Holy Basil / Ocimum sanctum
Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, is a must-have in any herbal medicine cabinet! It has been revered as one of India’s most sacred and powerful plants for over 3,000 years, and it holds a sacred place in the Ayurvedic tradition as an herb that helps to nourish a person’s growth and promote long life.
In Sanskrit the name Tulsi means “beyond compare” and it is also referred to as an elixir of life; the mother medicine of nature and the queen of herbs in the Hindi culture. Besides being used in daily ritual, it is often planted at the entrances of homes and temples. It was chosen to be planted around the Taj Mahal, not only for its sacred properties, but for its anti-pollutant and antioxidant properties in an attempt to minimize air pollution.
Like many herbs, Holy Basil is a perfect example of a plant that holds ancient knowledge and provides us with solutions to modern problems. Similar to its Ayurvedic companion Turmeric, Holy Basil offers such a wide variety of medicinal uses, it will have you asking, “What can’t Holy Basil do?” It is most commonly used as an adaptogenic herb, which when taken long term, can help balance cortisol levels and support our body’s response to the daily stressors of day-to-day life.
Holy Basil is fantastic for soothing the nervous system and is gentle enough to be taken daily or taken as needed. There have been many clinical studies showing it to be effective in reducing overall anxiety levels. It is also shown to have a positive effect on cognitive health, enhancing cerebral circulation and memory. It’s a great herb to consider for brain fog and pairs well with other cerebral stimulants such as Rosemary, Ginkgo Biloba, or Bacopa. Holy Basil can also be helpful in cases of stuck or stagnant digestion, can normalize blood sugar, and can be protective against cardiovascular disease.
Native to India and Southeast Asia, Holy Basil is in the same plant family as culinary basil and mints, and it thrives here in the Texas heat. It makes a lovely addition to your culinary herb gardens, smells wonderful, and its lovely purple flowers attract bees and pollinators alike! It can easily be harvested fresh or dried for a tasty herbal beverage.
At Peoples Rx, we carry the Organic India brand Tulsi tea blends, as well as Gaia’s Holy Basil capsules or their Adrenal Health daily support formula. You’ll also find it in Herb Pharm’s Anxiety Soother tincture. This queen of the herbs would make a great gift to any mom this Mother’s Day! Stop by any Peoples Rx location and learn more about this wonderful plant and what it can do for you!
Laurène Elliott-Deyris is an Herbalist and Wellness Specialist at Peoples Rx. She received her training at The Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine in Austin and is furthering her clinical studies with the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine program out of North Carolina.
Photo credit: Laurène Elliott-Deyris
**This article is not intended to be medical advice. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before use.**
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