the farm

Holy Basil: Stillness in Action

Published on September 08, 2015

Holy Basil is one of the most popular herbs we grow on the Gaia farm. Visitors' eyes light up when they step into the fields of bright green leaves with purple flowers. 

The Incomparable One

Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) has been described as "the incomparable one," and in India, it is considered to be an incarnation of Tulasi or Vrindavani, a consort of Lord Vishnu. There, it is a symbol of fidelity and thought to be helpful in attaining spiritual enlightenment. It is considered the holiest of plants, with a ranking someplace between heaven and earth. Its Sanskrit name, Tulsi or Tulasi, translates to "scale" or "balance" and "horizontal line." That is symbolic of its most common modern use, which is to promote natural balance within the body and help maintain a state of equilibrium.*

The leaves of Holy Basil support a healthy response to stress, while nourishing the mind and elevating the spirit.* In Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India, Holy Basil is categorized as a rasayana, meaning it helps support a foundation of wellness within the body.* In Western herbalism, it is an adaptogen.

Adapt to Stress, Naturally*

Adaptogens are a group of herbs that support the body's natural ability to adapt to stress.* These herbs work by supporting the function of the adrenal glands, which are responsible for the body's hormonal response to stress.* They nourish by acting like a preprogrammed thermostat, offering the support that individual needs at a particular time.* This could be called a "normalizing" response to stress, be it emotional, physical or environmental.*

Holy Basil contains a number of essential oils, including Ursolic and Rosmarinic acids and Eugenols, all of which offer antioxidant support and promote a healthy response to inflammation.* The herb also has a history of use for respiratory function and digestion.*

If you've never been in a field of Holy Basil, we hope you get to experience it some day. That's stillness in action.

Selected Sources:
Hoffmann, David, FNIMH, AHG. Medical Herbalism. Rochester, Vermont. Healing Arts Press; 2003
Mondal S, Mirdha BR, Mahapatra SC. The science behind sacredness of Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn.). Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2009 Oct-Dec;53(4):291-306.