The Relaxing Effects of Holy Basil


If you came across an herb with the not-so-humble name of "holy basil," you might guess that somewhere in the world it is highly valued for its mind, body and spirit benefits – and you would be correct.

Holy basil is one of India’s sacred plants, where it is also known as Tulsi, meaning "The Incomparable One."

Ocimum sanctum, or holy basil, is a relative of the sweet basil many of us use for cooking, and is part of the mint family of plants. For thousands of years, holy basil has been used medicinally by Greeks, Roman and Ayurveda practitioners because of its antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.

Modern research examines the use of holy basil as an adjunct treatment with radiation therapy and for diabetes. However, much of the significant data points to holy basil’s potential to help the body manage stress and relax.

How Holy Basil Works

Most of us are aware that chronic stress has an ill-effect on our long-term health. It can compromise the nervous, digestive, and immune systems, and lead to psychological problems such as anxiety or depression. It is vital that our bodies rest from their stress response, and holy basil facilitates that relaxation.

As an adaptogen, holy basil works by enhancing our body’s natural reaction to emotional and physical stress. It does not alter mood, but helps the body keep stress hormone levels reduced, especially the hormone corticosterone. Lower amounts of stress hormones are correlated with clarity of thought, better memory and reduced risk of mental disorders.

Supplement Considerations

Three components of holy basil that are critical for stress relief are eugenol, caryophyllene and the triterpenoic acids. Because their chemical structures differ, beneficial amounts of each are derived by different extraction methods. A good supplement will contain these active ingredients from a variety of extraction processes.

So, if you are interested in using holy basil as a dietary supplement, look for one that contains components from three extraction methods: alcohol, supercritical (CO2) and distillation. Or, discuss what to buy with an herbalist.

If you are taking any medications or are pregnant, consult with your doctor before adding herbs to your dietary regimen.

Source: Medicine Hunter


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