Holy Basil (aka Tulsi)
Holy Basil (Sheng Lou Le)
Botanical Name: Ocimum tenuiflorum, O. sanctum L., O. grassum
Holy basil, is considered a sacred plant in the Hindu tradition and is often planted around Hindu shrines. The Hindu name for holy basil, Tulsi, means “the incomparable one.” This plant is not the same as common basil, aka sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum). The entire plant, from the leaves to the seeds is considered a tonic for the body, mind, and spirit. It is used to treat bronchitis, malaria, eczema, stomach ulcers, eye diseases, and more. It is especially known for treating symptoms associated with stress, anxiety, and depression. It can address physical, chemical, metabolic, and psychological stress.
Below is an overview of Holy Basil (Sheng Lou Le), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Holy Basil (Sheng Lou Le).
Western Name: Holy Basil
Also Known As: Tulsi
Organs/Systems: Endocrine System, Brain, Immune System, Muscular/Skeletal System, Digestive System
Key Actions: Adaptogen, Antioxidant, Antidepressant, Antibacterial, Antiviral, Antifungal, Antimicrobial, Anti-inflammatory, Analgesic, Nootropic, Repellent
Medicinal Uses: Stress, anxiety, depression, headaches, colds, coughs, asthma, diarrhea, cardiovascular disorders, back pain, stomach ulcers, arthritis, joint pain, fibromyalgia, indigestion, fever, dysentery, eye disorders, vomiting, snake bites, scorpion bites, malaria, diabetes, weight loss, foggy brain, memory, mouthwash.
Pin Yin: Sheng Lou Le
Also Known As: Tu Er Xi (translates as Tulsi)
Meridians: Heart, Spleen, Kidney
Key Actions: Shen Tonic, Tonifies the Spleen, Tonifies the Kidneys, Tonifies Yang
Medicinal Uses: Calms anxiety, lifts the Spirit, depression, counters stress, adrenal fatigue, foggy brain, memory loss, improves circulation, heart health, arthritis, muscle aches, insomnia.
Holy basil is a member of the mint family. It has long, green, jagged-edge leaves with purple stems. The leaves are fragrant with a scent similar to anise.
Holy basil is native to Southeast Asia and most especially, North Central India.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaves, Stems, Seeds, Flowers
Flavors/Temps: Pungent, Bitter, Warm
Caution: Generally considered safe. No negative side effects have been reported for use of the leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers.
History/Folklore: In Hindu traditions, holy basil is a symbol of chastity and purity. It is one of the most sacred plants in India and has been used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to benefit the body, mind, and spirit. It is considered “The Elixir of Life” and “Mother Medicine of Nature.” Today, it is recognised around the world for its adaptogenic properties that can help relieve the symptoms associated with stress and anxiety.
In Hindu traditions, the herb has a deep history for being used esoterically to harmonize the bio-energetic fields of the body and energetic chakra systems. In yogic philosophy it is one of a handful of herbs that is known for its ability to balance the chakras. It is a profoundly healing plant that singularly heals the body, mind, and spirit.
Holy basil has been shown to increase levels of dopamine, reduce cortisol spikes caused by chronic stress, and reduce inflammation. Studies have shown it can improve mood and cognitive capacities.
Holy basil has been found to be as effective at relieving pain as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin.
The anti-inflammatory properties of holy basil are attributed to multiple metabolites that can either act alone or synergistically to inhibit inflammatory pathways. Ayurvedic medicine recommends daily use of the herb to help counter and treat many chronic diseases, especially those associated with inflammation.
Recent studies have found that rats exposed to chronic loud noise, a modern day environmental health issue, experienced damaged DNA, suppressed neurotransmitters, and a weakened immune system. Daily dosing of holy basil helped to protect their brains significantly reducing the negative impact of noise on neurotransmitters.
Research has found that patients given 500 mg of holy basil extract twice a day for 60 days significantly reduced general anxiety and relieved stress and depression. It has been found to be as effective as Valium and Tofranil for treating depression. Recommended doses for holy basil extract is 300 – 2,00 mg per day.
Studies have also revealed that holy basil can help protect improve memory. Suppressed acetylcholine is commonly found in Alzheimers’s patients. Use of holy basil helped to counter this neurodegenerative activity and improve cognitive function. Stress can cause changes in brain cell signaling, neurotransmitters, and hormones. Holy basil can help counter the impact stress has on the body, reducing inflammation, minimizing the risk for cardiovascular disease and metabolic disease (associated with diabetes and NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and reduce the chance of cancer.
Holy basil can protect your brain from industrial pollution, heavy metals (including cadmium, chromium, arsenic, and mercury), stroke, stress, and physical strain. A powerful antioxidant it can help clear free radicals from your system. Holy basil is said to help protect your brain from the toxic side effects of radiation and pharmaceuticals including acetaminophen, meloxicam, paracetamol, haloperidol, and anti-tubercular drugs.
The compounds orientin and vicenin found in holy basil have been proven to protect against radiation injury caused by nuclear reactors, x-rays, or other sources of environmental radiation exposure.
Holy basil may reduce the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) associated with a decrease in the circulation of testosterone. The reduction of LH and testosterone may result in sperm production. Studies are being conducted to see if holy basil may be used as an effective male contraceptive.
There are three types of holy basil that are used therapeutically:
- Krishna (O. tenuiflorum): It has purplish leaves and has the highest concentrations of of adaptogenic triterpenoic acids.
- Vana (O. gratissimum): It is high in eugenol and is native to India and Africa.
- Rama (O. sanctum): This is the most common type now grown in the US.
Not to be confused with sweet basil (O. basilicum) often used in Italian and Thai recipes, holy basil (O. tenuiflorum) is sometimes called “hot basil” in Indian cookbooks. It is known for its peppery taste.
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Vitamin A & C, Calcium, Zinc, Iron, Chlorophyll, Eugenol, Cirsilineol, Cirsimaritin, Isothymusin, Apigenin, Rosmarinic acid, Ursolic acid, Oleanolic acids, Carotenoids, Orientin, Vicenin, Triterpenoic acids.
Holy basil is caffeine-free and can be enjoyed as a daily tea to relax, increase a sense of well-being, and clear the mind.
Sick and Dying
In India, holy basil is a sacred plant given to the very sick and dying to ease their way into the next life and guide them to heaven.
Holy basil has antimicrobial properties that make it useful as a hand sanitizer and water purifier.
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