Holy basil: a key herb for stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue

Holy basil: a key herb for stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue

2018-08-30T22:20:13+00:00

Ever since I’ve been helping clients to recover from adrenal fatigue (or adrenal burnout), I keep researching many natural medicines such as herbs, nutritional supplements and nutrition-dense foods to gauge which ones work best for them.

As a herbalist trained in a western tradition, I mostly prescribe herbs used in the European/ North American natural medicine; however, I’ve also been investigating other healing systems such as Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine for their herbal medicine solutions for stress, fatigue and anxiety.

Subsequently, I came across a very interesting herb called holy basil that have been used successfully for thousands of years in the Orient. Then I started to include it in the adrenal and sleep herbal mixes with impressive clinical results. These days I use holy basil for a number of conditions I discuss in this blog.

Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) has been used medicinally in India for over 3,000 years and it’s known there as the “Queen of Herbs”. It has been one of India’s most important healing plants throughout history. Its other name is “Tulsi” which means “incomparable one” as, according to Ayurveda, the herb also has effect on the spiritual aspects facilitating expanded states of awareness.

Others call it an “elixir of life” as it promotes longevity and relaxation or a “rasayana”- a herb that nourishes a person’s growth to perfect health, both physical and spiritual.

With such a rich history of traditional use and therapeutic actions I investigated it more to see how well it works for my clients as well as for myself. My clinical focus has been mainly on holy basil’s anti-stress and anti-fatigue applications but of course it has many flow-on effects on other body systems as they are connected and influence each other all the time.

Holy basil has a broad range of applications and indications, its main effects and benefits include:

  • Endocrine system – stress modulation/ reduction*, fatigue* reduction, promoting longevity*, lowering of blood sugar levels in diabetes (type 1 and 2)*, metabolic syndrome
  • Nervous system – memory and cognition improvements*, alleviates anxiety and depression, insomnia, migraine headaches, headaches, Alzheimer’s disease
  • Immunity – systemic anti-inflammatory, infections and problems of the respiratory tract including asthma; microbial and viral infections – colds, flu, coughs; cancer prevention; lessens the side-effects of radiotherapy treatments in cancer; anti-fungal (e.g. in candida infections)
  • Cardiovascular system – heart disease*- known to be “good for the heart”*, high cholesterol*, atherosclerosis*
  • Digestion – ulcers (peptic, gastric and duodenal ulcers)*, diarrhoea, flatulence, leaky gut, liver disease (e.g. drug/ alcohol induced liver injury)
  • Skin – wound healing, skin infections

*Uses verified by current research

Holy basil for stress reduction and calming the nervous system

Holy basil is a relatively well-studied herb, with research that has demonstrated that it can improve anxiety and depression, and reduce stress – both physical and emotional. The exact mechanism of action is yet to be determined although research has shown that holy basil decreases the amount of cortisol released during stress without the adverse side-effects of prescription medications.

In addition, holy basil has the capacity to increase physical and emotional endurance thus increasing the resilience to all stressors. As already mentioned, it lowers blood sugar levels which in turn reduces cravings and stabilises moods, and thus facilitates weight loss. Blood sugar imbalances are common in adrenal fatigue because cortisol is involved in blood sugar management in the body.

Holy basil has been traditionally used to support people through times of stress, working as adaptogen (i.e. substance that balances and protects the body by improving resistance to any type of physiological or mental stress) and anxiolytic (decreasing anxiety).

One of the most strongly supported actions of this herb is that of an adaptogen, with current research supporting its traditional use in managing acute and chronic stress and fatigue.

Chronic stress has been shown to increase the levels of oxidative stress and free radicals. Holy basil enhances the levels and activities of endogenous antioxidants and antioxidant enzymes including glutathione and superoxide dismutase.

In a recent randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial researchers evaluated the efficacy of an extract of holy basil in the symptomatic control of general stress (1). They concluded that the effect of holy basil supplementation over placebo on comparison was considerable for all stress parameters measured. The treatment showed 39% improvement in general stress symptoms over and above the placebo.

The significant finding in this study was the reduced intensity of forgetfulness, reduced symptom scores of sexual problems (stress related), and the effective relief from frequent feelings of fatigue and sleep problems.

Holy basil has also demonstrated ability to improve exercise endurance. The 2012 animal study demonstrated that after 2 weeks of supplementation (at a dose around 300mg/kg/day), the herb has protected muscles from exercise-induced injury, reduced levels of lactic acid, and extended exercise time before exhaustion (2).

The herb has been clinically trialed in treating generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) in a small, controlled 60-day clinical trial (3). The results indicated that taking the herb significantly improved anxiety, stress, depression and attention span in subjects suffering from GAD, with the greatest improvements occurring at the completion of 60 days of treatment.

