Holy Basil for Anxiety: Natural Stress Relief
I imagine if you are familiar with Italian cooking you may occasionally throw a handful of basil into your Bolognese. Likewise, you may add some Thai basil to your green curry for a distinct Thai flavor.
However, Holy basil is a little different. It is otherwise known as Ocimum tenuiflorum, Ocimum sanctum L. and tulsi, is mostly consumed as Tulsi tea, and it has been used for centuries in traditional medicines in South East Asia to treat a variety of conditions, from stomach disorders to low mood.
As you have maybe guessed (the word ‘holy’ may have given it away!), it has spiritual significance, particularly in Ayurvedic practice, which derives from the Hindu religion.
Many Hindus use holy basil in their homes and others wear jewelry made from the stalks of the plant, in honor of the goddess Tulsi, who is said to be incarnated in holy basil.
In Ayurvedic medicine, holy basil is often made into tea, which can be drunk daily, as it is naturally caffeine free. It is said to be as good for your well-being as a Yoga session.
It has to be said that the plant can be bitter and is not to everybody’s taste. As such, it can be used in tablet and other forms.
Different parts of the holy basil plant can also be used to treat different disorders and diseases. For example, the flowers can be used for bronchitis, and ointment made from the plant will treat eczema. Likewise, the plant has a very good nutritional profile, with high levels of chlorophyll and calcium, for example.
Recently, holy basil has become popular as a treatment for anxiety.
According to the Chopra Foundation tea made with holy basil is effective in this way. Start by steeping two teaspoons of holy basil with water for 5 minutes. Strain and then drink.
Also, one can nibble on some holy basil leaves to de-stress, or even grow your own and use it as you wish.
However, one thing you must be aware of is that some studies have suggested that it may have a mild negative effect on fertility, so if you are concerned about this, or if you are pregnant, you may want to speak to your physician or in some cases avoid holy basil.
Our Favorite Holy Basil Supplements to Reduce Anxiety:
Organic India Tulsi
Extremely popular choice
Holy Basil Essential Oil
Ideal for aromatherapy
Bulksupplements Pure Holy Basil Powder
How does Holy Basil help to Treat Anxiety?
Stress is normal. It is the result of the ‘flight or fight’ response, which is an evolutionary instinct that has been useful in the survival of humans for hundreds of thousands of years.
When something dangerous happened, for example when a lion chased a Neanderthal, the adrenal gland would release stress hormones, for example cortisol, which would help the Neanderthal escape.
However, the trouble comes when the flight or fight response is inappropriate to the situation, e.g. when you are merely going about your normal life, and no lion is chasing you; you may for example be nipping to Wallmart to buy some bread.
Some stress is useful and important, and it may help you complete tasks or run from the lion. However, too much, or stressing out when situations do not call for it, is damaging, and this is where supplements such as holy basil come in. They can help you manage the stress that may be holding your back from being the best version of yourself.
So, how does holy basil work? Does it work?
The holy basil plant acts as an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body and nervous system to adapt to stress. Studies in both human and animals have shown a reduction in the physical symptoms of stress and greater performance of participants during stressful situations.
There have been studies suggesting its effectiveness in treating anxiety and stress. For example the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative medicine claims after research that holy basil can treat anxiety and depression in a way comparable to diazepam. Those who took 500mg in the study felt less stress, anxiety and depression and also felt more social.
Likewise, according to Medicine Hunter supplementing with holy basil, and this is backed up by many studies, can decrease stress hormones, particularly corticosterone.
If you have less of this stress hormone in your body, you are likely to feel greater mental clarity, have improved memory, and, in the long term, you may not experience as rapid age-related mental decline. Scientific research has shown that it possibly works through increasing eugenol in your body, which has been shown to combat stress and increase cognitive function.
There appears to be quite strong evidence for the efficacy of holy basil in treating anxiety. However, what do users say?
What Dosage of Holy Basil should I take for Anxiety?
One difficulty that users often come up against when taking supplements is dosage. How much Holy Basil should your take?
- Well, to some extent this depends upon the form in which you take it (as a tea, the fresh herb, or as a capsule) but there are some general guidelines.
- Dried holy basil is most often put into tea, and around 2g twice daily is a perfect amount, particularly if you are using this for stress or anxiety reduction or as an antioxidant.
