Holy Basil! Yes that’s actually what it’s called! Holy Basil (Ocimum Sanctum) is a plant that originated in India and is often used in Ayurvedic Medicine. It is a member of the mint family. It is considered a sacred plant by the Hindus and you will often see it planted around Hindu shrines. They refer to it as “Tulsi” or The “Uncomparable One”. Medicine is made from the leaves, stems and seeds. It’s also been referred to as the “Elixer of Life”. (Ok…if I didn’t want to try it before I sure do now!) It’s been grown in India for over 3000 years.
Holy Basil is used for the common cold, flu, bronchitis, influenza, headache, stomach upset, heart disease, malaria, earache, headache, asthma and diabetes. It is also used to improve memory and concentration. Tulsi is an important part of many Ayurvedic cough syrups as it acts as an expectorant helping to mobilize mucous in bronchitis and asthma.
Holy Basil leaves are also an known as adaptogens or anti-stress agents. which are used to help deal with “life stress”, which can cause a lot of inflammation in the body over time. It has been known to reduce hormones related to stress, mainly cortisol. Although it does not alter mood, it can help the body to better cope in times of stress. Even if you are feeling good you can chew 12 leaves twice a day to reduce the chances of stress. The leaves also help to purify the blood.
You can also sip Tulsi Tea (yes another tea for the shelf! I think I need a new cupboard!?) and also reap the benefits of the adaptogens via tea. It tastes a bit like cloves and is a nice way to enjoy the benefits of Tulsi.
Applied locally, basil juice has been shown to help with ringworm and other skin diseases due to it’s anti inflammatory action. It is also known as an anti histamine, which should be useful in allergy season which is just around the corner. Except for in Canada where it’s late March and still snowing? We won’t have to worry about allergy season for a while this year! But you lucky southern people…maybe get on the Holy Basil Train!
How does this Holy Basil work? Chemicals in Holy Basil are thought to decrease pain and swelling (inflammation). It acts as an anti histamine, anti inflammatory herb. In vitro Holy Basil has been shown to act as a COX 2 inhibitor, reducing inflammation. If you struggle with joint or muscle pain this may be a natural option worth trying.
Although I always recommend we eat wholesome whole food diets as our first means of improving health and reducing inflammation, sometimes when you are dealing with inflammation and pain, you do need to go a step further for additional support. Removing processed foods and sugars will go a LONG way in reducing inflammation in the body. Additionally some herbs such as Holy Basil can be helpful. Always consult with your doctor before trying anything herbal, especially if you are taking any medications. To be safe this is always a good idea.
Now let’s go find the “Elixer of Life!”