Stress is a constant partner of life. Everyday situations go hand-in-hand with stress, making it difficult to cope with both the ordinary and the extraordinary. Stress is so prominent that doctors no longer advise trying to avoid it, but rather learning to negotiate with it so life can actually move forward.
It is no secret, however, that stress can and does get the better of many individuals. On any given day, minute-by-minute expectations often spiral uncontrollably. Many doctors now agree that relief may be provided from holy basil. This is a sacred herb related to sweet basil and native to India. In that country, persons have used holy basil for thousands of years as a remedy for the mind, body and soul. Today, holy basil shows exceptional promise in relieving stress as well.
The Correlation Between Stress and Holy Basil
During stress, the body’s flight or fight response automatically triggers to provide energy for accurate reaction. That additional energy is provided by stress hormones released by the adrenal gland. Cortisol, adrenaline and corticosterone all help to hone focus, improve mental clarity and evoke decisive action. In a sense, therefore, stress can be beneficial in meeting deadlines or achieving goals.
Chronic stress, however, is problematic in a variety of ways. Stress hormones at continually increased levels impair digestive function, damage the nervous system and suppress the immune system. While the body’s natural stress response is an important survival mechanism, persons do not need such a response to everyday situations. Weight gain, depression and disease can readily ensue when stress and cortisol are mixed every day.
Holy basil is considered an adaptogen that enhances the body’s automatic stress response. Adaptogens normalize body processes to maintain optimal function. As such, holy basil does not alter mood but rather helps the body work optimally in times of angst. Multiple studies demonstrate that holy basil actually decreases stress hormones, particularly cortisol. When this hormone is reduced, researchers have confirmed that the body remains much calmer.
How Holy Basil Works
In studies, holy basil has proven to normalize neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Holy basil also inhibits COX-2inflammatory enzymes, which are active during inflammatory states. In addition to stabilizing the body, holy basil also can increase physical and emotional endurance. This is naturally achieved by lowering blood sugar levels and stimulating weight loss with reduced emissions of cortisol.
Cortisol signals the body to produce glucose from amino acids, which in turns increases blood sugar levels. By stabilizing cortisol during stress, holy basil prevents both the associated mood changes as well as health complications that result from high blood sugar. Researchers estimate that more than half of all Americans suffer from stress-related complications in the form of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Reducing the body’s response to daily stress, therefore, may correct a multitude of health problems as well.
Studies that Prove the Efficacy of Holy Basil
In the last ten years, numerous scientific studies have examined and proven the anti-stress components of holy basil. In one study, an herbal preparation that consisted of standardized holy basil extract and three other Ayurvedic herbs noticeably improved the body’s ability to adapt to stress.
Throughout the test, subjects were faced with stressful events that induced elevated levels of stress hormones. When the herbal combination was administered, however, each patient showed a return to normal hormone levels. The test also revealed that holy basil exhibits preventative measures against stress. The on-going administration of the herbal mixture consistently reduced hormone levels following exposure to a stressful event.
Several studies have also examined the independent effects of holy basil. When subjects took holy basil supplements, they exhibited dramatically reduced levels of corticosterone. In turn, the body was equipped to better handle everyday stresses. Persons who received the supplements reported elevated mood and improved mental clarity. Throughout many parts of the world, holy basil continues to be used regularly for the treatment of stress and stress-related disorders.
Holy Basil as a Remedy for Stress (www.hellolife.net)^ http://www.health-prism.com/integrative-herbal-stress-control.html (www.health-prism.com)^ http://www.medicinehunter.com/HolyBasil.htm (www.medicinehunter.com)^ http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA346157/holy-basil-to-combat-stress.html (www.drweil.com)^