Healing Herb: Holy Basil
Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), commonly known in the Hindi language as tulsi, is quite possibly the most revered medicinal herb on the planet. Holy basil is a plant that has violet flowers and blossoms; the stems are green, but sometimes have a purple tinge. Medicinal preparations are made from the leaves, stems, and seeds of the plant. Holy basil is often used for cooking Thai dishes and its spicy flavor has influenced the common name “hot basil.” This type of basil is much spicier than the other basil varieties.
Interestingly, the Hindus worship holy basil; the plant is considered the “Mother Medicine of Nature.” It’s been revered since ancient times as an herb that can promote a healthy body, mind, and spirit. The sacred plant is often planted around Hindu shrines. The name tulsi means “the incomparable one.”
But in Western medicine holy basil is perhaps most valued as an adaptogen (a substance that helps the body adapt to stress). The plant has been used to combat the negative effects of stress in the body, maintain stable blood sugar levels, and promote longevity.
Excellent for qualities of: Adaptogenic, Anti-arthritic, Anti-coagulant, Anti-diabetic, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-pyretic (prevents itching), Antidiarrheal, Antimicrobial (including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and more), Antioxidant, Antitussive (treats cough), Liver-, brain-. and heart-protective.
What Are Adaptogens?
Holy basil is an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens are substances found in plants that help boost the body’s resilience in dealing with stressors. Because the effects of stress on the body play such a huge role in the aging process, adaptogens are also considered to have anti-aging properties.
They may perform many different functions including:
- Balancing hormones such as cortisol (the stress hormone)
- Improving brain function
- Boosting the immune system
- Lowering inflammation
- Improving energy levels
- Improving organ and bodily system (such as GI) function