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Holy Basil Benefits for Anxiety and Depression

Holy Basil Benefits for Joy and Calm

anxiety depression supplements Mar 31, 2021

by Henry Emmons, MD

*Please see important notes near bottom of page and remember, new products should not be started without your doctor’s knowledge and supervision.


“Holy basil”—what a great name! It has a nicer ring than its scientific name, Ocimum tenuiflorum, or even the ayurvedic term “tulsi.” I’ll stick with “holy basil.”*

Holy basil is another herb in the class of adaptogens, those broadly supportive tonic herbs. It’s known as a tonic for a host of health concerns from eczema to bronchitis to GI problems.*

Holy Basil Benefits*

A systematic review of holy basil found benefits that fall into three main areas:

  1. Reducing inflammation and strengthening the immune system.*
  2. Improving lipid metabolism, stabilizing blood sugar, and reducing insulin sensitivity (i.e. prediabetes).*
  3. Broadly positive impacts on mental health, reducing anxiety, improving stress tolerance, and possibly boosting mood.*

Personally, I love holy basil, and I’m not alone. In Ayurvedic medicine it has been called “liquid yoga.” That might be a stretch (punny!), but I do find it to be a helpful, gentle addition to calm the stress system and stabilize mood. 

Holy Basil Benefits for Anxiety and Depression*

How can you reduce the body’s reaction to stress? It’s an age-old question. Or, better put, how can you reduce the damage caused by a stress reaction run amok? Whether you have too much to be stressed about or your built-in emergency system won’t shut down, either way, it’s unpleasant and hard on your body.

Holy basil, a simple herbal adaptogen, may help at a number of levels. It can add a calming effect for an anxious mind and reduce the tendency to keep the stress response going. It can slow the release of cortisol, and once it is released, holy basil blocks the cortisol receptors, limiting the damage it can do.


Holy Basil Dosage and Use*

The typical dose range for holy basil is between 300 mg, taken two to three times daily. Consider lower doses for children (e.g. 100 mg twice daily). Look for a standardized freeze dried or liquid extract, or it can be taken as a tea. 

Holy basil works well by itself, but I like it as part of a combination supplement that includes other herbal adaptogens, as they often work better together. 


Holy Basil Side Effects

Like other tonic herbs, holy basil is considered safe, even for long-term use. It is not known to interact with other medications. I have not seen any side effects from holy basil, and there have been no problems reported from human trials. It is not recommended during pregnancy or for infants or very young children. 


Holy Basil Supplements at Fullscript, our partner store

 Please note: The product links in this blog go to our partner store, Fullscript (with an ongoing 10% discount for you + free shipping on orders over $50). You must have an account to view products and shop. Create your free account at: https://us.fullscript.com/welcome/nmh/signup. Learn more about Fullscript here.




TruAdapt provides a unique blend of “stress-adapting botanicals” which help increase the body’s resistance to fatigue, improve attention and immune function and maintain balanced cortisol and DHEA levels.* 



*Note: Some of the supplements discussed in this article can cause side effects, but many people tolerate them much better than prescription medications. They are generally considered safe, however, they should not be started without your doctor’s knowledge and supervision. If you are taking medication already, be sure to talk with your doctor before adding any of these items. If you are considering going off medication, remember never to stop your medication suddenly—always consult with your doctor about how to safely taper off any psychiatric medication. See termsAdditionally, these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.





Rhodiola for Joy and Calm

Rhodiola is an adaptogen that not only helps down-regulate the stress hormones, but it also gives a gentle boost to energy without being overstimulating. Traditionally, rhodiola has been used for energy and mental focus, but more recently it has been studied for its benefits with anxiety and depression. Read more.



  1. Negar Jamshidi, Marc M. Cohen, "The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature", Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2017, Article ID 9217567, 13 pages, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/9217567
  2. Cohen M. M. (2014). Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine5(4), 251–259. https://doi.org/10.4103/0975-9476.146554
  3. Jothie Richard, R. Illuri, B. Bethapudi et al., “Anti-stress activity of Ocimum sanctum: possible effects on hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis,” Phytotherapy Research, vol. 30, no. 5, pp. 805–814, 2016.

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice and is not a replacement for advice and treatment from a medical professional. Consult your doctor or other qualified health professional before beginning any diet change, supplement, or lifestyle program. See our terms for more information.

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