– Ayurveda is a traditional, holistic approach to health and wellbeing that has been practiced on the Indian subcontinent for over 5,000 years. Ayurveda focuses on maintaining energy and vitality through a balance of meditation, an optimized metabolic system, effective digestion and exercise, such as yoga. In the ayurvedic tradition, the health of the body, mind and spirit are entwined. Care of each aspect is vital to maintaining overall wellbeing. Ayurveda encourages individuals to take responsibility for their own diet, exercise and lifestyle. Each person should build a regimen that is as unique as they are and adapt their approach as the seasons and the years pass.
A central aspect of ayurvedic medicine is the use of herbs to enhance health and wellbeing. Holy basil, also known as Ocimum sanctum or tulsi, is highly regarded within ayurveda. This small, aromatic shrub grows across the Indian subcontinent and East Asia. It is part of the mint family and a cousin of sweet basil, which is often used to flavor Italian cuisine. There are three main varieties of holy basil. Rama tulsi has green leaves, white or purple flowers and a mellow flavor. Krishna tulsi has dark green or purple leaves and is known for its peppery taste. Vana tulsi has green leaves, white flowers and a crisp, lemon scent. READ MORE ABOUT BASIL »
Within ayurveda, holy basil is used as an adaptogen, which many naturopaths believe can bring the body into balance and encourage it to self-regulate. These naturopaths believe it is useful to calm the mind and may help develop resilience to the stresses and strains that life presents. Ayurvedic practitioners value holy basil for its potential anti-inflammatory qualities and believe that consuming it can aid longevity. Currently, there is a lack of clinical evidence to support the efficacy of holy basil for these uses.
Holy basil is also regarded as sacred within Hinduism. The Sanskrit word “tulsi” translates as “the incomparable one”, reflecting the esteem with which it is regarded. As a result, holy basil plants are often found around Hindu shrines and temples. Many Hindus plant it in their courtyards or in front of their homes. The leaves of the plant may form an offering to Lord Krishna or other deities. Due to its sacred nature, Hindus do not tend to eat holy basil.
The leaves of the Krishna tulsi plant have a peppery taste and are widely used within Thai cuisine, along with other aromatic herbs such as lemongrass, coriander and Kaffir leaves. Holy basil is particularly useful as an ingredient in stir fry dishes alongside meat or fish.
The leaves of the holy basil plant can be dried and brewed into a tea or infusion. Since it is thought by some to have calming properties, sitting down and sipping a hot drink made from holy basil may be a relaxing and de-stressing experience. By ingesting it, you may also benefit from a range of phytonutrients, including oleanic acid, caryophyllene, rosmarinic acid, eugenol and ursolic acid.
If you want to access the potential benefits of holy basil, but do not wish to use it as an ingredient or a beverage, you can opt to take it as a daily supplement. At drugstore.com, holy basil supplements are available in a variety of formats, including softgel capsules and liquid drops. Consult with your doctor to see whether holy basil supplements are right for you and browse our wide selection of supplements to find the appropriate product today. BACK TO TOP »
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