While related to the more well-known Ocimum basilicum, the basil used in cooking, Holy Basil is a medicinal herb used to make teas and extracts. Considered a Sacred plant in India, old world medicinal practices such as in Ayurveda, Greek, Roman, and Siddha used Holy Basil to counteract stress and anxiety. It is considered an adaptogen since it does not affect mood but instead affect functions of the body.
The Rama and Krishna varieties share the interchangeable botanical names Ocimum tenuiflorum and Ocimum sanctum; the two Latin names are synonymous with each other. They are, however, more like fraternal twins: The Rama variety is a short, annual, heavily flowered plant originally introduced to the U.S. as “Holy Basil”. It is the most common type found in cultivation in the U.S. and is known for its cooling and mellow flavor. While not the most potent of the three varieties, it does have medicinal value and is considered to be the best tasting. Krishna has purple-tinged leaves and makes a delicious tea. It is the the most potent of the three varieties, testing highest in concentrations of adaptogenic triterpenoic acids, which affect the body’s response to stress.
Vana has its own Latin name: Ocimum gratissimum. It is the original wild bush basil. Vana is very high in eugenol, an analgesic and antiseptic. Its natural habitat ranges throughout India and across North Africa and down into East Africa. Of the three varieties, it is the most fragrant.
Holy Basil Leaf, Rama & Krishna (Ocimum tenuiflorum/Ocimum sanctum): Holy Basil may modify glucose regulation.
Holy Basil Leaf, Vana (Ocimum gratissimum): Not to be used during pregnancy.