseases.

More recently, scientists have assessed several plants with antidiabetic potential and bioactive compounds, including holy basil.14 The leaves of the plant contain eugenol, ursolic acid, carvacrol and linalool. Tulsi is also rich in vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and other phytonutrients, including flavonoids, saponins, and triterpenoids.

The leaves are reported to stimulate insulin secretion and decrease serum levels of cortisol and glucose in an animal model.15 It also demonstrated a dose-dependent hypoglycemic effect in another animal study.16 In a database search of studies in humans17, the results showed tulsi was effective in lowering fasting blood glucose and lowered cholesterol levels in patients over 40 years of age without altering the overall lipid profile.

Holy basil has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help lower blood pressure.18 A study19 in 2016 showed that holy basil and cloves were able to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure in an animal model compared to the control group.

Tulsi can help the appearance of skin and teeth

Tulsi can benefit the skin in several ways.20 It can help reduce eczema and psoriasis and treat staph infections on the skin. The essential oil has an antifungal and antibacterial effect.

As mentioned, the leaves contain ursolic acid, a favorite of the cosmetic industry as it helps to remove wrinkles and improve elasticity. Ayurvedic medicine uses tulsi in a topical application with black pepper to treat ringworm and as a paste on the skin to reduce irritation from insect bites.

Within Ayurvedic medicine, Tulsi has been called the ‘incomparable’, ‘nature’s mother’s medicine’ and the ‘queen of herbs’. The reference is to the wide range of health benefits that practitioners have found. This includes treating skin diseases, ringworm, and a variety of other health conditions that affect the respiratory, digestive, circulatory and neurological systems.

Holy basil extract can also help with the appearance of your teeth and gums. In a study published in 201422, researchers compared a holy basil mouthwash with sterile water and chlorhexidine. They found that the holy basil extract inhibited periodontal pathogens at different concentrations with the same effectiveness as chlorhexidine.

The researchers suggest that the antiplaque effect may have prophylactic benefits. However, Ayurvedic practitioners warn against chewing the leaves.23 The leaves contain high amounts of mercury and iron that are released when chewed.

They are also very acidic. Practitioners recommend starting your day with two to three fresh leaves on an empty stomach. However, this can lead to discoloration and abnormal wear of the tooth enamel on a daily basis.

Protects against infections

A review in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine24 called tulsi an “herb for all reasons”, noting that it is effective against “a range of human and animal pathogens” with broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, even suggesting it could be considered for a hand sanitizer, water purifier or for wound healing.

Tulsi is also one of the herbs in Ayush Kwath, an Ayurvedic herbal formula recommended by the Indian government to boost immunity and fight COVID-19.25 At the conclusion of a literature review by Ayush Kwath, the researchers suggested that:

“Ayush Kwath for its immunomodulatory, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, anti-atherosclerotic, hepato-protective, reno-protective properties; appears to be effective in immunoregulation for controlling viral infections such as COVID-19.”

In a paper published in Nature Plants in 2017, researchers suggest26 “While the plant kingdom continues to be an important source for chemical entities that support drug discovery, the rich traditions of herbal medicine have been developed through trial and error on human subjects over thousands of years.” years contain invaluable biomedical information just waiting to be discovered using modern scientific approaches.”

The use of traditional herbal medicines to treat respiratory diseases has received renewed interest during the pandemic. Herbal medicine is a powerful arsenal in the prevention and treatment of respiratory diseases such as the common cold, the flu and COVID-19. In China, herbal treatment is recommended for children and adults with COVID-19,27 and interest in traditional remedies is also growing in the US.

Herbs are unique in that they contain multiple beneficial components that work synergistically to promote well-being. Tulsi is believed to help relieve a variety of bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections,28 dermal infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus and other bacteria29, and respiratory infections such as pneumonia.30

May relieve stress, anxiety and boost cognitive function

After the pandemic, more than 80% of people surveyed reported having emotions related to long-term stress. The American Psychological Association report31 in February 2021 found that there was more stress than in previous years and many of those surveyed also reported feeling anxious, sad and angry.

The chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association warned, “Without addressing stress as part of a national recovery plan, we will face the mental health impacts of this pandemic for years to come.”32

One of the symptoms of high stress is drug use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention33 report that there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending April 2021. This represents a 28.5% increase in the same number of deaths over the same period of the year. year before.

A study34 isolated extracts of holy basil, which were tested in an animal model in which acute stress was induced using biochemical changes. Several of the compounds showed promising anti-stress effects when used independently, as they normalized serum hyperglycemia, corticosterone, creatinine kinase, and adrenal hypertrophy that occur in high-stress situations.

A second study35 tested tulsi against generalized anxiety disorders in a group of 35 participants with a mean age of 38.4 years. The results showed that the treatment significantly reduced anxiety disorders and associated stress and depression. The researchers concluded that holy basil could be a useful treatment and a “promising anxiolytic agent in the near future.”

Stress disorders can nearly triple the risk of developing dementia. The association appeared to be more pronounced in men than in women, except in women with post-traumatic stress disorder.36,37

Interestingly, one animal study38 showed that holy basil could help manage cognitive dysfunction induced in animals, improving their cognitive function in those undergoing the intervention. In a human study39, researchers looked at the effect tulsi would have on cognition and stress when 300 mg capsules of leaf extract were administered over 30 days.

The researchers compared the intervention group with a placebo group, measuring reaction time and error rates in testing, as well as salivary cortisol and using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. They found that those who took the leaf extract had potential cognitive enhancing properties.

Impressive herb but not a magic bullet

It is important to remember that while holy basil has an impressive list of health benefits, it is not a miracle cure. In general, you cannot depend on one supplement or one herb alone to maintain your health and well-being. It is equally important to implement other lifestyle strategies to support your health.

These include optimizing your diet, exercising regularly, minimizing your exposure to environmental toxins, and getting a good night’s sleep every night. There are several precautions to take when considering using holy basil as a supplement.

There are few to no studies evaluating the safety of holy basil supplementation during pregnancy; although holy basil may look beneficial for your health, there is no clear indication whether it is safe for your unborn child. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use holy basil

In addition, there have been two animal studies suggesting that taking it in large amounts may negatively affect fertility. A review of the effects on humans published in 202041 found that large amounts of holy basil can cause liver damage, nausea, diarrhea and a rapid heart rate.

Herbs also contain biologically active compounds, such as ursolic acid or eugenol in tulsi, which can react with compounds in other supplements or medications. Because it can be complicated to work with herbs, you will get the best results by working with an expert naturopath who can guide you in the right solutions for your circumstances.



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