Tulsi, more commonly known as Holy Basil, is one of the best superfood herbs on the planet. “Tulsi” means “The Incomparable One” and is reflective of the powerful health benefits it contains. Holy Basil was a staple of Hindu mythology and the Indian royalty considered this herb sacred. Modern scientific evidence supports that this herb supports balancing the body, mind, and spirit.
The plant is part of the Labiatae or mint family. The Holy Basil shrub has scented leaves which contain its life saving compounds. It is native to South Asia where it has been used for centuries. It serves an important role in Ayurvedic medicine (the ancient medical system of India) believed to increase the body’s resilience, balance, and adaptive abilities.
Holy Basil: An Adaptogenic Power Food
Holy Basil is classified in natural medicine as an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens equip the body to better handle stress. Holy Basil and other adaptogenic herbs do not influence a person’s mood but rather optimize the function of the body during periods of high or chronic stress. Adaptogens regulate the synthesis of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Chronic stress is a modern day problem and epidemic that afflicts many individuals and results in chronic inflammation, abnormal immune responses, and a slow metabolism. High levels of cortisol lead to digestive complications such as leaky gut syndrome, weight gain, increased appetite, thyroid disorders, and an increase in the degeneration of brain neurons.
High cortisol levels are a common problem in people struggling with psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. Several autoimmune conditions, including cancer, are also associated with chronic and high concentrations of stress hormones. These hormones serve as a catalyst for an abnormal immune response.
Why You Need Balanced Cortisol Levels
Adaptogenic herbs provide the unique health benefit of lowering and improving cortisol levels. Elevated cortisol levels drain the ability of many other compounds to produce sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Without a sufficient supply of the precursors needed, sex hormones become deficient − which rapidly increases the aging process of an individual.
Healthy individuals will have a spike of cortisol levels in the morning which then decreases and remains low throughout the day, and reduces dramatically in the evening. This cycle allows the body to wake up energized in the morning while maintaining energy until the need for sleep arises again at night.
Balanced cortisol levels improve your ability to have better memory and mental clarity. With balanced cortisol you feel less anxious, less agitated, and better able to live a higher quality of life.
Tulsi Contains Cancer Fighting Antioxidants
One of the many benefits of Holy Basil (Tulsi) is that it contains essential oils. Essential oils serve unique abilities for promoting total body health. Holy Basil contains phytonutrient-potent oils such as rosmarinic acid, caryophyllene, eugenol, and ursolic acid, among others. These plant oils naturally stimulate mood and the spirit. Eugenol alone has been shown in several studies to decrease stress and promote mental clarity.
Holy Basil regulates cortisol and insulin by stabilizing both stress levels and blood sugar levels. One study published in the Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry provides evidence that Holy Basil can even reverse some of the devastating effects of diabetes such as neuropathy and retinopathy.
Tulsi contains vitamin C, vitamin A, and essential oils which are all anti-oxidants that go through the body scavenging free radicals and improving cellular integrity, blood flow, and genetic expression. Holy Basil is especially beneficial for improving brain function and cardiovascular health aiding in the protection against brain degeneration and heart disease.
How Holy Basil Supports Immune Function
Holy Basil aids in strengthening the immune system supporting the body against the invasion of parasites like Candida, MRSA, staph infections, and viruses. Like other adaptogens, Holy Basil modulates the immune system, stimulating it when a toxic invader is present.
When the immune system is in overdrive and results in increased inflammation without any cause for this increased response, Holy Basil will also inhibit this over-activity. A healthy and well supported immune system is essential to preventing and destroying cancer cell growth.
A Study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2007 shows how Holy Basil is able to fight against the development of cancer. The study showed that Holy Basil causes a reduction in the formation of individual cancer cells, and stimulates healthy enzyme activity while increasing antioxidant levels.
