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From Indianapolis, Indiana, USA:

A magazine I just got has a small item citing the Quarterly Review of Natural Medicine on a study which supposedly found the herb "holy basil leaf" useful in helping reduce blood glucose levels in Type 2 diabetics. Is there any foundation for this, and is this herb known by another name? No one I have asked seems to be familiar with it.


Answer from David Mendosa, a Writer on the Web

The herb called holy basil is technically Ocimum sanctum, a different variety or species from regular Italian basil. A PubMed search of all the articles in the professional literature between 1966 and the present for Ocimum and sanctum and diabetes came up with four studies. Three of them are studies that showed blood glucose lowering in rats. Of course, rats are different from humans.

All four of the studies were conducted in India, so they are not well known in this country. Two of the studies were also reported in obscure Indian journals.

A 1996 study of humans is apparently the basis of the report that you read. It is by P Agrawal, V Rai and RB Singh of the Department of Home Science, Azad University of Agriculture and Technology, Kanpur, India, and is entitled "Randomized placebo-controlled, single blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus," in the Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther, 1996 Sep, 34:9, 406-9.

The study says in part:

"We studied the effects of treatment with holy basil leaves on fasting and postprandial blood glucose and serum cholesterol levels in humans through randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover single blind trial. Results indicated a significant decrease in fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels during treatment with holy basil leaves compared to during treatment with placebo leaves. Fasting blood glucose fell by 21.0 mg/dl ... and postprandial blood glucose fell by 15.8 mg/dl.... The findings from this study suggest that basil leaves may be prescribed as adjunct to dietary therapy and drug treatment in mild to moderate NIDDM."


Original posting 1 Jul 1998
Posted to Alternative Therapies and Explanations


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