If you have been trying to fight arthritis the natural way, there may be another weapon you can add to your arsenal. A study presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester, England, revealed basil can help to relieve arthritis symptoms.

Basil is rich in anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Two varieties of this herb, Ocimum tenuiflorum Linn and Ocimum americanum Linn, which are commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, have been scientifically proven to reduce inflammation and swelling. The researchers suggest that these properties make them potential treatments for arthritis.

In the study, 24 hours after treatment with O. tenuiflorum swelling was reduced by up to 73 percent. Treatment with O. americanum was similarly effective. The results were even more impressive as these two herbs were as effective as diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug used by many people suffering from arthritis.

"Our results supported the use of these traditional treatments in inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis," said Vaibhav Shinde from Poona College of Pharmacy, Pune, India, who presented the study at the conference. "And we will now carry out more detailed evaluation of the plants for active compounds which could be developed into new medicines."

The results of this study provide more support for using basil to treat arthritis, among other conditions. A previous study found that the active compound responsible for basil's therapeutic benefits was eugenol. In mouse studies, eugenol was able to help relieve pain. Another potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant found in basil is ursolic acid.

How to Use Basil to Relieve Arthritis Symptoms

Various parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine systems such as Ayurvedic - the leaves, stem, flower, roots, seeds, and the whole plant as well.

There are over 40 varieties of basil, and it's not yet known whether they are all equally effective in treating conditions such as arthritis. If possible, try to use the varieties mentioned in the Pune study - Ocimum tenuiflorum Linn and Ocimum americanum Linn.

You can add basil daily to your meals, but for therapeutic purposes, you may need a higher dose. Consider taking a supplement such as Holy Basil, which contains extract from the leaves of the Ocimum tenuiflorum variety (also called Ocimum sanctum). It's available in 500 mg capsules and you take one to two capsules twice daily.

More about Ayurvedic Medicine

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), Ayurveda, or Ayurvedic medicine, is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. This holistic form of complementary and alternative treatment aims to restore the natural balance of the body, mind and spirit to prevent and cure disease.

Ayurvedic medicine incorporates several methods to cleanse and restore the body's balance, including herbal remedies, dietary changes, yoga, massage, exercise, and meditation.

If you're considering Ayurvedic medicine to treat your arthritis, you should seek out a qualified professional who has been practicing for at least a few years. Using any of the remedies incorrectly - including herbs generally considered safe such as basil - may cause harm, including poisoning, or interaction between herbs or herbs and prescription medications.


Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain press release, "Basil Plants Have Anti-Arthritic Properties." http://www.rpsgb.org/pdfs/pr090909sabs132.pdf

Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 2005 Apr; 49(2):125-31. "Therapeutic uses of Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi) with a note on eugenol and its pharmacological actions: a short review." Prakash P., Gupta N.