We understand now more than ever the connection between stress and weight gain, but it can seem difficult to tackle both issues at once.
For a solution, look to one of the main herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine known to help you feel and look your best -- holy basil.
About Holy Basil
Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum L.) is a plant native to India whose seeds, leaves and stems are used to produce medicine. In Ayurveda, holy basil is referred to as tulsi, which means "the incomparable one." This herb has a spicier taste than traditional basil used in cooking, with some comparing it to clove. Considered a sacred plant in India, this herb has been used to treat everything from the common cold to the flu, asthma, diabetes, skin conditions and digestive issues. However, it's most common use is for stress.
Holy Basil for Stress
This herb has been used for centuries for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety while also balancing mood. Holy basil is credited with controlling cortisol production, which is "the stress hormone." By inhibiting cortisol production, the body responds better to stress in all aspects. Stress weakens the immune system, raises the blood pressure and causes weight gain, among other negative side effects. This action within the body is what earns holy basil the title of "adaptogen," meaning it helps the body better adapt to various stressors that can compromise health.
Holy Basil for Weight Loss
Holy basil is recommended for weight loss because of those stress-reducing properties. Among its various side effects, one negative action of cortisol is cause weight gain in the abdomen. When the body is under stress, it goes into fight-or-flight mode and sends out the signal to hold onto all energy sources, storing the food you take in as fat to protect the body. This fat typically collects around the abdomen, putting pressure on the internal organs and taxing them. Carrying too much weight on the abdomen is particularly dangerous for the heart and can increase risk for heart attack and heart disease.
Because of it's impact on stress as well as weight management, Dr. Natasha Turner, author of The Supercharged Hormone Diet, also recommends taking a holy basil supplement daily for at least a month to help reduce cortisol and shed fat. Dr. Turner recommended the supplement especially for individuals who carry extra weight in the mid section. (Editor's Note: Dr. Turner is not affiliated with eVitamins and doesn't recommend any specific supplements or brands.)
The majority of studies involving holy basil have been conducted on animals at this point, so further research is needed to determine its exact action within the body and any proven benefits.
How to Get It
Holy basil supplements are available in a variety of strengths. You can find them in capsule and softgel form, sold individually and in blends. Holy basil tea is also available that you can sip on throughout the day to calm yourself. There is no average recommended dose for this herbal supplement, so it's best to start with a lower dose and progress if desired.
As always, it's important to remember that natural supplements require use for at least one month to start seeing results and the same formulas aren't right for everyone. Speak with your doctor before adding a holy basil supplement to your routine if you're pregnant, breastfeeding or being treated for a medical condition like chronic stress, anxiety or depression. In you're going to be having surgery, stop taking holy basil two weeks before.
Shop for a wide variety of holy basil products at eVitamins and let us know how they work for you. Have a great week!