Holy Basil = Stress Control

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JAWAHAR NIDAMBOOR

What do you do in the face of stress? Try a new way out. This is because the common practice of reaching for a steaming cup of coffee is no relief — in reality, it is an invite for trouble. A cup of coffee can trigger cortisol — a hormone — levels to rise to above normal levels. The escalation is sustained for almost 48 hours. When cortisol goes up, blood sugar levels rise, and inflammation levels also shoot up — enough reason for cortisol to be linked with increased risk of high blood pressure, cancer, premature aging, and diabetes, all leading maladies of our time.

There are several ways for one to keep cortisol on hold. Naturally. Exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques, and visualisation are extremely useful methods. However, there is something Mother Nature has that no other remedy can offer. Holy basil, or tulsi [in Sanskrit] can help bring down your cortisol levels — without the adverse side-effects of prescription medications.

It goes without saying that chronic anxiety and depression sufferers experience more stress than normal healthy individuals. The two severely hinder normal coping skills and also unimportant problems can appear too large, or difficult to handle. When people are better able to cope with stress, their stress-dictated conditions also improve. Life becomes less stressful. Research has demonstrated that holy basil can radically and speedily improve anxiety and depression in many individuals.

HOW IT WORKS

Holy basil reduces stress and cortisol levels better than any other herbal or nutritional remedy, and also without harmful side-effects. It works by inhibiting COX-2 inflammatory enzymes — enzymes which play an active role in inflammatory states. Besides this, holy basil has the capacity to increase physical and emotional endurance. As already mentioned, it lowers blood sugar levels, which, in turn, reduces your fondness for sweets. By reducing cortisol, it also helps in weight loss.

While chronically high cortisol levels are extremely dangerous and affect our physiological and psychological response to stress, holy basil is able to offset many of these effects. As you know, chronic stress does not allow us to use glucose. When this happens, it is natural that excess glucose may get stored as fat, around our waistline. Obesity is a significant risk factor for a large number of diseases. It is rightly said — the longer the belt, the shorter the life. This is not all. High blood glucose levels can significantly enhance the risk of type-2 diabetes.

Research has found that inflammation plays a key role in the development of heart disease and many other chronic disorders including cancer. Holy basil helps fight inflammation since it contains powerful anti-inflammatory agents called COX-2 inhibitors, which inhibit COX-2 inflammatory enzymes, as already cited. Another reason why inflammation can be so destructive is due to the upsurge of oxygen free radicals. Holy basil counters the problem by providing a rich supply of antioxidants.

AWARENESS EXPANDED

Holy basil, according to Ayurveda, facilitates expanded states of awareness. It is, on this score alone, quite unlike other herbs that improve mood or tranquillise [e.g., kava and passion flower]. It promotes internal balance, and brings into focus a comprehensive perspective that characterises higher states of our consciousness. Stress, as it is rightly said, is fashioned or side-stepped by our inner reaction to a given situation. Holy  basil nurtures and quietens the cause of stress at its root — in our mind. In so doing, it helps us to prevent stress before it gets the better of us.

Dosage: 1-2 [500mg] holy basil capsules, daily. This is best taken in the midst of a meal with a glass of water. Speak to your therapist to ‘personalise’ the dosage to suit your individual needs, or requirements.

WHAT IS STRESS

Stress is a feeling of tension. Nobody is exempt from stress. Stress can be both emotional and physical. The former usually occurs when situations are considered difficult, or insurmountable. However, not everyone responds to stress in the same manner — also, different people judge different situations as stressful. Physical stress refers to a physiological, or functional, reaction of the body to various triggers. Post-operative surgical pain is an example of physical stress. However, this type of stress can also lead to emotional stress, frequently experienced as physical discomfort [e.g., stomach pain].

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