Did You Know…that there’s an aromatic plant which offers an alternative that rival those of medical marijuana treatment—without the side effects or the necessity for a prescription? This same medicinal plant also protects against inflammation, stress, and even radiation poisoning.
In Asia, holy basil(Ocimum sanctum, O. tenuiflorum) has been cultivated for medicinal use for over 5,000 years.
Today, Western scientists have caught on to the herb’s natural anti-inflammatory properties. Chemically speaking, basil (in numerous tested varieties) contains compounds similar to those found in cannabis (also known as marijuana) and oregano.
This has led some doctors to suggest basil as an alternative to medical marijuana, since it offers the same pain relief without the addictive “high”.
An Alternative to Medical Marijuana: Curbing Inflammation Without the Side Effects
Although most people regard cannabis only as the recreational substance that has been the drug of choice since the 60s, medicinal use of marijuana dates back approximately 10,000 years to a prehistoric village that was discovered in Taiwan in 1972.
In 2008, experts published findings on an archaeological dig in Central Asia that has uncovered evidence of the use of cannabis by a prehistoric medicine man about 27,000 years ago.
Currently, tens of thousands of seriously ill Americans (especially those with cancer and AIDS) are now physician-certified users of medical marijuana because it provides effective pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation … as well as an amazing number of other medicinal uses.
However, the use of medical marijuana does come with potentially permanent mental or neurological side effects, such as …
• Impaired attention
• Difficulty learning
• Decreased computing speed
• Changes to brain structure
• Decreased motor skills
Holy basil carries none of those risks as an alternative to medical marijuana. That’s because basil’s anti-inflammatory action comes from a compound called BCP, or (E)-beta-caryophyllene. BCP combats inflammation in a manner similar to cannabis, but without the side effects.
Basil is recommended by The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) as a first-line treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder … bulimia … and hypoglycemia. According to UMMC, basil may even protect the body from harmful radiation exposure.
Basil’s aromatic extracts have also proven to eliminate swelling and pain from arthritis. In fact, research has demonstrated that basil works just as well as anti-inflammatory drugs.
The study—presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester—showed that concentrated extracts of two types of basil taken orally reduced joint swelling by up to 73% in just 24 hours.
Power That’s Stood the Test of Time
In India, holy basil has been considered one of the most powerful herbs for nearly 3,000 years. It’s said to be sacred to the Hindu god Vishnu, and classified as a rasayana an herb that promotes long life and personal growth and health.
Holy basil is a mainstay of traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It is used to treat ailments such as:
- Respiratory disorders
The Science Behind Basil’s Curative Power
Basil’s efficacy against such a wide range of ailments is due not only to BCP, but also to the cinnamanic acid it contains. Cinnamanic acid is known to enhance circulation…stabilize blood sugar…and improve respiration. Most research on basil has focused on those 3 areas.
In animal studies and human clinical trials, basil has proved to be a powerful adaptogen with potent benefits that are:
• Radioprotective (prevents damage from ionizing radiation)
• Stress and anxiety reducing
• Antibacterial and antiviral
Several studies have confirmed holy basil’s anti-inflammatory action. Its compounds inhibit the production of inflammatory prostaglandins—molecules that produce pain and fevers. By reducing prostaglandins, basil reduces pain and inflammation in the body.
How to Use Basil for Medicinal Purposes
One passionate advocate for basil’s medicinal benefits is Dr. Narendra Singh, a pioneer in modern scientific investigation of Ayurvedic and medicinal herbs of India.
Among other prestigious posts, Dr. Singh is the former Head of the Regional Ayurvedic Research Institute (Government of India, Department of Health).
Specifically, Dr. Singh focuses on the adaptogenic and anti-stress properties of medicinal herbs. With regard to basil, Dr. Singh recommends taking a single dose of 300mg to 600mg of dried leaves daily as preventative therapy and immune system support.
For curative therapy, he suggests taking 600mg to 1800mg in divided doses. Alternately, holy basil can be prepared as a tea (2 grams per cup). This brew is an excellent preventive remedy against common illnesses. It also works to treat many of the health issues described earlier.
Dr. Singh notes that the biological and neurological effects of taking holy basil, such as increased stamina and a heightened immunological defense, may take anywhere from 1 week to 1 month to develop.
However, once basil’s effects take hold, the improvements can last as long as 1 month even after discontinuation of the therapy.