Holy basil is a plant grown in India and Southeast Asia and prized for its potent medicinal qualities.
It is a cornerstone herb in Ayurveda medicine and the Hindu religion. It is known as an elixir of life.
Holy Basil is becoming increasingly popular in Western cultures for its ability to reduce stress and promote overall wellness by boosting the immune system.
It can reduce inflammation, reduce blood sugar and potentially prevent cancer.
What is Holy Basil?
Holy basil is an adaptogen, an herb that helps you adapt to stress and promotes homeostasis or equilibrium in the body.
It restores psychological and physiological function by helping the body cope with physical, chemical, emotional and infectious stresses.
It acts as an antimicrobial, anti-diarrheal, and anti-oxidant. It protects the nervous system and cardiovascular system, reduces blood sugar, prevents cancer, reduces inflammation and pain, treats hypertension, and some people even use it as a mosquito repellant.
The seeds, leaves, and stalks of the holy basil plant are all used to make the supplement. The plant can be dried and made into a pill or capsule, or brewed as a tea.
It can be made into an essential oil as well. It is sold in health food and nutritional supplement stores and can be legally bought, sold and grown throughout the world.
There are few, if any, other herbal supplements that provide the breadth of benefits that holy basil does. Many people who take it for one issue are surprised to find that many other symptoms or concerns are improved as well.
Holy basil is venerated in the Hindu religion and is often planted outside of Hindu shrines, where it is worshiped in the morning and evening. It is considered to be the goddess Tulsi’s earthly manifestation. (Tulsi was a worshipper of the god Vishnu.)
Other names for Holy Basil
Holy basil is also known as Tulsi or Tulasi, or ocimum sanctum. Its biological name is ocimum tenuiflorum. It is sometimes referred to as The Queen of Herbs or Mother Nature of Medicine.
Holy basil is known as ‘the incomparable one,’ which may seem like an overstatement. But given all the things that this herb does, it is quite apt.
It’s often used for stress and anxiety, but it also benefits the digestive system, nervous system, and cardiovascular system.
I first used holy basil because I was having trouble sleeping. I had a lot of stress in my life, and anxiety was getting in the way of a good night’s sleep.
Taking holy basil made it much easier for me to fall asleep and I slept soundly all night long. I was concerned that it would cause me to feel drowsy, but it doesn’t.
I wake fully rested and have no trouble getting up at the appropriate time. During the day, I have greater mental clarity and less anxiety.
Many people have a hard time believing that this product will do all the things people say it does, but I have heard of it being effective for lowering blood sugar, reducing inflammation and joint pain, and even preventing cancer.
People take holy basil for many different conditions, but nearly all report that it helps with their overall wellness too. It is fast-acting, with many people reporting that they experience a positive result the first day they take it.
There are no apparent ill effects
when taking it over long periods of time.
In the few cases I’ve heard of where people were unhappy with the results, the reason was that the product did not work for them. No supplement works for everyone.
Holy Basil Reviews
There are many reports of successful use of holy basil on the internet. This is common for herbs and natural supplements, but the surprising thing to me was that there are very few negative reviews.
Any negative reviews were simply that the product didn’t work. On The Essential Herbal Blog, Tima Sams says:
“Holy basil has become the very first herb I reach for in almost any situation.”
Holy Basil Reduces Stress and Anxiety
It is an adaptogen, which means that it helps your body to adapt to stress.
Stress creates a ‘fight or flight’ response in your body, which was helpful to cave dwellers and other ancient peoples, as their stress was typically the result of the threat of attack, either by other humans or by an animal.
The ‘fight or flight’ response may not be appropriate today, when your stress may be caused by a demanding boss or a whiny child. The pressures of modern life add to our stress, and it can often interfere with our quality of life.
Stress can be physical, chemical, infectious or emotional, and holy basil works well on all of these kinds of stress.
It increases your endurance, reduces your body’s reaction to high levels of harmful chemicals or toxins, helps wounds heal faster and calms and centers your mind.
Holy basil reduces blood sugar by enhancing insulin secretion. It can reduce the metabolic stress that contributes to diabetes, obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol. Holy basil is effective in treating metabolic syndrome, or prediabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects over 12% of adults over age 20 in the United States and is the seventh leading cause of death.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common type, is largely preventable by maintaining blood sugar levels within established parameters. Holy basil reduces blood sugar, making it easier for people to keep theirs within a healthy range
The toxic effect of chemicals, such as mercury, lead, and arsenic, can be reduced by taking holy basil. It can also protect against the effects of radiation including organ damage.
