Holy Basil Is a Superfood Worthy of Worship

In this age of cancer awareness, obesity-linked diseases, and greater levels of stress than ever before, it's nice to know you can do something to help mitigate the dangers of modern living. No, not move to a remote hermitage — although that's tempting. It turns out, though, that holy basil may just be the newest tool in your self-care kit. If you're looking for less stress (and less of everything that comes with it), this Ayurvedic herb is for you.

What Is It?

Known as tulsi to the Hindu people of the Indian subcontinent, who initially cultivated it for its many sacred healing properties, holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) belongs to the same family as regular basil — you know, the herb you sprinkle liberally on your caprese. Holy basil, however, has been proven an adaptogen, which is a compound that helps your body stabilize both mentally and physically, therefore adapting to stress more readily.

What Does It Do?

According to the National Center For Biotechnology Information, holy basil provides a huge range of stress-busting benefits. According to ancient lore and budding research, it:

  • Reduces psychological stress
  • Nourishes the mind in a manner similar to yoga
  • Offers antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties
  • Fights metabolic syndrome, which is the precursor to diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and, according to some, cancer
  • Detoxifies your body
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Enhances your overall well-being

In Ayurvedic medicine, holy basil is credited with the ability to lessen the symptoms of almost any disease, as well as treat bites and a wide variety of infections.

What's the Nutritional Breakdown?

Holy basil is an herb, which means it doesn't bring sugars or calories to the table. No matter what type of diet you're on, you can freely incorporate it into your routine. The calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A and C are an added benefit.

What Does It Taste Like?

The reports of holy basil's smell and taste vary. Some claim it to be delicious, smelling of bubble gum. Others say it smells like lemon and mint, with leaves that produce a bitter but pleasant tea.

How Do I Consume It?

If you go the tea route, crush two to three teaspoons of it and pour boiling water over it into a mug. You may also enjoy its pungent leaves in a curry or soup.

Are There Any Negative Side Effects?

Nope. Modern medicine continues to confirm the safety and validity of holy basil, but the thousands of years of Ayurvedic use are far greater proof that this herb is not only safe, but may also just be the fountain of youth we're all looking for — or, at least, a trickle of it.