Tulsi looks pretty good for her age, doesn’t she? Delicate, and unassuming, yet she’s been around for over 3000 years and is still proving her wonders. She’s even mentioned (1) in the collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns called the Rig Veda from around 1500 BC. (2) Also known as “Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum), she is one of India’s most essential herbal allies, and bears the noble titles of the “incomparable one,” and “Queen of Herbs.”
Despite the awareness of its herbal prowess in India, it’s only since the middle of the 20th century that western scientific interest began to bolster the traditional knowledge. Modern pharmacological studies have established sounds scientific basis for “proven” therapeutic use. Love it when modern science proves ancient medicine.
What do you need to know about Tulsi (Holy Basil)?
It is our queen companion for the trials of modern living. The Master Adaptogen. The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine writes truthfully, how modern life is fraught with stress. Cellular use and the internet have exponentially increased the “pace of our life so that many people feel that they are now drowning in an ever-expanding ocean of data, while industrial agriculture has burdened us with increasing exposure to unhealthy processed and packaged food and a plethora of pesticides, food packaging materials and other toxic industrial chemicals.”
How do we keep up with this onslaught?
Turns out Tulsi is good for stress and anxiety, good for detoxing environmental heavy metals, fights cancer, and even protects our teeth.
1. Psychological Therapeutic Properties:
Tulsi is quite the competitor with traditional anti-depressent herbs like St John’s Wort. And there’s an increasing amount of evidence that Tulsi plays her trump card in multiple ailments: physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress. Tulsi fights for bringing balance in the face of 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” – JOAIM. Perhaps this is why Tulsi has earned the nickname “Liquid Yoga”
2. Cancer: Tulsi has been found to have chemopreventive and radioprotective properties, and it reduces DNA damage in this disease. Its various and plentiful phytochemicals prevent “chemical-induced skin, liver, oral, and lung cancers”. Tulsi mediates by “increasing the antioxidant activity,” thereby “altering the gene expressions, inducing apoptosis, and inhibiting angiogenesis and metastasis.” (3) Tulsi naturally protects organs and tissues from chemical stress, industrial pollutants and heavy metals, and physical stress from “prolonged physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint and exposure to cold and excessive noise” Great news.
3. Biofilm and AntiFungal Protperties:
Holy basil is also high in vitamin K (4) (one of the essential fat soluble vitamins), which has been getting more press for its crucial role in for heart health (5) and bone health. (6) Holy basil fights bacteria in the mouth, most often associated with bad breath, tartar, plaque, and cavities, by protecting the natural biofilms in the body. In its essential oil form or OSEO, Tulsi has shown significant antifungal activity against Candida and other fungal infections.
Contraindications: Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid it, there’s not enough study to prove its safety at these times. In addition, any who plan to undergo the knife for surgery should also avoid taking holy basil for a two weeks or more before their operation: it may affect blood clotting.