Other research has indicated that holy basil has a strong antioxidant action in the brain resulting in improved memory and slower cognition decline. Free radicals have been associated with ischaemic brain lesions, development and progression of degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, and general decline in memory and cognition due to chronic stress.

Safety

Holy basil has been found to be very safe in clinical trials for short- and long-term use. However, it’s not recommended for pregnancy and lactation, and it may act as a male contraceptive agent when taking in large doses – see the study summary here. 

In vivo studies have investigated acute single doses of 2,000 mg/kg and long-term doses of 5, 50, and 300 mg/kg/day for 28 days with no morbidity and mortality or pathological changes observed (1).

It may also act as a male contraceptive agent in large  doses (animal study).

Potential drug interactions

According to the Natural Medicines Database (2016), the following are the known potential drug interactions for holy basil:

  • Anticoagulant/ Antiplatelet drugs

Theoretically, holy basil seed oil might increase the risk of bleeding when combined with anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs. In an animal model, holy basil seed oil prolongs bleeding time, possibly due to inhibition of platelet aggregation.  Anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs that might interact with holy basil seed oil include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

  • Pentobarbital (Nembutal) – it’s a group of drugs called barbiturates. The drug slows the activity of the brain and nervous system. Pentobarbital is used short-term to treat insomnia. It is also used as an emergency treatment for seizures (source: Drugs.com)

Theoretically, combining holy basil seed oil and pentobarbital might increase the sedative effects of pentobarbital. In an animal model, holy basil seed oil increases pentobarbitone-induced sleeping time. It is not known if this occurs in humans or if this applies to other barbiturates or sedatives.

  • Caution should be used when combining treatment with other medications that are metabolised via cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver as holy basil has been shown to modulate this system in vitro (animal studies).

Holy basil dose guidelines

For general preventive therapy, the dosage range recommended in review literature is 300 mg – 2,000 mg of holy basil extract for a single dose on a daily basis. For curative therapy, 600 – 1,800 mg daily in divided doses have been used.

For diabetes, 2,500 mg dried leaf powder ingested daily, or one teaspoon of the dried herb brewed daily in 1 cup of water have been used (source: Gaia Herbs).

Sleep and adrenal fatigue

Sleeping better is one of the most underrated as well as the easiest and most simple things you CAN do to improve your health fast – starting today. There is no way to get around sleep to be and stay healthy, and there is no substitute for it.

Holy basil helps with sleep disorders as well, it reduces high cortisol which is known to cause insomnia and/ or frequent awakenings during night due to the drop in blood sugar which triggers adrenaline release from the adrenal glands. The herb also helps to decrease anxiety about not being able to fall asleep and/ or sleep throughout the night.

Having seen many fantastic outcomes of improving sleep in my practice, I was compelled to write this short guide to give you the most important, simplest and common sense steps you can do right now to get sounder and more restful sleep tonight. 

Free guide: Get a Good Night’s Sleep Tonight! 
What you CAN do today to fall asleep easier, sleep longer and wake up rested and refreshed, a step-by-step guide

What will you gain from this guide?

sleep free guideIf you’re currently suffering from insomnia and/ or sleep difficulties, especially if they are related to adrenal fatigue, this guide will provide you with what you need to do to sleep better.

The benefits include:

  • Sounder and uninterrupted sleep and rest
  • More energy and vitality, feeling refreshed and relaxed
  • Clearer thinking, feeling calmer and less stressed

Download the Get a Good Night’s Sleep Tonight! Free Guide here and start sleeping better tonight!

Summary

Holy basil proved to be a great addition to my herb dispensary and I’ve been successfully using it in herbal mixes for my adrenal fatigue/ exhaustion and anxious clients.  They also get additional benefits the herb offers such increased capacity for physical and emotional endurance, lowering blood sugar levels reducing sugar cravings and promoting safe weight loss, among others.

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact me to discuss how to start recovering from adrenal fatigue/burnout utilising powerful adaptogenic herbs such as holy basil, rhodiola, Siberian ginseng, licorice and others. Plus tailored supplements, personalised nutrition and lifestyle changes.

To book a consultation, either in person or via phone/ Skype click the button below. I also offer a free 15-minute initial discussion to briefly talk about your circumstances and how I can help.

Book free call now

Please note that at present I’m able to consult with Australia-based clients only.

The above material is meant as information only. Always consult a qualified herbalist before using herbs in any form.

