6 Potential Benefits Of Holy Basil For Peripheral Neuropathy

Shruti Baikerikar

(B.E. Biotechnology, PG Clinical Research)
Independent Researcher, Health Writer & Founder of Salubrainous [Full Bio]

holy basil for peripheral neuropathy

Name: Holy Basil, Ocimum sanctum, Ocimum tenuiflorum , Tulsi, Sacred Basil
Active Compounds: Ocimumosides, Essential oil components like eugenol, saponins, flavonoids, triterpenoids, and tannins
Goes well with: Turmeric (Curcumin), Camellia sinesis
Number of scientific references: 24
Level of Evidence: Level I What is this?

Note:In pre-clinical studies, holy basil is found to lower oxidative stress and inhibit nerve pain in peripheral neuropathy. It also holds therapeutic benefits for diabetes that could aid in prevention of diabetic neuropathy.
However, these findings still need to be validated by adequate human studies.

Holy basil, or more commonly tulsi, is a herb that has been used for its healing powers for over 3000 years. From its ancient Indian medical use to modern day use, it has been applied to treat a range of diseases.

Most prominently, it behaves as an adaptogen (stress–regulator) and blood purifier. The plant is loaded with minerals and vitamins. Some of these are sodium, manganese, vitamin A and vitamin K.[1]

Indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, the herb is often referred to as the “Elixir of Life”. This is because it has been seen to aid conditions of metabolic disorder, cardiovascular problems, neurocognitive defects, epilepsy, asthma, infections etc. [2]

Almost all parts of the plant are used for medical purposes. The leaves, stem, flower, root, seeds and even whole plant all have varying applications. One of its bioactive components, eugenol is believed to be the driving force behind its therapeutic abilities.[3]

In this article, we take an in-depth look at how tulsi can aid in peripheral neuropathy.

Holy basil extracts are proven to lower neuropathic pain and relieve oxidative stress and inflammation; but these findings are limited to animal studies. Based on the evidence available to date, holy basil could potentially relieve stress associated with chronic nerve pain. Also topical application of holy basil essential oil can help relieve nerve pain.

Suggested Holy Basil/ Tulsi Supplements For Peripheral Neuropathy

Please consult a health practitioner before taking any health supplements.

Tulsi tea (Buy from Amazon or iHerb ) is also referred to as ‘liquid yoga’ and has anti-stress property that can help lower stress caused by nerve pain.

You can consider using holy basil essential oil topically or as a part of aromatherapy massage for nerve pain relief. (Read & Buy Tulsi essential oil for nerve pain relief)

Here are some quality tulsi supplements that you can opt for if advised by a doctor.

Organic India Tulsi-Holy Basil New Chapter Holy Basil Force Gaia Herbs, Holy Basil Leaf
holy basil whole leaf supplement

Image Credit: Organic India

tulsi extract 1

Image Credit:New Chapter, P&G

Image Credit: Gaia Herbs

These supplements are full spectrum leaf powder extracts of 2-3 medicinal varieties of Holy basil. These supplements contain supercritical and hydroethanolic extracts of holy basil leaves. Caution: Supplement contains beeswax. Avoid if allergic. These supplements contain supercritical and hydroethanolic extracts of tulsi leaves, standardized to 17mg eugenol and 7.6mg rosmarinic acid per serving.

Buy from Amazon

Buy from iHerb

Buy from Amazon

Buy from iHerb

Buy from Amazon

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6 Potential Benefits of Holy basil For Peripheral Neuropathy

Let’s explore the research conducted on holy basil’s benefits for peripheral neuropathy.

1. Holy basil extracts relieve neuropathic pain

Numerous animal studies have depicted how tulsi usage can reduce pain brought about by problems in the nervous system. In particular, a study carried out by Kaur and colleagues demonstrated how holy basil extracts are useful for pain relief.

