Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is an Indian herb that belongs to the mint family. Other name for holy basil is tulsi, sacred basil, The Incomparable One, and Elixir of Life. Holy basil or tulsi has therapeutical properties for digestive issues, depression, stress, anxiety, and arthritis. As supplement holy basil comes in as dried leaf in powdered form and it’s recommended to be taken once or few times a day, depending on person’s individual needs. Holy basil and sweet basil are two very different herbs. Before using holy basil for medicinal purposes, it is recommended to consult with your doctor or medical provider.
Holy basil is believed to aid in treating mild depression, anxiety, bulimia nervosa and insomnia. It can also influence how our body responds to stressors, whether they are internal or external. Dosage of holy basil depends on person’s age, health, and weight. Standard dosage for adults includes $1000 to 2500 mg of powdered and dried holy basil per day. You can take full dose at once or take it in smaller increments throughout the day.
There are no known drug interactions when it comes to taking holy basil, however, the verdict is still out on fertility issues that are being reported according to the University of Michigan Health System. Not enough studies were conducted with regards to the effectiveness of holy basil as a depression treatment. More research is needed when it comes to treating severe depression or any other mental disorder.
If you decide to purchase holy basil in a supplement form, look that it is standardized for eugenol, oleanolic and ursolic acid (that are parts of caryphyllene and triterpenoic acids). Holy basil as a supplement should contain multiple extracts of holy basil, such as alcohol, distillation and supercritical (CO2) extracts for maximum benefit. It is important to check for extraction method as we want to make sure that holy basil was preserved well with active components that are found naturally in the herb, same way when we are buying olive oil, we look for first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. Holy basil requires lipophilic and hydrophilic ingredients for support.
Holy basil has high nutritional value as it contains chlorophyll, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin A and C. Holy basil is considered an adaptogen herb which means that it contains natural substances that can help our body to adapt to stress and provide mental balance. As per Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, holy basil is comparable to diazepam and other antidepressant drugs. As per one study, people that took 500 mg of holy basil extract daily saw reduction in stress, anxiety and depression. In turn, with anxiety reduction, people saw increased social interaction.
Ayurvedic practitioners suggest that holy basil is best when taken as a tea. Tea should be made from dried powdered leaves or fresh leaves. Holy basil tea is naturally caffeine free. Holy basil has high antioxidant properties and it can be used as a natural body detox. As any natural antioxidant it slows down growth of cancer. Holy basil also has antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, analgesic (painkilling) and anti-inflammatory properties. It lowers blood sugar, reduces high cholesterol, and helps with hypertension and weight gain. Holy basil protects stomach lining by decreasing stomach acid and helps with mucus secretion, and it offers relief from stomach ulcers caused by stress.
Whole part of the plant can be used in cooking. Some people have holy basil raw, even though it tastes bitter and spicy.
As with any other supplement, talk to your doctor or medical provider before taking holy basil in a supplement form. There is not enough research conducted to approve safe use of holy basil for pregnant women, babies and children. If you decide to buy holy basil, buy the one that has been grown organically in unpolluted environment.