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Holy Basil can Regulate Cortisol to Mediate Stress

(Health Secrets) Holy basil can normalize cortisol to mediate the stress response.  Why is this important?  New research is showing that the way we deal with stress in our environments, relationships and world view plays a significant role in disease outcomes, and can determine whether we are healthy or not.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone made in the adrenal glands.  It is behind the fight or flight response that keeps us out of danger.  The problem comes when stress becomes chronic and our bodies lose the natural cortisol rhythm.

Emma K. Adam, a lead investigator at the Institute of Poly Research and Northwestern University says “High levels of cortisol in the evenings are a kind of biological signature of a bad day” that can lead to disease. She noted that healthy stress systems are designed to translate social experiences into biological actions, and to be a conduit from the outside world to our internal worlds so that we can better respond to our social context.

Adam studied the physiological, social and emotional dynamics in the day-to-day experiences of 156 older adults, and found that those who went to bed lonely, sad or overwhelmed displayed elevated levels of cortisol shortly after waking in the morning.

Each night her participants recorded their feelings and activities in a diary.  Her research team then compared cortisol levels of each day to that day’s diary entries.  They found that life experiences such as anger throughout the day, or loneliness in the night resulted in persistent high levels of cortisol.  This is problematic because cortisol levels should fluctuate indicating there is a recovery from stress.

Persistent high levels of cortisol are associated with abdominal obesity, type 2 diabetes, and inflammation, which is the cause behind numerous disease states. Persistently high cortisol triggers glucose production causing blood sugar to rise, and fluctuations of the brain’s neurotransmitters leading to mood swings.

This research determined that persistently low levels of cortisol are problematic as well.  Those participants with persistant lower levels of cortisol in the morning experienced greater fatigue during the day.

The approach of Adam is new.  Rather than discussing the on average impact of cortisol on daily life experience and biology, she investigated the day-to-day stress experience.  The primary conclusion of her study is that people who have more negative emotions have higher levels of cortisol on a daily basis, and as a result are at elevated risk of disease.

Holy basil balances stress hormones and maintains health cortisol levels

Holy basil, also known as tulsi, is an adaptogen, a class of herbs that promotes normalization and balance throughout the body and provides protection from emotional, mental and environmental stresses.  Holy basil increases strength, stamina and endurance, and encourages efficient oxygen utilization while promoting protein synthesis in the body. In addition to balancing cortisol, holy basil helps maintain biologic equilibrium through its ability to modulate stress related biochemicals such as serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, and inflammatory mediators. Holy basil is useful for treating panic attacks.

Holy basil is a principal herb in the traditional holistic health system of Ayurveda.  It is a relative of the basil you probably have in your kitchen. In India, holy basil is planted in a pot indoors to protect the whole family from infections, coughs and cold, and other viral infections.  Holy basil has many other uses and is helpful in treating virtually all the diseases that afflict us.

If you choose to use an herbal preparation of holy basil, here are the recommended dosages:

Tincture:  (1:5 or 1:2) 40-60 drops, three times per day.

Tea:  Add 1 tsp, dried leaf to 8 oz. hot water, steep covered 5-10 minutes.  Take 4 oz. of tea up to three times per day.

Capsules:  Various forms of capsulated products are available.  These include extracts in gel caps, dried or powdered herb, and standardized extracts (2 percent ursolic acid).

Safety Issues:  Holy basil may be toxic to embryos, therefore avoid using it during pregnancy.  It is reported to have an anti-fertility effect and should e avoided if a women is trying to conceive.

Herb/drug interactions:  Preliminary studies indicate that holy basil may enhance CYP-450 activity, thus speeding up the elimination of some drug medications.

Beyond holy basil

Adam’s research conclusions are a powerful incentive for us to embrace empowerment and create personal interventions to deal with stress on a daily basis.  Meditation, self-hypnosis, proactive effort to reframe what is perceived as stressful, staying within our circles of influence, and establishing a pre-sleep ritual before going to bed can help reduce stress and its accompanying cortisol response.

For more information:

Published with permission from Alignlife.  Original article link is here.

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