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Holy Basil: The 'Sacred Herb' Used for Centuries To Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Updated: Feb 5, 2020

holy basil benefits

Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, originates in India and is often regarded as the ‘Queen

of Herbs’. This sacred plant has been used for centuries in the practice of Ayurveda due to its restorative and calming properties. It is also used to help induce a state of relaxation before spiritual practices, such as meditation, and plays a central role in various ceremonies and rituals. Although it has been used for over 5,000 years, you can still find this magical plant being grown in most backyards and as a potted plant in India today!

Fortunately, tulsi is gaining worldwide popularity due to its adaptogenic properties and is now available to all of us who need support coping with stress and anxiety. Adaptogenic herbs are at the core of the Ayurvedic practice and have been used for centuries to promote wellness, help manage emotional and physical stress, as well as lifestyle related disease.

Holy Basil Benefits

Psychological Stress

Physiological stress can be defined as the emotional and physiological reactions to a situation. Everyone experiences stress, however, not everyone has the required coping resources essential for stress management.

What’s more, the nervous system does not differentiate between perceived stress or actual danger. The mere perception of danger can set in motion the ‘flight of fight’ response, where chemical signalling involving hormones dictate our mood, thoughts, emotions, and control our automatic responses such as the heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion.

Holy Basil is considered an adaptogenic herb; it helps the body adapt to stress, whether perceived or actual danger and enables coping mechanisms, thereby decreasing physiological symptoms. (1) In a systematic review, the ingestion of tulsi supported traditional uses of this herb and has proven effective in the treatment of psychological stress.


Tulsi is considered to have anti-anxiety effects and may help balance hormone levels. Our ability to manage emotions, thoughts, and behaviours are affected by our delicate hormone levels. In one study, 35 people were given tulsi extract, 500 mg capsule twice daily for 2 months. The results had proven to greatly reduce generalized anxiety disorder, stress, and depression symptoms. (2)

Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol but in particular corticosterone are high during an anxiety attack or a stressful situation. High levels of corticosterone are linked to mental fog, decreased memory function, and if experienced long term, may increase the risk of age related mental imbalances. (3) As mentioned earlier, tulsi supports body function optimally during stress and therefore enhances the body’s ability to manage anxiety more efficiently as well.


According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is very common and it is associated with feelings of sadness, loss of interest or motivation, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating and so many more. Due to Tulsi’s ability to calm the nervous system it may help with symptoms associated with depression, depressive moods, or insomnia. (4)

How To Use Holy Basil

Holy Basil is available in many forms including essential oil, capsules, extracts or tinctures, and tea. Tea is a great way to introduce the ‘Queen of Herbs’ into your daily regimen, however if you’re facing chronic stress and require something more potent, capsule supplements are recommended for therapeutic purposes.

You can find 200mg of holy basil in one serving of Veeva’s Anxiety formula, along with other adaptogen herbs such as ginseng and ashwagandha for an all-round formula.

Holy Basil Side Effects

Studies show that Holy Basil is generally safe for daily consumption. This plant has

been used for centuries for its therapeutic properties, therefore, side effects are unlikely in the recommended doses. (5)

Holy Basil Dosage

If being used on its own, the recommended dose is 300 mg- 2g of tulsi daily for general preventative use. However if you’re using it in conjunction with other adaptogens in a supplement blend, lower dosages such as 100-200 mg are appropriate.

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Holy Basil Benefits

Disclaimer: If you are currently taking medication, please exercise caution before taking natural supplements and make sure to consult with a health care practitioner.

This article was written by Tatiana Vicol, a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and the founder of The Corporate Nutritionist. A nutrition expert with a burning passion to help people reach their best life possible, Tatiana has been featured in numerous publications both online and print. You can also connect with her on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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