Holy Basil For Stress And Anxiety

Dr. Morgan Camp M.D.

IN BRIEF

If you have trouble sleeping at night, it may be stress and anxiety that's causing it. Holy basil, also known as tulsi, is a fantastic herb for cutting through the stress and anxiety of everyday life. Add a cup of holy basil tea to your afternoon routine, and see if it helps you relax into a more restful sleep come bedtime.

Holy Basil is an aromatic plant from the basil family Lamiaceae (tribe ocimeae). It produces a leafy, perennial herb that is native to the tropical zones of India and Asia. (3)

It is used throughout India, where it is believed to have originated, and can sometimes be enjoyed as a tea. Holy basil is used for medicinal and spiritual purposes and even worshipped within daily life, hence the name “Holy”. (3,4)

In Hinduism and Ayurveda, it’s known as The Incomparable One, The Mother Medicine of Nature, or The Queen of Herbs, and its pungent allure stretches far beyond being a comforting staple. (3)

It’s regularly called “Hot Basil,” for its peppery taste, or sometimes Tulsi, especially when sipped in a tea. (3,6)

How To Enjoy Holy Basil 

Regular consumption of Holy Basil is believed to nurture the body, mind, and spirit, as it fosters a sense of relaxation and wellbeing when ingested. (3)

Adaptogens are herbal medicine ingredients that are said to improve the body’s resistance to physical and emotional stress. Holy Basil is valued as one such adaptogen and is used widely to combat the negative effects of stress, maintain stable blood sugar levels, and promote longevity. (5,6)

Since some adaptogenic herbs are too bitter to eat, some are consumed in capsule-form, in smoothies, teas, herbal beverages, or on tinctures. (5)  Holy Basil is often combined with additional herbs that provide a synergistic balance, such as those in Be Serene.

Be-Serene capsules contain a potent formula, made with adaptogens that works with your body and brain to restore a natural state of calm. Holy Basil is one of the five potent, healthy ingredients found within the formula, making it easy to get a daily dose of tranquility.

Holy Basil For Stress and Anxiety 

Holy basil has a soothing effect that promotes clarity of thinking, as well as a more peaceful demeanor. Its cognitive and memory-enhancing properties differ from caffeine-containing drinks such as coffee, which can cause arousal… physical and mental agitation. (3)

Furthermore, Holy Basil does not produce the same physical dependence as caffeine, and it has no withdrawal symptoms. (3)

Within Ayurveda, Holy Basil is commonly recommended as a preventive measure to enhance the ability to adapt to both psychological and physical stress. In this way holy basil can help with preventing the development of stress-related diseases. (3)

A 2017 study found that Holy Basil may be an effective adaptogen, helping to “address the psychological, physiological, immunological, and metabolic stresses of modern living.” (7)

Four Other Benefits Of Holy Basil 

#1 Inhibits Inflammation 

It is well known that inflammation is the immune system’s natural response to injury and illness. Research has shown that chronic inflammation plays a role in several health conditions, including arthritis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. (6)

One independent review of studies concluded that Holy Basil may have many substances that act alone or synergistically (with other chemicals) to inhibit inflammation. (6)

The authors concluded, “The clinical effects demonstrated in the reviewed studies suggest the Ayurvedic tradition of consuming HolyBasil on a daily basis may be an effective lifestyle measure to address many modern chronic diseases.” (6)

#2 Reduction Of Respiratory Issues 

Bioactive compounds found in Holy Basil, such as camphene, eugenol, and cineole, can help to expand airways, improving breathing. Antimicrobial and antiviral properties of these compounds can help shorten the duration of the common cold and flu symptoms, and Holy Basil is recommended as a treatment for coughs and asthma. (3,9)

Holy Basil’s clove-like aroma arising from its high eugenol content, regularly serves to link families at home to the divine, both in religious ceremonies and purification practices. (3)

Thousands of tulsi plants have even been planted around the Taj Mahal in Agra, to help protect the iconic marble building and those who visit, from environmental and pollution damage. (3)

#3 May Defend Against High Blood Sugar Which Causes Diabetes

Several test-tube, animal, and human studies have shown that Holy Basil has the ability to regulate blood glucose levels. (8)

Holy basil leaves were shown to have anti-diabetic activity in a randomized placebo-controlled, single-blind study. During the holy basil treatment time, patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes had lower fasting blood sugar levels, postprandial (after a meal) blood sugar levels, urinary blood sugar levels, and total cholesterol levels. (8)

The study found that holy basil may be useful as an aid to other drugs or nutritional interventions for the treatment of metabolic disorders such as diabetes. (8)

# 4 Protects The Stomach 

Peptic ulcers are sores that can develop on the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine. Many peptic ulcer medications have negative side effects that can cause pain for countless people. In one animal study, 200 mg of Holy Basil extract significantly decreased the amount and index of ulcers in two-thirds of the animals. (1)

Stress-induced ulcers can be prevented by using holy basil as it boosts the stomach’s natural defenses by:

  • Reducing stomach acid (1)
  • Boosting mucus secretion (1)
  • Increasing mucus cells (1)
  • Extending the life of mucus cells (1)

We don’t have to suffer from peptic ulcers to gain the tummy-comforting benefits. When consumed regularly, Holy Basil can improve bowel movements, facilitating digestion for everyone. It can balance acid reflux and maintain stomach pH levels, to ensure healthy digestion. (1,2)

Holy Basil is recommended as a treatment for a range of stomach conditions including diarrhea, dysentery, indigestion, hiccups, vomiting, and gastric disorders. (3)

Metabolic stress due to poor diet, low physical activity, and psychological stress is a byproduct of modern lifestyles, and “metabolic syndrome” is estimated to affect as much as one-third of today’s population. (1,3)

There is evidence to suggest that Holy Basil can assist in dealing with many health consequences of metabolic syndrome, suggesting it could be a great non-toxic alternative to pharmaceutical drugs. (1,3)

Balance In Our Lives 

Nurturing our body, renewing our mind, and soothing our soul are all ways we can refresh ourselves. By enjoying high-quality herbs, plant foods, or tinctures and teas, we can appreciate more balance and health – and sometimes experiences that can be (pungently) tasty. 

The act of drinking tea can be ritualistic and help us foster clearer thoughts. The things that bring us comfort and joy are the ones we should indulge in. We’ve all had those moments where we’re too cozy to leave the couch to do anything – and it’s the best feeling in the universe. 

Perhaps we should cuddle up and relate to some Holy Basil in a cup, or even take a supplement that compliments our busy lives today.

  1. http://ispub.com/IJGE/11/1/14310 
  2. https://www.sehat.com/benefits-of-eating-tulsi-leaves-in-empty-stomach 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296439/ 
  4. https://www.britannica.com/plant/holy-basil 
  5. https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-are-adaptogens-4685073
  6. https://www.verywellhealth.com/holy-basil-4766587
  7. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2017/9217567/ 
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8880292/ 
  9. https://www.webmd.com/diet/holy-basil-tea-health-benefits#1 

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About Dr. Morgan Camp M.D.

Dr. Morgan is an expert in Functional and Integrative Medicine with a Strong Emphasis in stress related illnesses like anxiety and insomnia. In addition to his 20 years of work in Functional Medicine, he has expanded his practice to include work on the deeper aspects of our being that point to the root cause of our illnesses working with Mind Body Wellness, Energy Medicine, and Healing with Consciousness.
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