- Dry extract should be used in the dosage of 300mg to 600mg, though of course check the label.
If you are using holy basil drops, which is mostly made by mixing the herb with a base alcohol, then 30 drops is the usual dose, depending on the brand.
Your dosage though will obviously depend upon a number of factors: the source of the supplement, your needs, your body type and also some other variables.
For example, your should exercise caution and seek medical advice if your are pregnant or breastfeeding. As well as this, if you have low blood sugar or low blood pressure, you should take the supplement with food due to the risk of holy basil making you lightheaded.
However, in general you do not need to worry you much if you take the supplement regularly, as the consensus is that holy basil is safe and can be taken regularly.
What are the other Health Benefits of Holy Basil?
Holy basil is able to help you with your anxiety. However, it also has many other applications, which you could see as a bonus or as an additional reason to take the supplement.
Though the treatment of anxiety is the most famous application of holy basil, and in Ayurvedic medicine anxiety has been treated for centuries using holy basil, other applications include;
Helps treat cancer – The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the antioxidant activity found that the antioxidant activity reduces the risk of cancer.
Good for your skin – The anti microbial properties of holy basil are good for your skin, and can reduce or alleviate skin conditions such as acne.
Helps you stay svelte – According to Ayurvedic practice, because holy basil helps your mind stay centered, it can help you to make smart food decisions and help you in your quest to lose weight.
Good for your teeth – Again, due to its antimicrobial properties holy basil can be good for your dental health, and this has been confirmed by a leading Ayurvedic journal.
Can reduce glucose in diabetic patients – Studies, including one published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics have shown that holy basil can help to regulate blood sugar in diabetic patients, which is potentially a lifesaver for those suffering from diabetes.
So, as we have seen holy basil can have a variety of positive effects for its users. What is more, it is completely natural and has bee used safely by consumers for millennia, so why not give it a try?
What are the Recommended Holy Basil Supplements for Anxiety?
ORGANIC INDIA Tulsi
This organic supplement is extremely popular. This supplement is claimed to be formulated so it is bioactive. Therefore, its benefits will be readily available to your body. Many users have been positive about this product, with some pros including;
•Helps with anxiety
•Helps with menstrual cramps and pain
One user called the supplement a ‘blessing’, and said that it has given them their life back, and that they could finally see a light at the end of their tunnel. They said that they felt that they could use it to replace a prescription antidepressant.
They did, though, caution that they had only been using the supplement for two days. Many others have been similarly positive about the supplement, with 4/5 of users giving an extremely positive review of the capsules.
Holy Basil Essential Oil
This supplement comes in the form of an essential oil that can be inhaled instead of taken in capsule form. Whilst there are relatively few users of this product because it is quite new on the market, the initial customer feedback has been very positive.
For example, one user claims that it helps them to relax after a long day at work, and others have said that they enjoy the scent and they think it is good value.
However, some claim that it does not smell of tulsi or holy basil and that they were disappointed with the smell, and others have said that this product simply does not compare with the offerings of other brands, which are more effective for treating anxiety as well as other conditions.
Bulksupplements Pure Holy Basil Powder
This holy basil supplement is in powder form. This makes it perfect for those who want to add nutrients to your smoothie or to other things such as soup or salads. Most have been positive about this supplement.
For example, one user outlines that their anxiety has reduced a great deal in two weeks, though they do so that they had also been taking another supplement, so it could be the culprit.
Another user has claimed that the powder has allowed them to feel more calm and alert, whilst others have spoke about the company itself, praising the quality of their products.
Others have noted some negatives, such as the fact that the supplement has so far had little effect, and one has claimed that the product is not holy basil, but merely basil.
In Summary: Holy Basil for Anxiety
As we have learnt, holy basil is not the type of basil that your mom would put into her famous ragu. For a start it is not particularly tasty, having a characteristic bitter taste.
However, it has numerous health benefits and potential positive impacts on your overall well-being, and it has been used as a live-giving elixir in various communities, in particular amongst Hindus, for centuries.
Research shows, and consumer testimony attests to the fact, that holy basil is particularly effective for treating anxiety. Also, it is completely natural, and so there is no reason why you should not give it a try.