The scientists observed that Tulsi acts as an antioxidant thereby reduces free radicle and other markers of oxidative damage. This lowered pain perception significantly. [4]

This was further confirmed when tulsi’s effects on an animal model of chronic constriction injury were studied. The use of holy basil attenuated neuropathic pain and brought down pain sensitivity. [5]

Active compounds such eugenol present in holy basil are responsible for this anti-neuropathic pain effect. Topical application of holy basil essential oil could be useful for relieving nerve pain. (Learn more about benefits of Tulsi Oil for neuropathic pain)

Quick gist: Pre-clinical studies indicate that tulsi extracts reduce neuropathic pain in peripheral neuropathy. Its antioxidant action is found to meditate this pain-relief effect.

2. It can help in prevention of diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathic pain arises in certain complicated cases of diabetes mellitus wherein the patient feels a distinct nerve pain. This condition has been found to be difficult to treat.

However, Tulsi is a potential natural and low-cost therapy for this condition. Its antidiabetic and antioxidant properties come in handy for treating this disease. [6]

Agarwal et al. observed through a randomised controlled human trial that holy basil effectively combatted common symptoms in patients with diabetes.

In the group studied, tulsi showed high efficacy when compared with a placebo in bringing down blood glucose levels and even cholesterol to an extent. [7]

Studies in animal models displayed that apart from acting as a hypoglycemic agent, dietary tulsi can increase levels of antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase and catalase and relieve oxidative stress in diabetes. [8]

In another experiment, it was observed that a composite leaf extract of medicinal plants four medicinal plants- Bengal quince, tulsi, neem and curry had insulin-like behaviour in a dose-dependent manner.

This means that the mixture could control diabetes and prevent neurological complications like diabetic neuropathy associated with it. [9]

Quick gist: Dietary tulsi can behave as a blood sugar lowering and an antioxidant boosting agent. These properties of Holy Basil can aid in the prevention of diabetic neuropathy.

3. Tulsi is a strong antioxidant

As I have mentioned above, Tulsi has awesome antioxidant boosting ability. What this means is that when harmful free radicals accumulate in the body, holy basil ingestion can accelerate their elimination.

While observing its action in an animal model of diabetes, holy basil extracts increased the levels of antioxidant enzymes like catalase and glutathione peroxidase.[10]

Lowering oxidative stress is one of the strongest measures that can be taken to prevent and reverse peripheral neuropathy.

The antioxidant property of tulsi protects from neurotoxicity arising from heavy metal contamination.[11]

The antioxidant potential of the herb is believed to be the cause behind its ameliorative effect. It reverses degeneration of the axons thereby repairing nerve damage. [12]

A detailed chemical analysis of the essential oil extracted from Tulsi revealed that its active compound eugenol exhibits strong oxidative stress reduction capability. [13]

Quick gist: Tulsi can increase the activity of antioxidant enzymes and drive away free radicals and other markers of oxidative stress. Therefore, it heals damage caused to nerves by these agents. Eugenol present in Tulsi essential oil can be beneficial for relieving nerve pain.

4. Holy basil reduces inflammation

Inflammation or swelling at an affected area often worsens neuropathic pain.

Kelm and colleagues carried out a bioassay of tusli extracts to identify which bioactives in this herb are responsible for its anti-inflammatory action.[14]

Here it was seen that the main components of the plant, cirsilineol, cirsimaritin, isothymusin, isothymonin and eugenol, all could inhibit the activity of inflammatory agents.

Further animal studies showed that tulsi when supplied in combination with the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), indomethacin not only brought down swelling effectively but had fewer side effects than normal NSAIDs. [15]

Quick gist: Active components present in tulsi have an anti-inflammatory action that can help combat inflammation in neuropathy. Pre-clinical studies suggest that it can improve the efficacy of NSAIDs and reduce the side effects associated with them.

5. Holy basil offers neuroprotection

Including holy basil in one’s diet can protect their nervous system from damage.

In animal models, eugenol extracted from tulsi is found to protect from toxin-induced neuropathy primarily by lowering oxidative stress and offering neuroprotection.[16]

When its alcoholic extract was tested in human neuronal cells, it was seen to protect against damage caused by oxidative damage.

