Known as the “Queen of the Herbs,” holy basil has been used traditionally in Indian herbal medicine for over 3000 years1. Holy basil has a few more properties than the basil you cook meals with; it is considered to be anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, analgesic, and adaptogenic1. The herb is also used to aid in digestion and limit cholesterol synthesis2. In a study where fish were fed holy basil extract for 30 days, some interesting observations were made. The treated fish showed an increased growth rate and complete resistance to a strain of streptococcal bacteria that killed every untreated fish3. In another study where hens were fed a diet with holy basil, the yolks of the eggs they laid had reduced saturated fatty acid levels4. The eggs were better because they also contained more α-linolenic acid, which is one of two essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce on its own4. Holy basil has proven to be beneficial in the diet of our animal friends, therefore it could be good for our biology as well. Our bees love the organic holy basil we grow in our fields in Cape Elizabeth. We harvest the leaves and flowering tops and use it fresh in our tinctures and also dry it for brewing a tisane.
1 Rastogi, S., Kalra, A., Gupta, V., Khan, F., Lal, R. K., Tripathi, A. K., & ... Shasany, A. K. (2015). Unravelling the genome of Holy basil: an "incomparable" "elixir of life" of traditional Indian medicine. BMC Genomics, 16(1), 1-14. doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1640-z
2 Ngamakeue, N., & Chitprasert, P. (2016). Encapsulation of Holy Basil Essential Oil in Gelatin: Effects of Palmitic Acid in Carboxymethyl Cellulose Emulsion Coating on Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activities. Food & Bioprocess Technology, 9(10), 1735-1745. doi:10.1007/s11947-016-1756-4
3 Panprommin, D., Kaewpunnin, W., & Insee, D. (2016). Effects of Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) Extract on the Growth, Immune Response and Disease Resistance against Streptococcus agalactiae of Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). International Journal Of Agriculture & Biology, 18(4), 677-682. doi:10.17957/IJAB/15.0143
4 Kirubakaran, A., Narahari, D., Ezhil Valavan, T., & Sathish Kumar, A. (2011). PHYSIOLOGY, ENDOCRINOLOGY, AND REPRODUCTION: Effects of f!axseed, sardines, pearl millet, and holy basil leaves on productic traits of layers and fatty acid composition of egg yolks. Poultry Science, 90(1), 147-156. doi:10.3382/ps.2008-00152