Good health and blessings

Joanna Sochan
Adrenal Fatigue, Sleep and Digestive Health Expert
Naturopath || Herbalist || Nutritionist || Reiki Practitioner

 

 

References

1) Efficacy of an Extract of Ocimum tenuiflorum (OciBest) in the Management of General Stress: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study; Ram Chandra Saxena,1 Rakesh Singh,2 Parveen Kumar,3 Mahendra P. Singh Negi,4 Vinod S. Saxena,5 Periasamy Geetharani,6 Joseph Joshua Allan,6 and Kudiganti Venkateshwarlu6; Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 894509, 7 pages
http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/894509/
2) Antifatigue Activity of Ethanolic Extract of Ocimum sanctum in Rats; MP Venu Prasad, Farhath Khanum; Research Journal of Medicinal Plant, Year: 2012 | Volume: 6 | Issue: 1 | Page No.: 37-46
http://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=rjmp.2012.37.46
3) Controlled programmed trial of Ocimum sanctum leaf on generalized anxiety disorders. Bhattacharyya D1, Sur TK, Jana U, Debnath PK.; Nepal Med Coll J. 2008 Sep;10(3):176-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19253862
4) www.optimalrx.com

Check out other relevant posts here:

 

Joanna Sochan is a Natural Medicine Practitioner and founder of Naturimedica Holistic Health & Wellness. She has a passion for helping her clients transform their lives by becoming healthy and well naturally. Joanna is an adrenal fatigue, sleep and gut health expert helping tired, stressed or unwell individuals to regain their energy, sleep better and be happier, more relaxed and calm. Joanna practices in Sydney, Australia and also conducts Skype / phone consultations for clients Australia-wide. View full bio.

 

77 Comments

  1. Alex September 1, 2018 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed reading! Takes me back to my internship in India where I first encountered tulsi. Later on, I found out about its common name in the western world and its amazing health benefits. And now I know even more about it, thanks to this comprehensive article.

    Thanks a lot and keep up the great work, Joanna! 🙂

    • Joanna Sochan September 3, 2018 at 11:32 am - Reply

      Glad you found it useful! Thank you for commenting:)

  2. Xel July 14, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    I always have chronic flu and sneeze every month after ovulation and this always make me to take loratidine tablet or I won’t be able to teach as am a teacher and I think this has affected conception for seven years. Now am thinking of trying holy basil is it safe since am trying to conceive.

    • Joanna Sochan July 16, 2018 at 10:09 am - Reply

      I strongly suggest you consult with a qualified herbalist before taking any herbs if you’re planning to get pregnant. Caution is required especially in the first trimester and as many women don’t know that they are pregnant for weeks or months, it’s not advisable to take any herbs or medications that may have a negative impact on he baby. Safety first!

  3. Pauline Linton April 26, 2018 at 7:10 am - Reply

    I am taking Effexor for depression and Paxil for stress and would like to know if I can take holy basil 500 mg as well for anxiety which I read is suppose to help with. Thank you.

    • Joanna Sochan April 26, 2018 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      I’m not able to answer this question for you as I have no knowledge of your current and past health history and what other drugs, supplements or herbs you may be taking.

      As I mentioned in my post there are a few known drug/ holy basil interactions: with blood thinners and the sedative pentobarbital. The possibility of experiencing interactions increases with the number of drugs taken e.g. two in your case (that you mentioned) as we really don’t know what are the COMBINED effects of the drugs and possibly other supplements/medications.

      There are also other factors to consider when taking holy basil – overall it lowers cortisol so if you have adrenal fatigue and your cortisol is already lower, this may exacerbate your symptoms.

      Therefore I strongly suggest you seek advice from a health practitioner who can assess your current situation and needs.

  4. Flaxx March 14, 2018 at 1:48 am - Reply

    Will do! Thank you so much.

  5. Flaxx March 11, 2018 at 7:02 am - Reply

    Does a dose of holy basil have an immediate effect, i.e., induces calm or sleepiness? Or is it the kind of thing that has to build up in the bloodstream over a few days/weeks before an effect will be noticed? Thanks.

    • Joanna Sochan March 11, 2018 at 7:24 pm - Reply

      From my experience with prescribing holy basil it usually takes at least a week to 3 weeks to experience its effects. However, some people most commonly with advanced adrenal fatigue can react to it (either negative – too stimulating, or positive) faster – over a few days – from starting supplementation. Most studies on holy basil were conducted over 4-8 weeks and the results were measured at the end of the study. Needless to say, the dose will also will impact on the effect/outcome.

  6. Tonya February 22, 2018 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Would you suggest drinking one cup of tea in the am and one in pm for adrenal stress. And also would it apply to do this one month on and one month off? Or is that just for the capsules. Thanks so much this has been very informative.

