Thursday, October 2, 2008

Holy Basil, Batman!

This summer I made two separate plantings of "Holy Basil" Ocimum sanctum (also known as Ocimum tenuiflorum but not to be confused with 'Sweet(think pesto)Basil' Ocimum basilicum) Holy Basil is also known as Tulsi in Sanskrit meaning the 'incomparable one'. Even though they were labeled identically, it soon was apparent that I was growing two completely different plants. Boy, does that kinda thing make for one grumpy gardener! After a little research and a LOT of discussion on The Essential Herbal Yahoo List I came to the conclusion that I had no need to be stumped or grumpy at all! There are two main types cultivated in India: the light green-leaved (Sri or Rama Tulsi) and the dark green or purple-leaved (Krishna Tulsi). I just happened to get some of each! There is a third type (Ocimum gratissimum or Vana Tulsi) that grows wild in the forests of India. For over 3,000 years this plant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine and is believed to nourish a person's spiritual growth and to promote a long, healthy and balanced life. Turns out, ((surprise,surprise)) after all these years they appear to be right!!One of Holy Basil's many gifts is it's strength as an amazing 'adaptogen'. It helps our bodies adapt to stress (and all those unseen metabolic processes that get outa whack because of it!) Namely, it helps restore cortisol levels to a normal state. Cortisol is known as one of the 'fight or flight' hormones or the 'stress hormone'. It is produced naturally in the adrenal glands (because we would be helpless without it), but can be cranked out at extremely high levels when the body is under constant physical, emotional or psychological stresses. Elevated cortisol levels coursing continually through our bodies can produce all kind of symptoms: high blood pressure, anxiety, insulin resistance, insomnia, an imbalance of sex hormones....and that dreaded middle age weight gain. It can also suppress immune function. Well, Dang. Another great use for Holy Basil is to reduce "mental fog"....and who couldn't use a little of that, I ask?
In actuality, the Ayurvedic physicians prescribe it for the mental fog produced by chronic cannabis abuse...hehheh. yeah. I would tend to believe that the 'fog' created by juggling a home based business while tending to family, gardens, fluctuating mid-life hormones and just living life in this crazy fast-paced culture may produce a chemically different, but decidedly comparable 'fog'. Anything that can deal with that kinda fog, I'm all about! Hence, the many plants in my garden this year and the two very different tinctures produced by the two different Tulsi varieties I grew. My initial impulse was to combine them, but I think I'll try them individually before I do that and see if I can tell a difference....No need to take a tincture if you are thinking of trying it. There are many new varieties of Tulsi tea on the market now. I particularly enjoy the Organic India brand of teas. Especially the one with rose petals. The jasmine is also lovely. Give them a try....
For further reading about adaptogens, I highly recommend a relatively new book by David Winston entitled...."Adaptogens- Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief". Holy Basil is featured along with a great variety of other helpers. Final note: This stress thing, try as we might, is chronic in our society, and with the current state of affairs, it doesn't appear that it's going to go away real soon. ..and that's as political as this gal is going to get on the blog...Take care of yourself in every small way you can !!


kansasrose said...

Cool info Suebabe. I loves the basil...Should it be allowed to flower? Hey..sounds like we all need some basil in our lives. I'll have to email ya a very wierd story called The Basil Pot. I ran across this 10 years ago on the originated from the Renaissance. You may already know about's a twisted love story.

Sandi said...


Great blog! Love the looks of the Elderberry Syrup. Holy Basil is my favorite tincture! Without it this summer I would have been lost to stress!
BlackKat Herbs

kansasrose said...

I want a truckload of those maypop things too....geeeezh.


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