Holy basil (or Tulsi), with its astringent taste and powerful aroma, is not the sweet basil you use to season marinara sauce. And it is very different from the basil used in Thai cuisine. Cultivated in the Southeast Asian tropics, holy basil has long been considered sacred in India where it is still used in worship services. For centuries, holy basil has been used in Ayurvedic therapies to treat a wide range of ailments including respiratory conditions, skin conditions, inflammation, microbial conditions, infertility, and psychological distress.
Modern scientific research is now demonstrating its beneficial effects. Evidence suggests that Tulsi offers protective benefits against physical, environmental/chemical, metabolic, and psychological stress.
Researchers are interested in the active ingredients that can be derived from the flowers, stems, leaves, seeds, and roots and used for medicinal purposes. The active ingredients in Tulsi have been found to have “adaptogenic effects,” which means Tulsi helps the body better manage the physiological response to stress. Studies also show it helps reduce inflammation and keep blood glucose levels in balance. There also is evidence to support using holy basil as an antimicrobial agent in hand sanitizer and mouthwash.
There are several methods of application for holy basil: Dried powder, a capsule containing the concentrated herb extract, tea, or tincture. A natural health physician may advise using a specific amount and a specific type of application based on individual health concerns or for preventive care. Because it is known to interact with other medications, consult with your physician before taking a Tulsi supplement if you are any medications. Unless under a physician’s care, do not give holy basil to an infant.
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