    • Joanna Sochan February 23, 2018 at 10:55 am - Reply

      One month on/ one month off applies to all forms of this herb including tea.

  7. Tami Defenderfer August 10, 2017 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Joanna,

    Thank you! that helps!

    tami

  8. Tami Defenderfer May 19, 2017 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Hi Joanna,

    Thank you for all the information contained here. it is very helpful.

    I am experimenting with growing and using medicinal herbs. Dosages are given here in mg. How do you determine an equivalent dosage when making tea from fresh leaves? In otherwords, am I getting enough of the herb in tea form?

    thank you , tami

    • Joanna Sochan June 5, 2017 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      Hi Tami, I haven’t used fresh holy basil leaves so I’m not able to comment on this. For the dried herb daily dose would be between 5-10 grams (1-2 teaspoons of the herb steeped in water 2xday).

  9. Elizabeth May 18, 2017 at 6:10 am - Reply

    Hi Joanna!

    Thank you so much for the detailed information on Holy Basil. I own a small skin care spa and I had been feeling very rundown with many adrenal fatigue symptoms. I take probiotics, 5000 iu vitamin D, 200mg magnesium, and have the Skyla IUD. I did some research on adaptogens and decided to try Holy Basil. I started drinking the tea on February 21st with about 2-3 cups daily. I was feeling absolutely lovely within the first couple of weeks which lasted up until a week ago. My head was clear, much less anxiety, dealt with stress easily, and had less headaches.
    Just a few days ago I started feeling aggravated frustrated. I am not due for my period for 2 weeks so I can’t relate my mood to that.
    I was reading that Holy Basil can actually increase testosterone levels. Could this be the cause of my anger? Should I stop use for a month then continue? Thank you so much!

    • Joanna Sochan June 5, 2017 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      Decrease the dose to 1 cup per day for a few weeks and see how you feel. If OK try 2 cups per day which generally is a good dose for adrenal fatigue symptoms.

  10. Mike May 16, 2017 at 3:39 am - Reply

    I’ve read that in order to maintain its effectiveness, we should cycle off holy basil every so often. I can’t find any substantive information on this, but have heard anecdotally “one week on, one week off” and “four weeks on, one week off.”

    Most resources say it’s OK for long-term use, but “long-term” seems to mean 28 days, and “OK” may mean that it’s safe, but do we develop resistance long-term?

    Any advice for a long-term regimen?

    • Joanna Sochan May 16, 2017 at 11:20 am - Reply

      Thank you for this important question. Generally I think it’s important to rotate most herbs and supplements periodically to maintain their desired impact as the body adjusts to a certain dose after a while and modifies its response to them. With holy basil I usually use 1 month on/ 1 month off as I prescribe a bottle of herbs per month for 1-6 months. You’d need to consider each supplement on its own taking into account amount of holy basil in a pill/capsule/liquid extract. It would be best to consult a herbalist close to you.

  11. Tania April 4, 2017 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Is this safe for people with low blood pressure?
    Thabks

    • Joanna Sochan April 9, 2017 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      Yes, holy basil is an adrenal adaptogen that supports blood pressure.

  12. bailey February 20, 2017 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Hi i have read a few articles that say that holy basil can be used to treat acne. Do you know if holy basil is good for acne and in which form is best to take it? (topically?)

    • Joanna Sochan February 23, 2017 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      As I mentioned, holy basil is highly regarded in traditional medicine, particularly in the Ayurvedic system where fresh leaf juice is used in particular for skin diseases and for removing impurities/ toxins in the blood that can manifest as acne. As it’s difficult to get fresh holly basil leaves in the West, you can try topical applications of dried holly basil plus taking it internally as tea or herbal extract which enhance liver detoxification, thus supporting the skin and blood quality indirectly.

  13. Latavia February 4, 2017 at 8:33 am - Reply

    Hi Joanne, I have holy basil capsules. Can I open them and cook with the herb inside of the capsule?

    • Joanna Sochan February 5, 2017 at 3:27 pm - Reply

      I can’t see why not, if they contain pure dried/ powdered holy basil.

  14. Chris January 21, 2017 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    Hi Joanna
    Can you take inositol and Holy Basil together, also I like to have a couple of drinks on Saturday nights but find it increases my anxiety considerably for a day or two. Apart from cutting out the alcohol would there be any interaction with inositol or Holy Basil with aclohol and which would be best to take inositol or Holy Basil if I continue to have a couple of drinks on a Saturday. Thank you.

