Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil or Ocimum Tenuiflorum, is an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogenic herbs work to help the body regulate reactions to psychological stress. It is related to culinary basil, the name Holy Basil is derived from its use in Ayurvedic medicine. This aromatic herb is native to the Indian subcontinent and is cultivated throughout the Southeast Asian tropics. The taste is described as hot and bitter. In Ayurveda it is said to normalise Kapha and Vata. Tulsi is also credited for brightening the complexion, providing stamina, increasing brain power and producing a calm emotional disposition [i].
Methods of action:
Mental Health and Brain Health:
The modern lifestyle, increasingly driven by mobile devices and technological advances leads many people to a more faced-paced existence. Tulsi has been proven to have anti-anxiety properties with effects com parable to anti-anxiety medications such as diazepam [ii]. Anti-depressant actions have also been seen and comparable to anti-depressant drugs[iii]. Preferred to as ‘Liquid Yoga’, regular consumption of Tulsi may be beneficial to mental health in a similar fashion to regular yoga practice [iv].
Psychological stress combined with the physical stress of pollutants in our food and atmosphere. Studies suggest to the ability of Tulsi to prevent liver, kidney and brain injury by protecting against the genetic, immune and cellular damage caused by pesticides, pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals [vii] [viii] [ix].
Tulsi has been shown to provide protection against metabolic disease or pre-diabetes which can lead to a diabetic state [x].
Protection against infection:
Modern research has revealed that Tulsi has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activity [xi].
Holy basil is not recommended for those who are taking specific medications such as anti-coagulants (drugs that slow down blood clotting) these include: Coumadin (warfarin) Heparin, or Aspirin [xii].
[i] Cohen M. M. (2014). ‘Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons’. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 5(4), 251–259.
[ii] Pemminati S, Gopalakrishna HN, Venkatesh V, et al. (2011) ‘Anxiolytic effect of acute administration of ursolic acid in rats’. Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences 2:431–7.
[iii] Moinuddin G, Devi K, Satish H, et al. (2011) ‘Comparative pharmacological evaluation of Ocimum sanctum and imipramine for antidepressant activity’. Latin American Journal of Pharmacy. 30:435–9.
[iv] Cohen M. M. (2014). ‘Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons’. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 5(4), 251–259.
[v] Giridharan VV, Thandavarayan RA, Mani V, et al. (2011) ‘Ocimum sanctum Linn. leaf extracts inhibit acetylcholinesterase and improve cognition in rats with experimentally induced dementia’. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2011;14:912–9.
[vi] Dokania M, Kishore K, & Sharma PK. ‘Effect of Ocimum sanctum extract on sodium nitrite-induced experimental amnesia in mice’. Thai Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 35:123–30.
[vii] Shah K, Verma RJ. (2012) ‘Protection against butyl p-hydroxybenzoic acid induced oxidative stress by Ocimum sanctum extract in mice liver’. Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica. 69:865–70.
[viii] Enayatallah SA, Shah SN, & Bodhankar SL. (2004) ‘A study of hepatoprotective activity of Ocimum sanctum (Krishna tulas) extracts in chemically induced liver damage in albino mice’. Journal of Ecophysiology and Occupational Health. 89–96.
[ix] Makwana M, Rathore HS. (2011) ‘Prevention of hepatorenal toxicity of acetaminophen with Ocimum sanctum in mice’. International Journal. International Journal of Pharmacy & Technology. 3:1385–96.
[x] Cohen M. M. (2014). ‘Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons’. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 5(4), 251–259.
[xi] Vasudevan P, Kashyap S, & Sharma S. (1999) ‘Bioactive botanicals from basil (Ocimum sp.)’ Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research. 58:332–8.
[xii] Jamshidi, N., & Cohen, M. M. (2017). ‘The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature’. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. 9217567.
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