The Incomparable Queen of Herbs and the Battle against Adrenal Fatigue
My love affair with Holy Basil began about a year and a half ago. I was deeply exhausted, stressed to the max, gained weight despite regular exercise and a healthy diet, and had difficulty handling any sort of multi-tasking, which quickly became overwhelming. I would often have panic attacks at the thought of running simple errands. It became apparent that I was experiencing adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue can rear its ugly head in a variety of symptoms: consistently feeling tired but wired, inability to focus, inability to deal with daily stressors, anxiety attacks, low libido, slow immune response, weight gain in the gut area, and varying degrees of depression. In our fast-paced society where caffeine is a crutch and expectations to “succeed” are high, this is an all-too common affliction. I remembered learning about the benefits of Holy Basil in an Herbal Studies course I took many years ago, and after incorporating it into my daily routine for about three months, I noticed that lo and behold, I could handle Life again!
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) has been revered in India for over 3,000 years as the “Queen of Herbs.” Its other name, Tulsi, means “Incomparable One” as it is also used in Ayurvedic medicine in association with expanded states of awareness. It is often commonly seen planted around temples and regularly occupies a central space in Indian homes. It is no surprise that this delicate little plant has been given such high praise throughout history.
Scientific research has shown Holy Basil to be an extremely effective adaptogen herb that radically reduces both emotional and physical stress and normalizes functioning levels of the body’s systems. Research has also shown that it decreases the amount of the hormone cortisol released during stress without the negative side-effects of prescription medications. When our adrenal glands are constantly required to sustain high cortisol levels, they eventually become impaired in their ability to respond appropriately. The resulting disfunction not only affects our short-term response to stress, but it also impairs our adrenal glands’ ability to produce and balance other hormones, which are key in helping all body’s systems work together long term as a whole. This elevated stress condition also leads to weight gain, especially in the middle area, which is a throwback survival reaction to our caveman
days when an extra layer protected humans from cold and starvation.
Like its culinary cousin Italian Basil, the Holy Basil plant has beautiful spires of purple flowers and a slightly sweet flavor. The leaves differ slightly, however, with tulsi leaves being slightly smaller and with a coarser texture. Although it is not often used in savory recipes, Holy Basil makes a delicious, rejuvenating, and pleasantly mood-uplifting tea. As a tea, it can be steeped with other herbs, such as lavender and rose petals, to enhance the flavor and calming effects. It can also be combined with other adrenal supportive herbs, such as ashwagandha and astragalus, to provide a well-rounded fatigue recovery process.
Extract of Holy Basil can also be found in tincture form for those days where making a tea is not convenient, although I personally prefer making the tea simply for the meditative act of self-care.
Here is one of my favorite recipes that can be found at Anna’s Apothecary in Manitou Springs. The herbs can be purchased individually in bulk,
or found already blended with love.
Star Power Tea
3 parts Holy Basil
1 part Lavender
Measure out 1 tablespoon of combined herbs to 1 cup of tea. Heat water to just under boiling and pour over herbs. Let steep to desired strength. Relax, enjoy, and rejoice in your healing!