    • Joanna Sochan January 23, 2017 at 9:03 am - Reply

      I’m not aware of any adverse interactions between holy basil and inositol and they should be fine taken together, if desired. You may want to experiment a bit by taking holy basil first for a few weeks, then adding inositol and see how you feel. There is no official RDA for inositol and it is also difficult to list recommended daily intakes, as it is made in the body and is present in many foods (Whole grains, citrus fruits, seeds, rockmelon, brewers yeast, wheat germ, navy beans and oats. Animal sources include eggs, and organ meats such as liver). As a rough guide however, 1,000 mg for adults is a recommended dose.Higher doses are used for therapeutic purposes.

  15. Chris January 21, 2017 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    Hi Joanna

    Can you take inositol and Holy Basil together, also I like to have a couple of drinks on Saturday nights but find it increases my anxiety considerably for a day or two. Apart from cutting out the alcohol would there be any interaction with inositol or Holy Basil with aclohol and which would be best to take inositol or Holy Basil if I continue to have a couple of drinks on a Saturday. Thank you.

  16. Chris January 18, 2017 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Hi Joanna
    I suffer badly with anxiety Monday to Friday ( work/financial pressures ) generally on the weekends I am fine. I also ruminate a lot and occasionally feel depressed. I was given a benzodiazpine and anti depressant drug which I took for about two months with bad side effects so stopped but had bad withdraw symptoms for about 6 months ( this was about two years ago ) I recently tried a small dose ( half a capsule 250mg ) in the morning and found that by about midday my anxiety had eased considerably and my sore leg muscle feeling had also gone, this lasted until going to bed, however I also felt almost like I had had a drink or taken some form of drug that would make you high ( very talkative and sort of disconnected ) the next day I when for coffee with my wife and she commented that I was acting as if I was a bit drunk. Should I reduce the dose further or take it at night ?
    I have also tried inositol which made me very relaxed and stopped the racing thoughts and rumination but gave me a headace and made me fell quite foggy/depressed in the morning ( this was also a low dose 500mg. What would you recommend I try to continue with inositol or holy basil ? or what else would you suggest, I sem to be very sensitive to any type of meds/herbs since withdrawing from the benzodiazapines. Your comments would be appreciated. The only advice I get from the medical profession is that I need to take an anti depressant and a benzo which I am very reluctant to do.

    • Joanna Sochan January 18, 2017 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      I’m afraid I can’t offer specific advice via the blog. However, I suggest you continues to experiment with the dose of holy basil to see if you can find the right dose for you (if possible) to alleviate symptoms. Overall though I suggest you thoroughly investigate natural medicines options for anxiety before considering going back on drugs. Needless to say, you need to discover what is the cause(s) of your anxiety. Work stress could be just one factor and there may be other causes such as nutritional deficiencies – if they exist and are not corrected it’s unlikely you’ll get better.
      All the best!

  17. Happy January 18, 2017 at 2:34 am - Reply

    Hi Joanna,
    thanks for this website.
    I’m on synthroid (1g) for about 3 years now. i knew i needed to supplement it with some herbal benefits. I’m taking holy basil for about 6 months now and what a difference (taking 2 tablets per day 300mg each; not a very big dose). However, i still notice to get moody and easily stressed and depressed at times. i was reading about ashwaganda and now I’m wondering if i should replace the evening dose of tulsi with one pill of ashwaganda for a better result? how do these three interact together? that’s my biggest question.
    thanks so much for your response.

    • Joanna Sochan January 18, 2017 at 7:08 pm - Reply

      Holy basil and ashwaganda (withania) are both adaptogens, meaning they have the ability to support and rebalance the body from either hypo or hyper states. From my experience withania gently stimulates the thyroid gland by increasing T4 so it can be beneficial for hypothyroid. So if you decide to try withania together with holy basil make sure that you keep an eye on the medication as it may need adjustment after a while.

  18. Sue November 22, 2016 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Hi, is it safe to take holy basil with desfax ? Exhausted, overwhelmed & stressed…..retaining weight no matter what great efforts I am putting in 🙁 🙁

    • Joanna Sochan November 22, 2016 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      Sue, please check my updated post regarding the drug interactions for holy basil.

  19. Tom November 19, 2016 at 7:35 am - Reply

    I have found an astonishing difference in my mental and physical health since recently taking holy basil once a day. Should a person cycle off it at some point in time?

    I really feel like a new person in relation to dealing with stress.

  20. Toka November 14, 2016 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Hi Joanna,

    I’ve been living in PC games when I was a kid, later drug addiction then alcohol addiction. I was always escaping from the “real world”. A year ago dramatically changed my life. Working and living with my fiance. Since I quit alcohol and drugs I got GAD. Unfortunately excercise is not enought. A month ago started taking Gaia herb’s Ashwagandha and Rhodiola with nice result. Decreased anxiety, less brain fog, increased concentration. I’d say 20% less GAD. I’m taking rhodiola before breakfast and lunch, ashwagandha before breakfast and before sleep. Is it a good idea to take holy basil as well?

