Wellness Encyclopedia: Holy Basil

It’s safe to say we all have the desire to feel more alive. Awake. Alert. (Enthusiastic?) Right?

No one’s out there thinking “man, I wish I felt more exhausted today,” or “screw happiness, I could go for a little more stress. Bring it on, no problem.” Nope, I don’t care how good you are at hustling, that’s just not a thing. Despite the fact that we’re certainly not out there turning over every rock and looking behind every tree searching for more ways to run ourselves ragged, humans in general are pretty talented at finding ways to stress ourselves out. Ways to take on too much. Interrupted sleep, poor eating habits, lack of motivation, chronic inflammation and illnesses mild and serious… these are all common symptoms of stress and exhaustion that we live with every day… that’s no way to live, right?


If my past few posts haven’t tipped you off already, reducing stress is a major theme for me this year, and it’s a theme I’d encourage just about everyone to adopt. For too long I accepted stress and exhaustion into my life as givens, but to this I say “no more”. This year I’ve been exploring ways to help my body relax from years of chronic stress, and making the time for the habits and rituals that make me feel my best and help lessen the effect of everyday, common stress. From a morning walk to aiding my system with adaptogens like holy basil, which just happens to be today’s topic. While we may not be able to control the things life throws at us, we can control the way we react through mindfulness, diet and exercise. Read on to learn about holy basil and how this simple ingredient can reduce stress and anxiety.

What is holy basil? Also known as tulsi, holy basil is a small shrubby bush from the mint family native to India and Southeast Asia. Boasting deep purple and green leaves, this fragrant plant has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and is considered sacred in Hinduism, used primarily in the worship of Vishnu and other male deities, where it is also known as an elixir of life. This pretty, versatile plant can be used raw or made into decoctions and tinctures to treat a host of ailments, from fever and flu to anxiety and stress, and is an adaptogen — just like ashwagandha! — which means holy basil can assist your body in healing itself (this is where the whole “elixir of life” thing comes in). It’s a diverse and highly versatile plant, and lends itself well to a variety of culinary recipes when it isn’t being used for its medicinal magic.

What are the benefits of holy basil? A better question: What aren’t the benefits? Poor grammar aside, holy basil is a sort of do-all, be-all, a restorative ingredient that deserves a place in any wellness practitioner’s arsenal. Holy basil is most commonly used to reduce anxiety and stress, it’s unique in that it can calm and relax while simultaneously energizing, perfect for those days when you just can’t seem to rally or when you’re feeling sluggish. The antioxidants present in holy basil, including vitamin C, help to combat free radicals, reducing inflammation, calming nerves and lowering blood pressure, in turn reducing anxiety and stress levels. Holy basil can also lower cortisol levels, the hormone released during stressful events. Those suffering from chronic stress experience heightened levels of cortisol at all times, which puts sufferers at risk of developing diabetes, weight gain, memory loss and exhaustion. Holy basil has also been found to be effective in killing germs both in and out of the body. Chewing on holy basil leaves not only freshens breath but kills germs inside the mouth, which can reduce the risk of disease and sickness since most illnesses begin with the mouth. Drinking holy basil extract diluted in water has been shown to ease stomach issues and increase immunity. The leaves have also been found to be effective in treating skin issues, such as acne and dermatitis, and can even repel insects.

How to use holy basil: Fresh holy basil can be grown in most gardens, and can be used fresh in culinary recipes or for its medicinal uses, such as chewing the leaves or as a compress to treat dermatitis. Fresh holy basil can also be dried and made into a tea or mixed with other herbal tea blends. The easiest way to reap the benefits of holy basil? Diluting several drops of the extract in water! Super simple and effective in lowering stress and anxiety… it’s as easy as your morning lemon water, and super calming.

Holy Basil in Water

Simple & effective

30 – 40 drops holy basil extract

4 oz water

Dilute holy basil drops in 4 oz. of water. Drink and feel calm.

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This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. 
Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.

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The holy basil extract with water sounds like a great alternative to lemon water!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

Diana Free

I wasn’t aware of holy basil. It sounds very beneficial!


I take a Tulsi tincture before I meditate, practice yoga, or attend Friends Meeting and it really has opened me up to incredible experiences.


Thanks for this! I am definitely going to try