For thousands of years, practitioners of India’s ancient Ayurvedic health traditions have prized holy basil for its immune-supportive and adaptogenic uses. Also known as tulsi, holy basil comes from the Ocimum sanctum plant, an aromatic shrub with edible foliage. In Hindi, the herb’s name means “incomparable one.” Its ground seeds and leaves are used in Southeast Asian religious rites, health practices, cuisine and to repel pests when added to food storage.
In herbalism, this botanical is known as an adaptogen, or a substance that helps the body adapt to circumstances such as stress, harsh environments, emotional turmoil, toxins or physical exertion. It is believed to increase resistance to stress by supporting adrenal performance, neurotransmitter production and blood glucose balance. In modern nutritional supplements, the herb is popularly used to maintain blood sugar levels that are already within normal range. More recent studies have validated the plant’s antioxidant activity, which may further support cardiovascular wellness, liver health and cognitive function.**
Holy basil is a rich source of eugenol and rosmarinic acids, powerful antioxidant phytochemicals that help the body neutralize damage caused by free radicals. Eugenol is thought to balance certain metabolic enzymes, which may in turn promote normal cell growth. The herb also supplies an active ingredient called ursolic acid; an effective inflammation modulator with antimicrobial properties that is used in cosmetic applications for supple skin and lustrous hair. Very early research has suggested ursolic acid may also influence fat metabolism and lean muscle mass development, hinting at potential weight management applications, as well.**
Holy Basil Products
Supplements are sourced from the leaves, stems, roots and flowers of the Ocimum sanctum plant. The supplement comes in many forms, but is usually presented in capsules. Its oil may be used in beautifying topical creams and shampoos. Some supplements may be standardized to supply a guaranteed level of ursolic acid, which is an important “active ingredient” of the herb.**
Holy Basil Directions for Use
Consult your health care provider before adding tulsi to your wellness regimen. There is no standard recommended amount; doses differ by supplement form. Capsules typically supply between 300 mg and 450 mg of tulsi per serving.**