Anticancer Properties of Tulsi
Holy Basil contains the powerful antioxidant ursolic acid. As explained above, ursolic acid is one of several phytonutrients exhibiting antioxidant effects. Ursolic acid has been shown in various studies to inhibit the replication of abnormal DNA while preventing tumor growth and metastasis. One possible reason for this anticancer potential of ursolic acid is its ability to destroy specific cancer “bodyguards” that protect the survival of cancer cells.
Ursolic acid from Tulsi has been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory and total anti-cancer effects on cancers including:
Conventional cancer treatments using radiation have inherent toxic side effects on the total body. Holy Basil has recently been found to provide protection against the instability of genes caused by radiation. These effects are found to be a result of the presence of the flavonoids eugenol, orientin, and vicenin. These exhibit not only antioxidant abilities but also aid in the removal of toxins from the body. They also prevent against inflammation and healthy tissue damage.
The beginning stages of clinical testing have also shown that these same antioxidants also have the ability to protect against sickness and mortality resulting from radiation treatment. Studies indicate that orientin and vicenin from Holy Basil leaf extract are especially capable of protecting organs highly sensitive to radiation toxicity. It seems to be particularly effective in protecting the gastrointestinal tract and the various organs that produce blood such as the bone marrow and spleen.
The unique and rich combination of phytochemicals in Holy Basil provides a chemopreventive and radioprotective response in the following ways:
- Inhibits inflammation and reduces fever
- Natural painkiller or analgesic relief
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Prevents liver damage and toxicity
- Stabilizes lipid levels
- Total stress relief
- Regulates a healthy immune response
- Induces apoptosis (“cellular death”) in cancer cells
- Prevents DNA damage
- Inhibits the spread and progression of tumors
Holy Basil is a powerful and ancient holistic herbal tool used to promote optimal health and prevent disease. While many lifestyle-related chronic diseases are preventable, they are still one of the greatest causes of mortality today worldwide.
Regular consumption and use of Holy Basil and other adaptogenic herbs can significantly benefit physical, physiological, and psychological health. Holy basil is an excellent natural anti-depressant which supports systemic health protecting the human body against a wide variety of pathogenic and carcinogenic substances in today’s industrialized world.
It’s not regarded as the “elixir of life” for no reason… adding Holy Basil to your diet daily can protect your body from the stressors of everyday life while helping to prevent and treat chronic diseases such as cancer.
SourceSources and References
Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity.
Adaptogens in mental and behavioral disorders
Traumatic stress: effects on the brain
Stress hormones, proinflammatory and antiinflammatory cytokines, and autoimmunity.
Stress as a trigger of autoimmune disease
Chemical composition and antioxidant property of holy basil (Ocimum sanctum L.) leaves, stems, and inflorescence and their in vitro callus cultures.
Eugenol as an anti-stress agent: modulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and brain monoaminergic systems in a rat model of stress.
Hypoglycaemic, hypolipidemic and antioxidant properties of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum linn) on streptozotocin induced diabetes in rats
Ocimum sanctum Linn. A reservoir plant for therapeutic applications: An overview
Therapeutic uses of Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi) with a note on eugenol and its pharmacological actions: a short review.
Ocimum sanctum L (Holy Basil or Tulsi) and its phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of cancer
Ursolic Acid Inhibits Growth and Metastasis of Human Colorectal Cancer in an Orthotopic Nude Mouse Model by Targeting Multiple Cell Signaling Pathways: Chemosensitization with Capecitabine
Radio protective effects of the Ayurvedic medicinal plant Ocimum sanctum Linn. (Holy Basil): A memoir
Radioprotective effects of Aegle marmelos (L.) Correa (Bael): a concise review.
Ocimum sanctum L (Holy Basil or Tulsi) and its phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Ocimum gratissimum retards breast cancer growth and progression and is a natural inhibitor of matrix metalloproteases
Preventing Chronic Diseases a vital investment
Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons
Chemopreventive activity of Ocimum sanctum seed oil
Unravelling the genome of Holy basil: an “incomparable” “elixir of life” of traditional Indian medicine