In Ayurveda, whenever an herb is given names like the “Queen of Herbs,” “The Incomparable One,” the “Elixir of Life” or the “Mother Medicine of Nature,” you know that the herb is special.
The science on tulsi holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is now revealing why this herb has been revered for so many thousands of years.
Like neem, aka the “Village Pharmacy,” tulsi holy basil also works on the microbial level to address the build-up of microbial biofilms. By working on this most subtle and profound level, both of these herbs are well-documented to support the body in so many ways. It is hard to find a system of the body that these are not studied to support! (9)
Biofilms are like shields that protect colonies of microbes and allow them to populate without risk of invasion. The hard plaque on your teeth, for example, is a biofilm.
While both beneficial and harmful bacteria build protective biofilms, emerging science suggests biofilms are linked to a host of health concerns. (1,2)
Tulsi Holy Basil Fights Biofilm
Tulsi has many constituents, but the two most well-known that may explain the broad spectrum benefits of this herb are eugenol and ursolic acid. Both are known biofilm disruptors and powerful cleansers. (3,4,5,6,7,8)
Eugenol has been found antagonize biofilms in the mouth. (3) Ursolic acid has a more extensive biofilm resume and disrupts numerous bacterial strains of biofilm in concert with many other synergistic constituents of tulsi holy basil. (3,4,5,6,7,8)
One of the most effective ways to disrupt bacterial biofilm build-up is through a process called Quorum Sensing (QR). For a community of bacteria to manufacture a layer of biofilm-like plaque in the mouth, they need to work together and communicate. Quorum Sensing Inhibitors (QRIs) are natural agents that block communication between the bacteria and prevent them from creating bacterial colonies within isolative biofilms. (8)
Ursolic acid has been found to be a powerful QRI (herbal agent) that blocks the bacteria from communication and/or isolating themselves into biofilm protective colonies. (8)
Getting the Most Out of Your Tulsi Holy Basil
Many of the constituents of tulsi holy basil are stable and available in dried and ground leaf form, as you would find in a tea or whole herb capsule. But with tulsi holy basil, some of the more powerful constituents that support the inner skin, the microbiome, and the ability to block biofilms are volatile—which means they are lost when the herb is dried.
So in this case, a tulsi extract would perhaps be a better choice. Of course, then, you have a sterile product missing all the natural microbial benefits a raw, whole herb would provide.
Growing your own tulsi is a champion idea! You can pick the leaves fresh every day and get all of the benefits tulsi holy basil has to offer.
At LifeSpa, to capture all of the beneficial constituents in tulsi holy basil including the volatiles and naturally-occurring beneficial microbes, we combine the raw, microbe-rich, organic, dried-then-ground whole leaf as well as the leaf extract to capture the delicate volatiles lost in the drying process.
Break Up With Biofilms
Whether the biofilm is made from harmful or beneficial bacteria—isolation of any one species is not in the best interest of the whole.
Inhibiting the production of biofilm is critical for the gut microbiome to act with the power of the whole microbiome in concert with the whole of the body. When cells or bacteria isolate themselves, they soon start to function independently and separate from the whole.
Much like nationalism as a form of isolationism may sound good to some in the short-term, the long-term impact can be a negative for the whole. One of the most recent and well-accepted theories to explain why the human brain tripled in size is that it was not because of cooking, meat, fishing or hunting, it was as a result of tribes becoming communities—the more brains working together, the better.
Studies show that our brain potential surges when we are in community.
As the world keeps getting smaller, we will realize someday that we are all one people—human beings that must work in harmony with each other and with the earth. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts!