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In Search of Stress Relief? Try Holy Basil

Let's face it, stress is unavoidable. Our bodies are constantly scanning for danger and are primed to fight or run whenever it's sensed. This stress response was designed to increase our chances of survival in life-ordeath situations by shifting the body's metabolism away from repair and regeneration to energy expenditure. The heart beats faster, blood pressure increases, blood sugar is released rather than metabolized, and digestion shuts down so that blood is kept in the periphery for the muscles to use. Overall, it is an impressive, unconscious response orchestrated by hormones, namely cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.

The problem is that most aspects of our modern lifestyles register in the body as unsafe: The polluted air we breathe, the electromagnetic radiation to which we are exposed, and the pressures of work and family. Each of these elements and more keep the body in a constant state of stress, and chronic stress wreaks havoc on the entire body. It damages the cardiovascular system, suppresses the immune system, creates hormonal imbalances, interferes with sleep, promotes bone loss, accelerates aging, and creates blood sugar imbalances that may lead to obesity and diabetes. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 90% of all illnesses in America are caused or aggravated by stress.

The good news is that Mother Nature offers us herbs with the ability to make the body more resilient to the damaging effects of stress. These herbs are most fittingly termed "adaptogens." Similar to physical conditioning, whereby the body develops strength and flexibility over time so that it can perform better when challenged, adaptogens condition the nervous system to deal with a broad range of stressors and quickly return to a state of balance once the stressor goes away, without robbing the body of vital energy.

A particularly effective herbal adaptogen, called Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum), has reigned supreme for the last 5,000 years in India. So with the additional stress of the holidays right around the corner, now is the perfect time to share the intriguing story and impressive researched benefits of this enlightening stress remedy.

Holy Basil or Tulsi is a sacred herb in the Hindu religion and is considered a main pillar of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian traditional system of medicine. Found in nearly every household and Hindu temple in India, its leaves are consumed daily to promote harmony, serenity, good health, and luck. In meditation practices, Holy Basil is used to help achieve states of higher consciousness or enlightenment.

Holy Basil is similar to culinary basil (Ocimum basilicum), but provides a more medicinally interesting array of phytochemicals. Its essential oil content imparts a distinctive sweet clove-like aroma and provides powerful antimicrobial and antiinflammatory effects. The herb is one of the richest sources of ursolic acid, a phytochemical with antioxidant properties being heavily researched for its ability to support detoxification, promote a healthy inflammation response and normal cell growth of the breast, lung, endometrial, colon, and skin.

When researchers in India decided to study Holy Basil, they weren't surprised to find that the herb believed to be a protector of life is in fact the perfect adaptogen. Holy Basil was found to prevent stressinduced biochemical changes in animals, improve energy levels and endurance, support healthy immune function, and promote healthy gastric tissue, subject to damage during times of stress.

Unlike the poisons that often become tempting in the face of stress (i.e. coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol) and other more stimulating adaptogens, like ginseng, Holy Basil promotes a peaceful state of alertness and focus. In fact, its balancing effect on brain chemistry makes it a perfect remedy for supporting emotional health.

Finally, a review of Holy Basil would not be complete without mentioning its modulatory effects on blood sugar demonstrated in multiple human studies. This is good news for those who suffer from sugar cravings and are working toward maintaining a healthy metabolism, especially during the holidays.

New Chapter's Supercritical Holy Basil is the world's only dual-extracted Holy Basil grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers in pristine meadows bordering the Himalayas. It is Potency Assured™ to provide the full spectrum of the herb's phytonutrients guaranteed to nurture all aspects of mind and body. It works best when you remember to breathe! Ahhhh…

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