Holy Basil for Anxiety

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Lindsay Delk, RDN

The use of holy basil for anxiety has been gaining popularity in recent years. This potent herb has a long history of being used for relaxation and stress relief in traditional Indian medicine. Let’s explore how it can be incorporated into your daily routine to help you stay calm and relaxed.

This post was written by Lindsay Delk, RDN. It is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice or instructions given by your healthcare provider. 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Holy basil for anxiety in a mortar and pestle with a jar of supplements

What Is Holy Basil?

Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum) is an herb native to India that has been used for thousands of years in traditional Indian medicine. It is sometimes called tulsi in Ayurvedic medicine.

The phytochemicals in holy basil are believed to have many medicinal properties, such as antioxidant, antidiabetic, antiulcer, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. But there needs to be more research in these areas.

You can find holy basil as dried leaves, teas, capsules, oils, tinctures, and even fresh leaves at some health stores.

Holy Basil Vs. Thai Basil Vs. Italian Sweet Basil

Holy basil, Thai basil, and Italian sweet basil are three distinct varieties of basil. Each has its own unique flavor profile and uses. Although they are related botanically, their flavors and aromas are quite different from one another.

To make things more confusing, holy basil is sometimes referred to as Thai holy basil. But holy basil and Thai basil belong to two different species. Holy basil belongs to the Ocimum tenuiflorum species, while Thai basil belongs to the Ocimum basilicum species.

> Holy basil

Holy basil is native to India and Southeast Asia. It is a fragrant herb that has a strong earthy, peppery, clove-like taste. Holy basil is often used fresh in Thai and Indian cuisine for curries, soups, and sauces. It can also be dried or made into a tea for medicinal purposes.

Up close of holy basil leaves

> Thai basil

Thai basil has a sweet and spicy licorice-like flavor. It is commonly used in Thai dishes, such as pad thai, stir fries, and fried rice.

Up close of Thai basil leaves

> Italian sweet basil

Italian sweet basil is what most Americans just call basil in cooking. It is the variety most often used in Italian cuisine, such as pesto and tomato sauce. It has a milder flavor than the other varieties of basil.

Italian sweet basil leaves on a wooden table

Holy Basil for Anxiety

Holy basil is an adaptogen. An adaptogen is an herb or other natural substance that helps your body cope with stressors and increases resilience. As an adaptogen, holy basil can help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. It may also work as a nootropic to improve memory and cognitive function.

Researchers looked at the findings from 24 human studies. They concluded that holy basil was safe and may help with psychological stress among other benefits.

There are several ways to take holy basil, including as a tincture, powder, tea, or capsule. While you can definitely cook with holy basil, you shouldn’t substitute it for sweet basil in recipes.

If you decide to try it, make sure to buy high-quality preparations from trusted sources. Talk to your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements. And make sure you are using the pillars of a good mental health diet from this blog post.

Holy Basil Tea

Holy basil tea is a refreshing way to enjoy the benefits of holy basil. Steep fresh or dried holy basil leaves in hot water for several minutes.

The resulting tea has a light, herbal flavor with hints of clove. You can sweeten the tea with honey or stevia, if desired. Because it is caffeine free, you can enjoy your holy basil tea as a hot or cold beverage any time of the day.

The act of sipping on tea can be a very calming and relaxing activity. If you suffer from stress or anxiety, drinking holy basil tea in the evening can be a great way to wind down before bedtime.

Check out my blog post about other Tea for Anxiety.

Holy basil tea in a glass cup and saucer with holy basil leaves on the side

Holy Basil Tincture

A holy basil tincture is an extract made by soaking holy basil in alcohol, glycerin, or vinegar for 6 to 8 weeks and then straining it. The resulting tincture is a concentrated form of the constituents of holy basil.

You can take the tincture orally by placing a few drops of the liquid under your tongue. A holy basil tincture is a great way to get the benefits of holy basil without having to consume it in large quantities through teas and capsules.

A bottle of holy basil tincture on a woven mat

Where to Buy Holy Basil

You can buy holy basil in various forms, including fresh leaves, dry leaves, and supplements. It is usually available at Asian supermarkets, health food stores, and online retailers. I found several holy basil supplements in the large-chain grocery stores near me.

When purchasing holy basil supplements, look for ones that are verified by third-party testing for safety and potency.

Bottom Line

Research suggests that holy basil may be effective in reducing anxiety and stress levels due to its adaptogenic properties. You can buy holy basil in various forms, but talk to your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements. Have you had success with holy basil for anxiety and stress?

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2 thoughts on “Holy Basil for Anxiety”

  1. I found relief from ANXIETY by drinking Kefir daily.
    Have suggested Kefir for my MIL, which she has tried but still suffers from broken sleep and anxiety.
    We are going to try Passionflower Tea to help with sleep.
    I’m hoping Holy Basil Tea will help her during daytime.

    1. Hi Lou! Kefir is full of probiotics, so it can definitely help with anxiety by improving your gut health. Because it’s caffeine-free, holy basil tea might be able to help your mother-in-law in the day and at night. Let me know how it goes with the holy basil tea and the passionflower tea. I hope it helps her.

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