Research shows that Holy Basil can enhance the survival of lab animals after radiation exposure.
Holy basil also reduces inflammation, which can reduce or eliminate joint pain. It is also an antimicrobial, so it can be used to eliminate infections and speed healing after an injury or surgery.
It is even used as a remedy for snake or scorpion bites, and as a mosquito repellant.
In large doses, holy basil increases testosterone. Paradoxically, it also reduces fertility.
How It Works
Holy basil contains many ingredients that are beneficial to our health and well being. It includes eugenol, an antiseptic and anesthetic that also has anti-cancerous properties.
Uursolic acid, which is believed to increase muscle mass and decrease fat mass; bioflavonoids, which act as physiological regulators; ocimarin and ocimumosides A and B for stress reduction; and rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant.
The seeds, leaves, and stems of the holy basil plant are used to make the supplement. The plant is dried and made into a tablet or capsule.
It can also be steeped in hot water to make tea, or reconstituted in oil to make an essential oil. It can also be used in cooking, but don’t confuse it with Thai basil or sweet basil, which are cooking herbs and do not contain the medicinal properties of holy basil.
Most users report that the effects are felt almost immediately, often the first day you begin taking the supplement. They appear to last as long as you continue to take it.
As a supplement, holy basil is typically available in 500mg capsules. Most people take two to three capsules a day for general health and reduced stress. The effect is dependent on body weight so that a 200-lb person might need 1,500-2,900mg.
In larger doses, holy basil boosts testosterone. A 200-lb person would need about 7,300mg per day to experience this effect.
Holy basil has a few side effects. It can cause excessive bleeding, low blood sugar, and decreased fertility.
If you are taking aspirin or a blood-thinning medication like Coumadin, check with your physician before taking holy basil.
Taking these two medications together could thin your blood to the point where you would be unable to stop any bleeding that might occur.
If you have diabetes and are taking medication that lowers your blood sugar, holy basil may lower it to an unsafe level.
Holy basil can decrease fertility, so if you are trying to become pregnant, you may want to avoid taking it. If you are already pregnant, check with your health care provider before taking it.
Hazardous interactions have been reported by those who take pentobarbital, a sedative, along with holy basil.
Results have been mixed for those with chronic fatigue syndrome who take holy basil. Some report significant ill effects while others have gotten great benefit from it.
If you have CFS, check with your healthcare provider before taking it, start with a small amount and pay close attention to your body’s reaction.
Other supplements that stack well with holy basil include:
- Siberian ginseng for improved memory and increased longevity
- Ashwagandha for its restorative and healing properties
- Licorice root which acts as an anti-depressant
- Reishi or astragalus to boost the immune system
- Wild schizandra berry, which lowers inflammation.
All of these remedies support adrenal function so that they will intensify the stress-reducing benefits of holy basil. For this reason, you may be able to reduce the amount of holy basil you take when stacking it with other supplements.
Be sure to follow the recommended dosages of the other supplements when using them in combination.
For insomnia, you can stack holy basil with 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan. These remedies work like serotonin to help you to fall asleep more naturally and sleep through the night.
The holy basil reduces stress and stops you mind from racing, which is a common cause of insomnia. This combination provides better sleep quality and fewer disturbing dreams than melatonin in many people.
Kavaor Piper Methysticin, is an anti-anxiety supplement that increases GABA to reduce anxiety. It is typically brewed as a tea.
Kava works well for anxiety but does not have the other benefits that are found in holy basil, such as the ability to lower blood sugar and blood pressure, or the anti-inflammatory qualities.
Magnesium, in either the threonate or glycinate form, is an effective treatment for anxiety. It also reduces stress, relaxes sore muscles, lowers blood pressure and can help treat type 2 diabetes.
3. Medical marijuana
That’s right, your friendly neighborhood herb provides many of the same benefits as holy basil but has some undesirable effects that holy basil does not have, such as the trademark ‘high’ and the potential for psychological addiction.
Holy basil provides the additional benefits of boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation and fighting toxins.
Also, holy basil is more easily obtained and less regulated than medical marijuana, and does not require a prescription.
Holy basil reduces stress, boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation, lowers blood sugar and promotes overall wellness.
There are few products, either herbal or synthetic, that provide the litany of health benefits of holy basil. It is easy to take in the form of a capsule or tincture, or steeped as tea.
It has very few side effects, making it a good choice for nearly anyone who wants to improve their overall health and wellbeing. It can be taken with many other supplements and is not habit-forming or addictive.