Holy Basil for Joy and Calm | Anxiety and DepressionMar 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 Benefits
“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. A systematic review of holy basil found benefits that fall into three main areas:
- Reducing inflammation and strengthening the immune system.
- Improving lipid metabolism, stabilizing blood sugar, and reducing insulin sensitivity (i.e. prediabetes).
- 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 and Anxiety / 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 Natural Mental Health
Stress Support is a blend of several herbal adaptogens with the calming amino acids L-theanine and phosphatidylserine. It contains 300 mg of holy basil in each capsule. Stress support is usually taken twice daily, so the total daily dose is 600 mg of holy basil.
*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 terms.
Additionally, 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.
- 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
- Cohen M. M. (2014). Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 5(4), 251–259. https://doi.org/10.4103/0975-9476.146554
- 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.