    • Joanna Sochan November 14, 2016 at 2:42 pm - Reply

      Hi there! Thank you for your comment. Yes, these two herbs should be really helpful for you. Ashwaganda (withania) is especially good for the anxiety of withdrawal (of any substance) in higher doses, same with Rhodiola which is also great for brain fog, memory and brain function in general plus it helps to restore the adrenal glands. Holy basil should be a great addition for you and Gaia herbs brand is very good. FYI there is a great guy here in Australia who has an interesting perspective on drugs and withdrawal methods. His name is Jost Sauer and he has a great website and articles – http://jostsauer.com/. Check it out!
      All the best

  21. Rebecca November 2, 2016 at 2:06 am - Reply

    Hello, I’ve been taking Holly Basil for about a week for high anxiety and insomnia. I’ve been taking 500 mg in the morning and it makes me feel too relaxed, tired and hard to think and I still feel very drugged even 24 hours later. I believe I am bordline diabetic and have been dealing with huge life stressors, a child with autism with extrodenary behaviors and a mom who is during of brain cancer. It feels nice to not be tied up in a bundle of knotted muscles and nerves but I need to be able to function… I have continued to take the holy basil because I am concerned how the stress is effecting my heath, hoping I will get used to it, but it feels I’m dropping the ball on everything else… Any suggestions ?

    • Joanna Sochan November 2, 2016 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      Hello Rebecca
      If you feel that holy basil has these effects on you I suggest you look at other options to deal with stress by consulting with your health care practitioner. If you have hypoglyceamia (low blood sugar) and take holy basil, which lowers blood sugar, it may have an adverse effect in some people.

  22. Dora October 29, 2016 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Hello Joanna,
    I have chronic hypoglycaemia. You mention holy basil lowers blood sugar levels in diabetics. Will it lower those of a hypoglycaemic even further?
    Should I avoid it for that reason, or does it work differently on hypoglyceamic people?

    Thank you for your advice,
    Dora

    • Joanna Sochan October 30, 2016 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      Hello Dora
      Thank you for your question. Yes, I would be cautious using holy basil in hypoglycaemia especially of you are also taking any medications for it. Have you noticed any symptoms after taking holy basil under the circumstances?

  23. Vicky October 25, 2016 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    Hi Joanna. Really nice information about the herb.
    Will taking basil 150mg in an empty stomach (morning) causes excess stomach acid production throughout the day?
    I have been taking it with food (with breakfast and dinner), with no notable differences to my anxiety. So I tried having it in empty stomach. But taking it in an empty stomach gives me gas (may be due to excess stomach acid) throughout the day.

    • Joanna Sochan October 25, 2016 at 10:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Vicky
      Thank you for your feedback. I generally recommend taking herbs with food as they are better absorbed and utilised, and are less likely to cause other symptoms.

  24. Chris September 29, 2016 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    You have done your homework Joanna ! I have been on one of the finest quality liquid capsules of holy basil (Gaia herbs) for 18 months .

    I own a manufacturing firm and have seven kids -so say no more ????

    One capsule at breakfast of 500 mg and one capsule at 4 PM with food keeps me sharp and handling the stress . Really noticed a big difference after two weeks originally. It is helpful to reduce or go off it for two weeks at a time and then resume.

    This herb will cause you to vividly dream as you will find many on it saying this one commenting on this herb and manufacture at Amazon .

    Thank you for doing your homework .

    • Joanna Sochan October 2, 2016 at 8:41 pm - Reply

      Hi Chris! Thank you for your comment. Holy basil is one of my favourite herbs for the adrenal and nervous system health. Thank you for sharing your experience with it, and doses that work for you. Gaia herbs are very good, clean products containing high quality herbs which work.

  25. Maria September 27, 2016 at 5:59 am - Reply

    Hello, thanks for your in depth info on Holy Basil. I just started taking it. I do have some symptoms of adrenal fatigue although, I am never tired during the day. I have trouble falling asleep and calming my “racing mind”. I read holy basil can work to calm the mind. You suggested taking it after dinner with food.

    My bottle says to take between meals. Have you seen success with clients by taking holy basil without food and right before bed? I am looking for natural ways to calm my mind at night and also heal adrenals.

    Thanks!

