Holy Basil: An Ayurvedic Medicine For Skin Diseases

Dr. Morgan Camp M.D.

IN BRIEF

If you're only familiar with the basil that goes on pizza, then you'll love learning more about holy basil! Also known as tulsi, this Ayurvedic herb does beautiful things for your skin!

You may already know this, but your skin is actually an organ. Your body’s largest organ, in fact. And unfortunately, our skin goes through a lot throughout life. Constant exposure to the elements can cause harm to your skin over time. As a result, skin can become prone to a host of different diseases. This is one reason it’s so important to utilize solutions that can protect our skin on a number of levels, and many turn to Ayurvedic healing to find some of these natural solutions. 

An Introduction to Ayurveda

According to the Ayurvedic Institute, “Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs.” Ayurveda is a healing tradition from the Vedic culture of India, and the word comes from the Sanskrit language, meaning “science of life.” Dating back thousands of years, Ayurveda is believed to be one of the oldest healing disciplines, and was primarily taught through oral tradition, passed down from masters to students. This means that much of the knowledge of Ayurveda has been lost to us, particularly in Western cultures. You can find some evidence of Ayurveda in Western practices, however, like in homeopathy. (1)

What is Holy Basil?

Holy Basil, scientifically named ocimum sanctum, is an important Ayurvedic herb. In fact, it has such importance in Ayurvedic healing that holy basil is referred to as the “queen of herbs.” It can be ingested in many forms, including brewed in teas or by chewing the leaves. According to researchers, “emerging science on tulsi, which reinforces ancient Ayurvedic wisdom, suggests that tulsi is a tonic for the body, mind, and spirit that offers solutions to many modern-day health problems.” Furthermore, “Tulsi is perhaps one of the best examples of Ayurveda’s holistic lifestyle approach to health.” 

This can be seen in the wide variety of ailments that holy basil can be used to treat. Holy basil is “credited with giving luster to the complexion, sweetness to the voice and fostering beauty, intelligence, stamina, and a calm emotional disposition.” If that wasn’t enough, holy basil is said to help “anxiety, cough, asthma, diarrhea, fever, dysentery, arthritis, eye diseases, otalgia, indigestion, hiccups, vomiting, gastric, cardiac and genitourinary disorders, back pain, skin diseases, ringworm, insect, snake and scorpion bites, and malaria.” (2)

Holy Basil and Skin Diseases

While holy basil can be used for a whole host of ailments, it has a variety of uses for skin care.  Dr. Ashutosh Gautam who is the Clinical Operations and Coordination Manager at Baidyanath, an Ayurvedic medicine store, explains why it is that holy basil is so good for the skin. It’s the “linoleic acid,” says Dr. Gautam, “which is extremely beneficial for skin.” 

We have talked about some of the common ways to ingest holy basil, but you can also use pastes or scrubs made from it for your skincare as well. 

It’s not just the linoleic acid that is so good for the skin. Holy basil has antibacterial properties, especially in its leaves. Furthermore, holy basil is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiprotozoal, antimalarial, anthelmintic, and anti-inflammatory. These qualities make holy basil an adaptogen herb; a substance that helps the body react to stress. Because of this, when you use holy basil on your skin, you are not just combating the skin disease that is there, but also teaching the body how to react to further occurrences–which can help you in fighting it off next time around.

Tulsi tastes hot and bitter and is said to penetrate the deep tissues,” according to researchers, giving your skin a deep cleanse, not just a surface-level clean. 

(2, 3, 4)

Acne

Mixing holy basil with other ingredients, like turmeric, into a paste can be great for breakouts. Apply the paste to the pimples to relieve the redness and to help prevent future breakouts. It’s recommended that you leave the paste on for about 20 minutes, before washing it off with cold water. Furthermore, drinking holy basil tea regularly may also aid in preventing future breakouts. (3, 5)

Clogged Pores

First, grind the leaves of the holy basil into a fine powder. Then, rub this powder into your skin. It provides exfoliation, helping to unclog your pores. If the idea of dry powder against your skin seems daunting, you can mix it with a little water, applying it like a face mask for 10-15 minutes. (5)

Skin Infections

Holy basil leaves have antibiotic properties, and so are great to use to combat skin infections. They help block the growth of bacteria like E. coli and bacillus anthracis. Take powdered basil leaves and mix them with sesame oil, then bring the mixture to a boil. (5)

Scars and Blemishes

If holy basil is mixed with rosewater or sandalwood into a paste, it can be used to reduce the look of scars or smooth out the skin tone when used on dark spots. (4)

Bug Bites

Holy basil has a high content of eugenol, which gives it a strong, clove-like aroma. This scent tends to repel insects, such as mosquitoes. Using lotions with holy basil or ingesting it regularly could help to lessen bug bites that irritate the skin. (2)

Ringworm

Holy basil leaves really have no end of benefits. The powdered leaf mixed with lemon juice has been said to be an effective treatment for ringworm. (6)

Eczema

Some studies have suggested that consuming holy basil leaves regularly could help ease the symptoms of eczema, although there have not been any human trials. (6)

Overall Skin Health

Holy basil is high in ursolic acid. This acid means that when used on the skin, holy basil can help to restore the collagen in the skin, which is what gives skin its strength and elasticity. Ursolic acid also works to block inflammatory enzymes in the body. (7)

How To Take Your Holy Basil

There are numerous ways to both ingest and apply holy basil to help with skin diseases. But you may not have time to be grinding and mixing your own exfoliants or skin creams, and buying a variety of different products can get expensive. 

That’s why Be Serene is a perfect option for many people. Holy basil is just one of five natural ingredients to help with things such as anxiety and stress. Be Serene has the daily recommended amount of holy basil, so you can clear your skin and help your psychological health at the same time. (8)

SOURCES

  1. https://www.ayurveda.com/resources/articles/ayurveda-a-brief-introduction-and-guide
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296439/
  3. https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/18-benefits-of-tulsi-facts-you-must-know-about-holy-basil-1239318?amp=1&akamai-rum=off
  4. https://iheart-nature.com/blogs/skincare/tulsi-skin-benefits  
  5. https://www.deccanherald.com/amp/content/667464/try-tulsi-skin-detox.html
  6. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-benefits-of-tulsibasil-for-skin-hair-and-health/#WhatAreTheBenefitsForMySkin?
  7. https://organicindiausa.com/blog/topical-tulsi-for-skincare/
  8. https://www.be-serene.com/be-serene/ 

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About Dr. Morgan Camp M.D.

Dr. Morgan is an expert in Functional and Integrative Medicine with a Strong Emphasis in stress related illnesses like anxiety and insomnia. In addition to his 20 years of work in Functional Medicine, he has expanded his practice to include work on the deeper aspects of our being that point to the root cause of our illnesses working with Mind Body Wellness, Energy Medicine, and Healing with Consciousness.
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