Ajaka, bai gka-prow, bai gkaprow, baranda, basilici herba, brinda, common basil, garden basil, green holy basil, hot basil, Indian basil, kala tulasi, kala tulsi, kemangen manjari, Krishna tulsi, krishnamul, Manjari tulsi, Ocimum sanctum, Ocimum sanctum seed oil, Ocimum tenuiflorum, orientin, parnasa, patra-puspha, Rama tulsi, red holy basil, sacred basil, sacred purple basil, shayama tulsi, St. Joseph's wort, suvasa tulasi, Thai basil, thulasi, thulsi, Trittavu, tulasi, tulshi, tulsi, tulsi chajadha, vicenin, Vishnu priya.
Not included in this review: Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum).
The two primary types of basil are closely related: Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil), which is a staple of Italian and Asian cooking, and Ocimum sanctum (holy basil), which has a religious use or origin in different cultures. Both forms are native to India and Southeast Asia, although they are grown around the world.
Holy basil has been used extensively for its medicinal values by a number of cultures. Chinese medicine uses holy basil for stomach spasms, kidney conditions, to promote blood circulation, and to treat snake and insect bites.
In India, holy basil is known as tulsi, which translates as "incomparable one." The plant, which is considered sacred, is used extensively in religious ceremonies and is believed to protect any home where it is grown. According to Ayurvedic tradition, tulsi is one of the best herbs to prepare the heart and mind for spiritual practices, resolve colds and flu, treat various skin conditions, and reduce fever.
Modern research on holy basil suggests that holy basil contains powerful antioxidants and it may be hepatoprotective (liver protecting). Also, preliminary clinical studies are investigating holy basil's effect on ulcers and blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. Holy basil has generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status in the United States.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Holy basil may have blood sugar lowering effects and may be useful as an adjunct to dietary therapy and drug treatment in mild to moderate diabetes mellitus. It is unknown whether common culinary basil (Ocimum basilicum) would have similar effects. More research is warranted.