Called Tulsi in India, Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) is a powerful herb with a medicinal history going back thousands of years. Holy Basil has been used in traditional medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments including sore throat, fever, and generalized pain. The herb contains several potent chemical compounds whose full list of applications modern research is only now beginning to discover. Both ursolic and oleonic acid show promise against cancer cells, and rosmarinic acid is well known for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory abilities. Additional studies suggest that Holy Basil may offer an inexpensive defense against radiation toxicity, and current ongoing studies suggest that some Ocimum strains may confer cardio-protective health benefits.123
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is one of the most important herbs in the Ayurvedic discipline. A cousin of the tomato, it grows in temperate climates, produces yellow flowers, and bears a smaller reddish fruit about the size of a marble. In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse”, and some Ayurvedic practitioners say the herb is so-called for its ability to impart the strength and vitality of a stallion. Ashwagandha has long been used as a palliative and is frequently compared to Ginseng for its immunogenic abilities. Ashwaganhda contains a number of potent medicinal compounds, alkaloids, amino acids, and clinical research has shown that the herb has numerous health benefits. Indeed, various studies have shown that it can reduce stress, moderate blood sugar, decrease cholesterol levels, reduce anxiety, and enhance memory. Additional research has also shown strong preliminary data that ashwagandha may slow the growth of cancer cells. 4
Trikatu is another staple of Ayurvedic medicine– but it is not a single herb, but a blend of ginger and two different species of pepper: black pepper and its more obscure cousin, long pepper. Trikatu is designed to improve gastric function and aid digestion. Trikatu is thought to work by directly stimulating digestive enzymes and encouraging more efficient nutrient absorption. Higher absorption rates can enhance the bioavailability of other nutrients and medicines. It’s also used to help neutralize toxins and undesirable contaminants, and scientific studies have confirmed that the kind of antioxidants contained within Trikatu are an effective way to combat poisons. Trikatu’s pungent quality also acts on the respiratory system to help clear mucus from the body.5
Modern science is continuing to investigate the effects of Trikatu, as well as analogues like Bioperine, a standardized extract of piperine, the principal active component in both Black and Long Peppers. Piperine derivatives and herbs like Ginger target intestinal receptors to increase the system’s blood flow and help with the uptake of nutrient absorption.