Your six-year-old dawdled all morning and now you’re stuck in traffic, late for an important meeting. Your heart pumps, your adrenals churn out that stress-induced villain, cortisol, aided by that double-double you’re gulping. The “fight-or-flight” mechanism kicks in. But you can’t fight or fly–you’re stuck in traffic.
We live in stressful times. According to studies at the US National Institutes of Health, approximately 90 percent of all illnesses are caused or aggravated by stress. So what do we do? While exercise and meditation are excellent stress antidotes, neither is an option when the clock reads 8:57 am and you have six more clogged kilometres to navigate.
Enter holy basil (Ocimum sanctum), an ancient Ayurvedic herb, known as Tulsi in Hindi, botanically related to its culinary cousin, sweet basil. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, this sacramental herb was considered fever reducing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, blood purifying, antiparasitic, cough suppressing, diuretic, immune strengthening, digestive aiding, mind and memory enhancing, and nerve calming. But it is holy basil’s ability to lower cortisol and blood sugar levels that has been drawing attention in the West.
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