Despite the name, Holy Basil is more frequently associated with Buddhism than Christianity and has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine as an all-purpose healing herb. It can be confused with traditional sweet basil because of similarities in color and leaf structure, but is much more useful than its better-known counterpart, even if it isn’t quite as delicious in pesto or with tomatoes.
Also known as Tulsi, Holy Basil is another member of the adaptogen family and has long been used as an effective remedy for stress and anxiety. Animal studies with Tulsi shown that it is also effective as remedying a variety of other things. This power-packed herb has antidiabetic, antidemic, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, anticancer, antiulcer, hypocholesterolemic, hypoglycemic, immunostimulant, radioprotective, and other properties. Tulsi has been noted as a good preventative herb to take, as it can help prevent or slow the onset of negative health issues.
A great deal of Tulsi’s power comes from its ability to reduce the prevalence of corticosterones in the blood. These compounds contribute to the creation of cortisol and other stress hormones in the body, so having high levels of them can be harmful. Lower levels of corticosterones are associated with improved mental clarity and memory, and can reduce the long-term risk of age-related mental disorders. Conversely, having high levels of these hormones come with high-stress lifestyles and can lead to health problems such as weight gain, inability to sleep, depression, fatigue, and other conditions. In animal studies, scientists have reported that Tulsi’s effect is comparable to that of the antidepressant desipramine. For those with mild forms of anxiety and depression, Tulsi could help mitigate those effects.
One of the main reasons that Tulsi has these effects is because of two compounds found in the plant: eugenol and triterpenoic acids. Eugenol is present in many plants and its scent can elevate mood. Scientific studies have also shown that eugenol in particular helps combat stress and mental clarity. The triterpenoic acid acids found in Tulsi effectively improve the body’s stress response, which can also support cognition and decision-making.
In addition the it’s stress-fighting and cognition-supporting properties, Tulsi is also a powerful antioxidant that can help you stay healthy and on top of your game. Several studies have evaluated the effects of Tulsi on different types of toxicity, like heavy metal poisoning, and its general effect on the immune system, and found that Tulsi supports immune and detoxification response in addition to providing protection against toxic compounds. This is important because toxic compounds can impair your nerves, cognition, and physical function, and are widely found in cities and industrial areas; most of us are exposed to toxins on a regular basis, and Tulsi can help support our natural detoxification processes.
Like most other leafy green things, Tulsi is a low-cost, delicious, safe, and will help support cognition, detoxification, and general health. Even if you’re not into kale, Tulsi may turn out to be the leafy green that you love to eat (and it actually is a nice addition to pesto as well!).
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