All hail holy basil! This potent herb has many health benefits, some of them being reduced feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. It has a long history of use around the globe for not only being physically, but mentally healthy, as well, and could be very beneficial for stress management.
Holy basil is closely related to the more familiar sweet basil used in many dishes, especially in Italian cooking; and is from the mint family. It is a shrub with fuzzy stems and leaves and native to Eastern tropical parts of the world. In India and Hindu countries, it is considered a sacred plant, thus the name holy basil. It’s been grown and cultivated in India for the past 3,000 years and is revered for being a plant that can heal the body, mind and spirit.
Ayurvedic medicine has included the use of holy basil (aka tulsi) because of its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, among others. It is used to treat physical ailments like headaches, upset stomach, insect bites, skin rashes, and to calm nerves and help one sleep better.
Holy Health Benefits
Western medicine has begun to offer evidence that holy basil extract can dramatically reduce symptoms of general stress like:
- Sexual/libido issues
The benefits of the herb administered in an extract proved to be effective after only six weeks of use in one study.
Another study in 2008 used holy basil to evaluate its effectiveness in treating the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorders. Test participants took 500 mg of the herb in supplement form twice a day for 60 days. Test administers published results saying those who took the herb supplement reported significantly reduced feelings of anxiety, stress and depression, in contrast to those who received a placebo.
Related: Three Herbs for Stress Reduction
Other health benefits attributed to holy basil are due to its anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve:
- Sore throat
- Bites, cuts or stings
As a powerful antioxidant, holy basil is also showing to be a healthy supplement to boost cognitive function, strengthen the immune system, help kidneys function better, and stabilize blood glucose levels.
Holy Basil At Home
It’s simple to cultivate your own unlimited supply of holy basil at home. You can plant it in in a garden pot inside to get it going when it’s cold outside and transplant it to warm soil (where it grows best) in the summer (at least 65-70 degrees F). Put it somewhere that will allow for full sun and be sure to water it regularly. To encourage a larger, bushier plant cut off the flowering blossoms, though letting them grown into flowers does not affect the health benefits of the plant. Make sure your plant is well established and growing strong before you harvest the first leaves.
Holy Tea for Two
The best way to get maximum health benefits from holy basil is to use the leaves to make tea. Pour eight ounces of boiling water over two teaspoons of fresh leaves, cover and steep for five minutes, then enjoy!
If you are not too keen on growing your own you can find the herb in supplement form.
If you are looking for some easy stress management techniques, sipping some holy basil tea could be for you.