    • Joanna Sochan September 28, 2016 at 1:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Maria
      I prescribe holy basil in a liquid form in an alcohol base (which is a typical liquid herbal extract form used by herbalists) which is best absorbed when taken with food. I’m not sure what type of preparation you have and why the bottle says to take the herb between meals. I suggest you contact the manufacturer to enquire. Good product companies will be happy to explain their rationale, ingredients etc.

  26. Tyler September 7, 2016 at 5:36 am - Reply

    I found that Holy Basil made me sleepy. Don’t know if that’s just me. I thought it was supposed to help fatigue.

    • Joanna Sochan September 11, 2016 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      It happens with some people. Holy basil helps with adrenal fatigue and tiredness acting as an adaptogen – it corrects imbalances (up or down) as required by the individual. So if you you are sleepy after taking it it suggests you need to rest = sleep to rebalance your body. Herbs are so multi-layered and sophisticated the ways they’re interact with the body!

  27. Dana August 22, 2016 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    Is there anything that you recommend for insomnia that works. I have been on sleeping pills for years and tried almost everything. I would to know if there is something that you know truly works as this is my underlying health issues that have caused so much more.

    • Joanna Sochan August 22, 2016 at 7:52 pm - Reply

      Dana
      To effectively deal with your insomnia you, together with your therapist. need to find the cause(s) of it and then apply suitable treatment and/or lifestyle adjustments. There are so many possible causes of not sleeping well at night: blood sugar imbalances, disruption of circadian (day/night) rhythms, food intolerances, adrenal fatigue, stress, diet etc etc. I hope you’ll find a practitioner who can work with you on solving this issue.

  28. Yadira August 8, 2016 at 5:07 am - Reply

    Hello I have server anxiety and panic attacks that have made me very shaky through out my day for the pass week. I stop taking my medication the doctors gave me which I only have been taking for a week. Today was my first time taking holy basil I took two in the morning. Do you know how fast this product starts to work? I really want to stop feeling like these it’s interfering with my everyday life style… Please help.. Thanks

    • Joanna Sochan August 8, 2016 at 11:54 am - Reply

      Hi Yadira
      From what you wrote it looks like you have symptoms that require a close attention of an experienced naturopath or functional medicine practitioner in order to identify possible cause(s) and then develop a treatment plan tailored for you. Holy basil may be a component of your treatment, again depending on what is happening, but may not help sufficiently taken on its own at this stage. So I suggest you find a practitioner you can work with to address your complaints.
      All the best
      Joanna

  29. Terry June 2, 2016 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Hi,
    I’ve been suffering from panic attacks and anxiety. I was prescribed Lorazepam and took it for 8 years 0.5 mg. I just started taking holy basil and ashwanghada together. Is it true that ashwanghada has the same effect as Ativan? How would you recommend me taking these two herbs?

    • Joanna Sochan June 3, 2016 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      Hi there

      Are you still taking Lorazepam now? I don’t know anything about the background of your complaints but have you ever tried to investigate the cause(s) of your anxiety and panic attacks? I see many clients in my practice with similar issues and test them further, often for pyroluria and/or MTFHR status (there are tests to measure both) which cause the symptoms you’re mentioned. These can be addressed with appropriate supplementation and diet only, no drug will help on a permanent basis.

      Therefore I suggest you see a functional medicine practitioner or a naturopath who will assess your needs.

      All the best
      Joanna

  30. Kathy May 22, 2016 at 1:42 am - Reply

    I have been suffering from extreme anxiety and some panic attacks . I do not do well with pharmaceutical drugs and prefer all natural.. I research and came up with a combination of holy basil and ashwaghanda . I take 2 holy basil in the morning upon rising where one does not seem to do much and mid morning i take the ashwaghanda what i want to know is it safe to take one or 2 more holy basil laster in the afternoon as taking it in the morning does not see me through the day.. thanks so much for you help, Kathy

    • Joanna Sochan May 22, 2016 at 5:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Kathy

      Thank you for your message. I’m afraid I’m not able to comment online any further without knowing more about your condition plus I don’t know what brand of holy basil you are using or how much of it (dose) is in 1 capsule. According to some studies, when taken for nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression, the dose of holy basil leaf extract (dried/ capsules) is between 1,000mg-1,200mg per day in divided doses (twice per day) for at least 60 days.

      Hope this helps
      All the best
      Joanna

  31. Shauna May 12, 2016 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    What dose do you recommend for the treatment of generalized anxiety / mild depression? Thank you!

    • Joanna Sochan May 22, 2016 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      Doses are best tailored to each individual. On the whole for anxiety and/or depression, the approximate dose of holy basil leaf extract (dried/ capsules) is between 1,000mg-1,200mg per day in divided doses (twice per day) for at least 60 days.

