In the recently released Lego Batman movie, the film starts with Batman’s voice describing the opening credits. When he gets to one particular production company logo he says something like, “I don’t know what these guys do, but they have a really cool logo.” I wonder if something similar doesn’t happen when people see Holy Basil listed an an ingredient in an herbal combination. “I don’t know what it does, but it has a cool sounding name.” Well, if that is the case, it is time that I, AdaptoGenie, educate you about this powerful and versatile adaptogen.
Holy Basil or Tulsi is one of the most potent herbs alive. The name “Tulsi” means “The Incomparable One” because of its unique health benefits. The herb was a staple of Hindu mythology and considered sacred by the Indian royalty.
Also known as Ocimum sanctum L. Holy Basil is a member of the mint family and is native to Southeast Asia. It has a history within Ayurvedic medicine and thus has been used for a myriad of conditions. It’s versatility affirms it’s nickname as the “Queen of Herbs.” Here are just a few of the health benefits of Holy Basil.
As an adaptogen, Holy Basil helps your body adapt to stress and promotes mental balance, but scientific research also shows that holy basil has certain pharmacological properties that help your mind cope with many types of stress.
Holy basil has been shown to increase endurance and lower stress levels in both human and animal studies. Animals who had holy basil leaf extracts and went through environment induced-stress scenarios demonstrated
- enhanced metabolism
- improved swimming time
- less tissue damage
- lower stress levels in loud environments
Humans experienced reduced:
- sexual problems
- sleep problems
According to the Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine, holy basil has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties.
Holy basil is also high in anti-oxidants and helps your body detox. Studies show that holy basil can protect your body against toxic chemicals. It may also reduce the growth of cancerous cells.
Holy basil helps to strengthen the body’s immune system, allowing it to fight off opportunistic parasites such as candida, viruses and staph infections.
Holy Basil extracts have been used to boost wound healing because the plant has the following properties:
- analgesic (a painkiller)
Holy basil increases your wound’s breaking strength, healing time, and contraction. Breaking strength refers to how much pressure or weight a wound can take before it breaks.
Lower blood sugar
This could be good news if you or someone you know suffers with type 2 diabetes. Holy basil can help reduce your blood sugar levels. Animal and human trials have shown that holy basil can help prevent symptoms of diabetes such as:
- weight gain
- excess insulin in the blood
- high cholesterol
- insulin resistance
According to the research, rats who received holy basil extract saw a 24 percent decrease in blood sugar after 30 days.
Control Cortisol Levels:
One of the key benefits that many adaptogenic herbs offer is their ability to lower and stabilize cortisol levels. High cortisol drains the precursers to major hormones such as testosterone, progesterone and estrogen.
As a result, the body becomes sex hormone deficient. This process rapidly accelerates the aging process and makes life much less enjoyable.
Healthy individuals have stable cortisol levels that naturally spike in the morning and then level off and stay consistently low during the day before tapering at night. This allows us to wake up with energy in the morning and maintain that energy until nightfall when we should naturally be gearing down and getting ready for sleep.
Stable cortisol levels result in improved mental clarity and memory. The individual feels as though they are less agitated and anxious and therefore able to perform better.
With all this going for it, it’s easy to see why Holy Basil is so highly regarded by ayurvedic practitioners and why it is a key component of many herbal formulas. Like Batman, Holy Basil may disguise itself as a mild mannered garden plant, but don’t be deceived, this little herb has superpowers!
- Cohen, M. M. (2014, October-December). Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 5(4), 251-259.
- Yates, Beverly. Holy basil: An overview of the research and clinical indications. (n.d.).
- Wagner H, Nörr H, Winterhoff H. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine. 1994 Jun;1(1):63-76. PMID: 23195818
- Garabadu D, Shah A, Ahmad A, Joshi VB, Saxena B, Palit G, Krishnamurthy S. Eugenol as an anti-stress agent: modulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and brain monoaminergic systems in a rat model of stress. Stress. 2011 Mar;14(2):145-55. PMID: 21034296
- Hussain EHMA, Jamil K, Rao M. Hypoglycaemic, hypolipidemic and antioxidant properties of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum linn) on streptozotocin induced diabetes in rats. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry. 2001;16(2):190-194.
- Pattanayak P, Behera P, Das D, Panda SK. Ocimum sanctum Linn. A reservoir plant for therapeutic applications: An overview. Pharmacognosy Reviews. 2010;4(7):95-105.
- Prakash P, Gupta N. Therapeutic uses of Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi) with a note on eugenol and its pharmacological actions: a short review. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005 Apr;49(2):125-31. PMID: 16170979
- Baliga MS, Jimmy R, Thilakchand KR, Sunitha V, Bhat NR, Saldanha E, Rao S, Rao P, Arora R, Palatty PL. Ocimum sanctum L (Holy Basil or Tulsi) and its phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2013;65 Suppl 1:26-35. PMID: 23682780
- Agarwal, C., Sharma, N. L., & Gaurav, S. S. (2015, January). Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) leaf extract enhances specific cognitive parameters in healthy adult volunteers: A placebo controlled study. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 1(4), 180-183.
- Bhattacharyya, D., Sur, T. K., Jana, U., & Debnath, P. K. (2008). Controlled programmed trial of Ocimum sanctum leaf on generalized anxiety disorders. Nepal Medical College Journal, 10, 176-179.
http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/12818/4/IJTK 10(4) 668-671.pdf
- Ocimum tenuiflorum (holy basil). (n.d.).
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