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Holy Basil - Mind and Body Medicine

Reaching for a cup of warm Holy Basil tea on a cold day? This gentle and generous plant has therapeutic benefit for both physical and emotional stresses. Revered in India, Holy Basil or Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), is also known as ‘The Queen of Herbs’, ‘Mother Medicine of Nature’ and ‘The Incomparable One. It is a soothing, yet energizing, tonic for the body, mind, and spirit.

Tulsi is traditionally used to treat coughs, colds and flu, and as a carminative, ongoing studies are confirming the properties of this beautiful plant. Research is showing a long list of properties including (get this!): antimicrobial, anti-diarrheal, anti-oxidant, anti-cataract, anti-inflammatory, chemoprotective, hepato-protective, neuro-protective, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic, anti-hypercholesterolemic, anti-hypertensive, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, antipyretic, anti-allergic, immunomodulatory, central nervous system depressant, memory enhancement, anti-asthmatic, anti-tussive, diaphoretic, anti-thyroid, antifertility, anti-ulcer, anti-emetic, anti-spasmodic, anti-arthritic, adaptogenic, anti-stress, anti-leucodermal and anti-coagulant activities. (Cohen MM. Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014;5(4):251–259. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.146554)

As a mild adaptogen Tulsi normalizes the nervous system, the hormonal system and the immune system. It benefits fatigue and foggy thinking and eases stagnant depression and anxiety. It can be used both internally and externally for antimicrobial activities against viruses, bacteria, fungus, protozoa and helminths. In the Digestive system Tulsi is effective for gas, nausea and bloating, helping to heal gastric ulcers and normalize pancreatic function, its immunomodulatory, anti-allergic effect can also be very helpful at the gut level. Because this is such a gentle herb it can be used daily as a simple tonic to rebuild vitality.

For those with blood sugar imbalances such as insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome or diabetes Holy Basil can help re-regulate blood sugar and improve blood lipids. It has a protective effect on the liver, kidney and pancreatic islet cells while also stimulating the cytochrome P450 system for detoxification. Similar to non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, Tulsi also inhibits the cyclooxygenase and lipooxygenase pathways to exert its anti-inflammatory effects.

Easy to grow, Krishna Tulsi plants (with the purple tones) will survive indoors under an LED lamp throughout our long winter. With such vitality and enthusiasm for growth, this plant has much to share and does so generously. So - sip a cup of holy basil tea to appreciate the gentle nature of this beautiful herb. - Dagmar Holland

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Beautiful herb, I was introduced many years ago to it through my yoga teacher and was instantly in love with its gentle nature. I drink it every second day alternating with Gotu Kola as a beautiful mingling of their properties. Thank you for this wonderful post outlining all the incredible things it can do for us in the body and the mind.

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