      All the best
      Joanna

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  33. Ellie February 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    When taking holy basil for anxiety and depression, is it best to take it in the morning or at night before bed?

    Thank you for your time!

    • Joanna Sochan February 24, 2016 at 8:44 pm - Reply

      Hello Ellie

      I suggest you divide the dose into two and take holy basil in the morning and evening with food, if taking the herbal liquid or capsules.

      All the best
      Joanna

  34. Diane hoote February 22, 2016 at 5:36 am - Reply

    I take holy basil I’m Inax was on colrazapam for 15 years doesn’t work no more so they put me on the the Inax can I take both to get off the Xanax or what?

    • Joanna Sochan February 22, 2016 at 9:57 am - Reply

      Diane

      You need to work with your doctor and a naturopath to adjust/ reduce your medication whilst increasing/ adjusting herbs/ other supplements to replace the medication(s), if appropriate and possible.

      All the best
      Joanna

  35. Heidi December 14, 2015 at 5:45 am - Reply

    Hello, Joanna. Can you tell me anything about diffusing Holy Basil? I was diffusing it for several nights in my bedroom and now am having some really bad feelings. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not. I rather feel like I’m sick or detoxing. Headache, slight dizziness, coughing like from the bottom of my lungs. I’ve done several dextoxes and wouldn’t have thought I have that much going on anymore. The brand is Rocky Mountain, so I’m confident of the purity.

    I can’t find anything on this. Any suggestions are most welcome. Just wondering if these symptoms are known in relation to Holy Basil essential oil.

    Many thanks!

    • Joanna Sochan December 14, 2015 at 11:57 am - Reply

      Hello there

      I don’t use holy basil essential oil in practice and therefore I’m unable to comment on this. Essential oils are very concentrated extracts and have high potency, perhaps your reaction is related to using too much of it for too long?

      All the best
      Joanna

  36. Heather December 5, 2015 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Hi there! I wanted to know if taking holy basil and ashwaganda can they be taken together in the evening or should I take them at different times of the day? I just ordered both and heard they both can make you tired.

    thanks,
    Heather

    • Joanna Sochan December 6, 2015 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Heather

      I often prescribe holy basil and withania (ashwaganda) together in herbal mixes for relevant conditions as they complement each other. However, therapeutic actions of herbs also depend on the dose(s) and your individual response to them (including your overall constitution and your state of health). If you take too much of them, the herbs can be overstimulating, can make you feel tired or trigger various detox reactions such as headaches, aches and pains, muscle pains etc). Therefore I always recommend seeking advice of a qualified herbalist before taking herbal supplements, especially when you also combine them with medications and/or other self-prescribed supplements.

      All the best
      Joanna

  37. stacey November 18, 2015 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Do you have any recomendations for healing adrenals while nursing?

    • Joanna Sochan November 20, 2015 at 6:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Stacey

      I don’t recommend taking adrenal supplements during pregnancy and nursing as they are potent herbs and/or hormones not suitable for the baby. What you can do is to focus on adrenal-supporting nutrition and practice stress relief including as much sleep as possible, under the circumstances!

      All the best
      Joanna

  38. Tommy Harms October 3, 2015 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Are there any dangers of taking Holy Basil while working out? I found online that you are not supposed to do strenuous workouts while taking holy basil.

    • Joanna Sochan October 4, 2015 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Tommy

      Thank your for your comment. I would be interested to know the online source(s) you’re referring to. What was the dose you’re talking about?

      Holy basil is an adaptogen i.e. it supports the body during all types of stress. It significantly supports cardiovascular system and improves exercise endurance, it actually helps to exercise more effectively – it protects muscles from exercise-induced injury, reduces level of lactic acid. So the research I know of supports taking holy basil when exercising. Check out these sample studies http://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=pjbs.2011.1000.1001
      http://www.scialert.net/abstract/?doi=rjmp.2012.37.46

      Also, please remember that herb doses are important and should be tailored to each individual. Depending on the dose, some herbs can act as either stimulants or calming, so across the board prescriptions are not likely to help or address health issues.

      All the best
      Joanna

  39. Kaye June 19, 2015 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Could you please tell me where I can find a reputable seller of Holy Basil supplement in Australia at a reasonable price.
    Looking around the internet it is difficult to decide what is good value for money.

    Thank you

    Kaye Bond

    • Joanna Sochan June 20, 2015 at 1:29 am - Reply

      Hi Kaye

      I recommend the herbal liquid of holy basil by OptimalRx – a herbal manufacturer that produces it in Australia. I suggest you get in touch with them and ask about any practitioners in your area who can prescribe it for you.

      All the best
      Joanna

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