Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Ocimum tenuiflorum

Tulsi or Holy Basil, native to India, is revered and widely used in Ayurvedic medicine [1]. But it’s not just those from it’s native bioregion that has found it useful! It is used in Chinese medicine, and it’s reverence and use extends to modern herbalists in addition to being researched clinically for a variety of uses [2].


“The Incomparable One”

1. Potent Adaptogen

Adaptogens are described as foods and herbs that support the body’s ability to regulate homeostasis and stress [3]. While this term isn’t widely accepted in Western medicine, Tulsi’s diverse range of positive impacts on the body certainly indicate that it has a broad spectrum supportive benefit.

A review of studies found that it had been studied and found to support an array of functions including: Antimicrobial (including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiprotozoal, antimalarial, anthelmintic), mosquito repellent, anti-diarrheal, anti-oxidant, anti-cataract, anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive, radioprotective, hepato-protective, neuro-protective, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic, anti-hypercholesterolemia, anti-hypertensive, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, anti-pyretic, anti-allergic, immunomodulatory, central nervous system depressant, memory enhancement, anti-asthmatic, anti-tussive, diaphoretic, anti-thyroid, anti-fertility, anti-ulcer, anti-emetic, anti-spasmodic, anti-arthritic, adaptogenic, anti-stress, anti-cataract, anti-leukodermal and anti-coagulant activities [4,5].

What a list! Tulsi is a superfood and wonderful plant indeed!

 2. Protection Against Toxins

The protective effect of Tulsi on the body against chemical toxins and heavy metals has been studied at great length. One review lists over 25 studies on the protective effects of Tulsi against various chemical, heavy metal toxins, pharmaceutical drugs and even radiation by protecting against cellular, immune, genetic and chromosomal damage [6].

3. Stress Resilience

Tulsi has been studied for how it supports bodies under stress, specifically against the impacts of mental, noise and metabolic stress.

It has been shown to support neurotransmitter and oxidative stress in the brain, as well as immune, ECG and corticosteroid responses in response to noise exposure [7].

It has been shown to reduce free radical damage to the liver, kidneys, and pancreatic islet cells as well as other positive impacts on these metabolic organs, as well as insulin secretion and action.

4. Anti-Infection (anti-bacterial and anti-viral)

Tulsi has been shown to boost immune defenses, and shown some studies to support treatment of a variety of possible infections from UTI to tuberculosis, herpes simplex (HSV) to achne. It is currently used and has shown effective for reducing infections in lifestock [8].

It may even have uses in food preservation because of this anti-bacterial action [9].

It’s event been shown to be as effective as Listerine in reducing specific mouth bacteria levels! [10]

5. Anti-Inflammatory

Tulsi having both acute and chronic anti-inflammatory action has been observed. It is thought to be a result of the eugenol and linoleic acid in Tulsi and the inhibition of arachidonic acid metabolism, which are similar to the compounds and effects of ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin [11,12].

6. Wound Healing

Because of the array of beneficial effects – anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and viral, and even analgesic activities – Tulsi is useful in wound healing as well – specifically it’s been shown in studies to increase wound breaking strength and by accelerating wound healing [13].

7. Digestive Support

The same wound healing functions, coupled with additional support around reduction of acid-pepsin secretion and lipid peroxidation, as well as promoting various mucousal secretions combine to make Tulsi a supportive agent for oral and gastric ulcers [14].

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