It also inhibited lipid peroxidation, DNA damage, reactive oxygen species generation and depolarisation of mitochondrial membrane (all of these are changes that take place on a cellular level during oxidative stress).

From this experiment, scientists concluded that tulsi could support our natural antioxidant defence mechanism which prevents nerve cells from being damaged.[17]

Quick gist: Holy basil can protect nerves from damage through many mechanisms. It boosts antioxidant defence mechanism that acts against DNA damage and protects mitochondrial function.

6. Holy basil may help combat stress, anxiety and fatigue in neuropathy

A positive state of mind is key to a healthy body. Persistent stress, fatigue and anxiety are often linked to neuropathy. Tulsi has shown the ability to combat all these three problems.

Though not explored in patients with peripheral neuropathy, there are several studies that have confirmed the anti-stress effect of Holy basil

In a clinical trial, 35 participants facing general anxiety disorder were provided 500mg capsules of the compound twice daily. The results, based on a psychological rating scale showed that holy basil was a clinically effective mode of treating anxiety.[18]

Animal-based studies showed its ability to act against biochemical agents that brought about fatigue as well.[19]

Concerning stress, its efficacy was estimated through a clinical trial conducted in 2011. Individuals with general stress were treated with holy basil supplements or placebo for 6 weeks.

After six weeks of intervention, scores of symptoms such as forgetfulness, sexual problems of recent origin, the frequent feeling of exhaustion, and frequent sleep problems of recent origin decreased significantly in the trial group.

Improvement in stress related parameters with tulsi was observed to be 1.6 times that seen with the placebo.[20]

Quick gist: Clinical trials indicate that Tulsi can effectively lower signs of stress, fatigue and anxiety. This can be useful for mitigating stress, fatigue and sleep related disturbances associated with chronic neuropathic pain.

Dosage of Holy Basil For Peripheral Neuropathy

There is no exact dosage of Holy basil prescribed for peripheral neuropathy. If you have access to fresh holy basil leaves you can consider consuming it as a part of your diet.

Holy basil extracts are available as capsules, powder, tinctures etc.

A dose of 500 mg standardized holy basil leaf extract twice a day after meals is recommended for stress relief. This can be potentially useful if you are suffering from sleep disturbances and stress due to chronic neuropathic pain.

Holy basil tea is referred to as ‘liquid yoga’ owing to its calming effects. You can boil 5-6 fresh tulsi leaves can be boiled in water for ten minutes and then steeped as hot tea. It has a hot and slightly bitter taste. 1 cup a day should suffice.

If opting for readymade tea mixes, please buy from a trusted supplier.

You can consider using holy basil essential oil topically or as a part of aromatherapy massage for nerve pain relief. (Read & Buy Tulsi essential oil for nerve pain relief)

Please consult a health practitioner before taking Holy basil supplements.

Precautions with Holy Basil Use

There are no known serious side effects of holy basil, especially of standardized extracts. [21]

Certain sources suggest that holy basil has an anti-fertility effect based on the findings of animal studies.[22]

However, Ayurveda experts have refuted these findings; they state that based on the animal study one would have to consume 100,000 times the amount of the lowest dose considered safe for humans, to experience the anti-fertility effect. [23]

Substantially high doses of holy basil (40-80g) may exert an anti-fertility effect but it is not possible to consume those.

Tulsi has immunostimulatory properties and hence should be taken in limited amounts in autoimmune diseases.[24]

Avoid holy basil supplements during pregnancy and lactation. Please consult a health practitioner before taking tulsi supplements.

Conclusion

Holy basil benefits in peripheral neuropathy primarily by lowering oxidative stress and thereby protecting nerve health.

In animal studies, holy basil extracts are also proven to relieve nerve pain. However these findings are yet to be confirmed by conducting human studies.

Consumption of holy basil tea make help relieve stress and lower sleep disturbances associated with chronic neuropathic pain. (Read Top 15 Research-Backed Herbs For Peripheral Neuropathy)

Explore the potential science-backed benefits of Holy Basil (Tulsi) for peripheral neuropathy.

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