Ocimum gratissimum is a herb that is used in traditional medicine for its antimicrobial activity. A number of studies suggest that the herb also possesses central nervous system effects, and in this regard may have anxiolytic effects. Chemical analysis of leaf extracts of the herb have shown that it possesses a number of phytochemicals with antioxidant capacity. In particular, Ocimum gratissimum is high in flavonoids, and flavonoids have consistently been shown to protect from anxiety. Studies that have tested the antioxidant capacity of leaf extracts of Ocimum gratissimum have shown that its ability to scavenge free radicals is high. The high antioxidant potential of the herb may explain some of its central nervous system effects, particularly its anxiolytic effects. Anxiety is known to be caused in part by free radical damage to brain cells. By providing antioxidants that quench these free radicals, Ocimum gratissimum may inhibit the damaging effects of the free radicals, that are thought to be generated by the presence of stress.
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