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Holy Basil!

Posted June 22nd, 2017 by Caron Wenzel in

Yes, there is a type of basil that is even more wonderful and holy then regular Italian basil. Holy basil is a native of India where it has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. An important component of Ayurvedic medicine, it is difficult to find something that is not made better by this humble basil. Known as the Queen of herbs and a gift of the creator, it holds a special place in the religious temples of Indian Hinduism as well.

A member of the genus Ocimum, species tenuiflorum, it shares many pungent qualities with its Italian cousin. It is also known as tulsi. Another similar species is O. sanctum. Thai basil is another family member used in Thai cuisine. There are some twenty species of basil all coming from tropical places. It is grown as an annual in temperate climates.

The genus Ocimum is a chemical chameleon that produces many types of essential plant compounds like eugenol, (clove), limonene (lemon), camphor, terpenes and many other healing compounds. According to Herbslist.net, these are just some of the many uses of this purple-flowered powerhouse.

Holy Basil Uses in Ayurveda

  • Reduce stress, depression and anxiety
  • Treat panic attacks
  • Promote mental relaxation
  • As an adaptogen
  • Treat convulsions
  • Treat cancer
  • Increase strength, stamina and endurance
  • Utilize oxygen more efficiently
  • Promote proper protein synthesis
  • Aid digestion
  • Boost the functioning of the immune system
  • As an aid to meditation and spiritual growth
  • Promote cerebral circulation
  • Improve memory
  • Promote clarity of thought and focus
  • Treat diabetes
  • Treat ADHD and ADD
  • For faster wound healing
  • As a pain reducer
  • Treat kidney stones
  • Treat high cholesterol
  • Treat heart disorders
  • Treat mouth infections
  • Treat headaches
  • Treat poisoning
  • Balance hormones
  • Maintain healthy cortisol levels
  • Maintain proper blood sugar levels
  • Treat inflammation
  • Treat colds, sore throat and coughs
  • Treat snakebite and scorpion stings
  • Resist bacterial and viral infections
  • Treat malaria
  • Reduce fevers
  • Maintain respiratory health
  • Treat asthma, allergies and bronchitis
  • Treat arthritis
  • Relieve gas and stomach cramps
  • Protect vision and eye health
  • Protect against radiation
  • As a powerful antioxidant
  • Protect the liver and kidneys
  • Maintain dental health and reduce bad breath
  • Treat insect bites and skin problems

Holy basil is also used as a mosquito repellant and its leaves can be mixed with harvested grains to prevent insect damage in storage. Tulsi tea is a tasty and relaxing but pregnant women and people taking blood thinners should not drink tulsi tea.

Caron Wenzel is an Environmental Educator, writer, and owner of Blazing Star Inc. a 26-year-old native plant seed nursery, soil amendment and environmental consulting business. For more information visit Blazing-Star.com.

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