May 15, 2019
If you open your spice cabinet or grow a garden, there’s a good chance you’ll find either some dried or fresh basil. This bright green and aromatic herb has become a staple spice in many dishes and for many people, but have you ever heard about basil’s sister plant, holy basil?
While holy basil is not as popular as the basil we use in our regular cooking, it is an herb that has been highly revered for centuries, even thousands of years, for its seemingly innumerable benefits. What are they, you ask? Let’s jump right in and get to know our friend, holy basil.
Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is native to north central India and has been grown there for 5,000 years. Today, it is grown and cultivated in many eastern world tropics. Holy basil has many names, including tulsi, the elixir of life, the Queen of Herbs, The Incomparable One, and Mother Medicine of Nature. Many of these ‘nicknames’ originated from holy basil’s key role in Ayurvedic medicine, which is the practice of healthy lifestyle habits to take a more holistic and natural approach to maintaining good health and preventing disease.
In Ayurvedic medicine, people consider holy basil to be an adaptogen because of its ability to alleviate the physical effects of stress and ultimately help us adapt to changes in our body and environment. Holy basil is considered a truly holistic plant because it addresses issues in all areas of holistic health: the body, mind, and soul. In Hinduism, holy basil is also associated with the Hindu god Vishnu, and many people use prayer beads that are made of holy basil, believing that those who wear them are protected.
Holy basil essential oil comes from the steam-distilled leaves. Farmers harvest the plant just before it blossoms, and the result is a fresh, spicy-sweet oil that has so many benefits to offer.
Every plant is made up of a mixture of terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds that give it is unique smell, shape, taste, fruit, and benefits. When it comes to holy basil, however, this plant contains so many phytochemicals, compounds, nutrients, and more that it becomes easy to see just why it’s called “Mother Medicine of Nature”. Here’s just a taste of some of the compounds that make up holy basil and make it so special:
Can you see why so many people love holy basil? With so many compounds such as the ones listed above, it’s no wonder that holy basil is so revered. Now that we know what makes up holy basil to make it so amazing, let’s dive into what sort of benefits you can experience when you use it.
Holy basil’s reputation of a revered and sacred plant is mostly within cultures that have used holy basil over time and come to know its many benefits. Today, however, many people don’t know about holy basil, or at least don’t know about all that it can do for us. As we mentioned before, Ayurvedic medicine considers holy basil to be a truly holistic plant. Here, we are going to just scratch the surface of what holy basil can do to benefit your mind, body, and soul.
These benefits are only the beginning of the list. Holy basil has been used for thousands of years, and it is revered as the Queen of Herbs because it provides many therapeutic benefits that can help with a variety of health issues that we may face in life. Recent studies now support many of the ancient claims, giving us greater insight into all that holy basil can do.
A great way to experience the benefits of holy basil is to use its essential oil. As always, it is important to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before applying them topically to the skin. The same goes for holy basil. You can apply diluted holy basil to the face to help clear acne, or apply the oil to any problem areas on the body.
You can also diffuse holy basil and breathe in its calming, beneficial properties when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
If you want to make your own blends with holy basil essential oil, it pairs great with many other oils, including:
Try using holy basil with these great recipes!
Sore Muscle Relief
Combine all ingredients together, and massage into sore or achy muscles.
Stimulating Scalp Oil
Mix ingredients together in a dark, glass bottle. Before use, warm the bottle up by holding it in your hands. Massage a few drops into your scalp and leave on for 20 minutes. Shampoo and condition your hair as normal. This formula is good for stimulating blood flow to the scalp and keeping hair loss down. Use once a week.
Before using any essential oil, we recommend consulting with a trusted physician or aromatherapist. Avoid using holy basil if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Also avoid if you are taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, scopolamine (for motion sickness), pentobarbital (sedative), or drugs in the benzodiazepine family.
Cohen, Marc Maurice. “Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. October – December 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296439/
Neugent, Brenda. “Holy Basil Essential Oil – A Religious Experience with Amazing Benefits.” MONQ. 12 February 2019. https://monq.com/eo/essential-oils/holy-basil/