Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is an Indian herb cultivated by Hindus as a “Sacred plant”. It’s been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine for its diverse healing properties. In the Ayurvedic system of health, Tulsi is believed to prolong longevity and is regarded as an “elixir of life”. How beautiful is that?
Tulsi is a tonic, for the body, mind and spirit. It’s considered to be an adaptogen. This means that it can improve adrenal system health and help to balance different processes within the body.
Adaptogens are truly unique, and are able to “adapt” (hence the term adaptogen) their role in the body depending upon the body’s individual needs. They actually work similarly to the concept of a thermostat. They are a normaliser, determining the right “balance” within the body and offering many positive benefits. They help to strengthen the body against stress, depression, anxiety and fatigue. They can promote a sense of calm, whilst boosting energy levels at the same time, but they do this gently and subtly, unlike the harsh buzz from caffeinated drinks such as coffee. They can also assist the body to expel toxic by-products.
Research studies undertaken over the past few decades have illuminated a range of health benefits associated with both the practice of Ayurvedic Medicine and the use of Tulsi. This excerpt is from the National Centre for Biotechnology Information in USA, Oct-Dec 2014(1)
The predominant cause of global morbidity and mortality is lifestyle-related chronic diseases, many of which can be addressed through Ayurveda with its focus on healthy lifestyle practices and regular consumption of adaptogenic herbs. Of all the herbs used within Ayurveda, tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn) is preeminent, and scientific research is now confirming its beneficial effects. There is mounting evidence that tulsi can address physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress through a unique combination of pharmacological actions. Tulsi has been found to protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals, and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint and exposure to cold and excessive noise. Tulsi has also been shown to counter metabolic stress through normalization of blood glucose, blood pressure and lipid levels, and psychological stress through positive effects on memory and cognitive function and through its anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties.
STRESS RELIEF & DEPRESSION: As mentioned above, Tulsi is an adaptogen which helps strengthen the body against stress, calms the nerves, may help lower blood pressure, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory. It helps to maintain normal levels of Cortisol (stress hormone) within the body. Vitamin C and other antioxidants in Tulsi help to minimise the stress caused by free radicals within the body and repair damage done. Tulsi has also been known to enhance sleep.
DETOXIFY: It has been found that Tulsi can help to protect the body from the stress placed upon it from industrial pollutants and heavy metals and can assist the body to expel toxic by-products.
RESPIRATORY ASSISTANCE: Tulsi helps to modulate the immune system, and it has both antitussive (may help to reduce coughing) and expectorant properties (may help to expel phlegm) due to the presence of Camphene, Eugenol and Cineole in it’s essential oils. It can be beneficial in aiding viral, bacterial and fungal infections of the respiratory system. Conditions such as asthma and lung disorders may benefit from Tulsi.
HEART HEALTH: The presence of the powerful anti-oxidant component in Tusli, Eugenol, assists with blood pressure and cholesterol control. In addition to Eugenol, the Vitamin C component assists to protect the heart from the damaging affects of free radicals.
KIDNEY HEALTH: Tusli is a diuretic and detoxifier, so is beneficial for kidney health. It may help to reduce the uric acid levels in the blood and may help to cleanse the kidneys.
CANCER & DIABETES: As a strong anti-oxidant and with anti-carcinogenic properties, Tusli may assist the body in protecting and fighting against cancer. Collectively the essential oils in Tusli may also aid the cells within the body that store and release insulin to function properly, and may help to lower blood sugar levels.
SKIN & HAIR HEALTH: Tulsi is also a purifier which has been known to help promote skin and hair health, and may even help with skin conditions due to it’s anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
What’s not to love about this beautiful Indian herb? There are a few ways to consume Tulsi but our preference is to brew the leaves as a loose leaf herbal drink. Alternatively the leaves from the Tusli plant may be chewed, or even mixed with coconut oil and applied topically to skin and hair.