Holy Basil – The Elixir of Life

If you are like me, I have favorite teas. Tulsi tea with a little lemon and ginger is one of those great teas that help me de-stress and putting one foot in front of the other when I feel overwhelmed. Tulsi, commonly known as holy basil, is a treasured sacred medicinal plant of India. It’s known to ease pain, improve breathing (like for asthma), and reduce inflammation. It is a strong antioxidant too.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like we have more stress nowadays than we did 20 years ago. The stress may be mental, emotional, behavioral or physical. The stress makes you feel like you can’t cope with your situation. As a result, you may feel beat up, burned out, tense, irritated, overwhelmed, foggy in the brain or just plain mad. You may not (probably don’t) sleep well either.  If I’ve described you, then it’s safe to say you need some kind of stress soother before illness develops.  Holy basil may just be what you need, but don’t take my word for it, let’s look at some science.

Holy Basil has a stabilizing effect on blood sugar and cholesterol ratios. Animal models have shown benefits to post-prandial blood glucose levels and fasting blood glucose. Because of its remarkable effect on cortisol secretion, glucose regulation and lipids, Holy Basil is  included in GlucoScript, my formula for blood sugar support. It is protective to the liver as well. As an aside, this herb has demonstrated antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Researchers studied holy basil’s effect on stress reduction in a recent randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 158 highly stressed individuals. Participants had  the classic symptoms like frequent headaches, exhaustion, heart palpitations, gastrointestinal problems, irritability, and a habit of avoiding people; they also reported insomnia, forgetfulness and low sex drive.

Half the group received 1,200 mg holy basil (tulsi) extract, while the rest of them received an inactive dud pill (placebo).  After 6 weeks, and no other variables, it became clear that the tulsi group showed symptom improvement.  Depending on the particular issue, participants enjoyed 33 to 90% improvements as compared to the placebo group.

Adaptogenic herbs give your body an adrenal vacation. Holy basil (tulsi) in particular allows you to rest in peace (and I mean that literally, not as in death)! The internal homeostasis and ensuing “peace” occurs because adaptogenic herbs interact at the level of your HPA axis which stands for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

The HPA axis is like Interstate 95 in your body, it’s a freeway that connects your pituitary to your thyroid and adrenal glands (and more).  It runs north and south. The HPA freeway signals your body so you can run faster when you see a big snake next to you! Instead of thinking holy moly, think holy basil (but still run like the dickens!)

What about your brain? Research suggests that tulsi helps maintain catecholamines like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Serotonin levels may improve too.

All of these neurotransmitters are primary targets by prescription antidepressants!

So if you are experiencing melancholy, a cup of Holy Basil tea makes good sense. Instead of coffee all day, try tea!  Holy basil (tulsi) can work within minutes on those days when you’ve tried yoga, meditation and praying and you still want to smack someone. Try it, you’ll see what I mean.