Generic Name: Osimum Sanctum
Brand Names: Holy Basil Extract, Holy Basil Leaf
Drug Class: Herbals
Available Dosage Forms: Tea, capsule, extract, tincture, and leaf
What is Holy Basil?
Holy Basil is recognized as a sacred plant in South Asian culture. It has numerous health benefits. Ayurvedic medicine has utilized the healing properties of Holy Basil in the treatment of diseases affecting multiple organs.
Anxiety is a mental illness that evolves in response to long-term stress in humans. Constituents in Holy Basil, namely eugenol, nerol, terpenene4-01, camphor alpha and beta-pinene, luteolin, carvacrol, are suggested to play a role in the anxiolytic effects of the herb.2 Unpleasant situations trigger the release of the stress hormone (cortisol) and may also upregulate the concentration of brain-damaging free radicals.
Continued release of cortisol disrupts CNS processing and compromises the function of several organ systems. Anxiolytic constituents of Holy Basil downregulate cortisol levels and inhibit the formation of free radicals. Thus, the constituents help to improve stress-coping mechanisms in the brain and reduce the expression of anxiety.
A study conducted by Chatterjee, Verma, Maurya, and Palit investigated the effect of the oral administration of 50-200 mg/kg of Holy Basil on depression and anxiety levels in rats. It was observed that Holy Basil induced antianxiety and antidepressant effects in the forced swimming test, tail suspension test, light/dark test, and rotarod test, which are used as animal models to assess anxiety and depression.1 It alleviated depressive symptoms in a dose-dependent manner.
How to use Holy Basil?
Holy Basil can be consumed in many ways. Dried leaves can be turned into a tea by simmering 2 g of dried herb in 16 ounces of water for 30 minutes. The tea can be consumed three times a day daily. Similarly, it can also be consumed as juice or smoothies by adding Holy Basil extract from tinctures into them. Holy Basil can also be supplemented in the form of capsules.
Holy Basil is consumed at different dosages depending on individual needs. The recommended dosage is 2 g of the dried herb twice a day. The usual dosage is 300-600 mg/day of dried leaves for preventive treatment. For curative purposes, 600-1800 mg/day of dried leaves are consumed. Since consuming high doses at once can induce side effects, dosages are usually divided into 2 or 3 parts a day. Children should be given a quarter or half of the adult dosage. Therapeutic effects are usually elicited around a week to a month after consuming the herb.
What are the side effects of Holy Basil?
Holy Basil is generally safe when consumed orally for up to six weeks. However, mild side effects may include:
-Low blood pressure
-Low blood glucose
Who should not use Holy Basil?
People with the following conditions should not use Holy Basil:
-People on insulin therapy
-People with bleeding disorders
It should not be used by infants and toddlers or anyone with scheduled surgery. Moreover, hypersensitive individuals, pregnant and lactating women, should consult the health care provider before consuming Holy Basil.
Holy Basil may potentiate the risk of bleeding if used with anti-coagulant drugs. It might also interact with other drugs. Therefore, be sure to get approval from your doctor before starting Holy Basil supplements.
- Chatterjee M, Verma P, Maurya R, Palit G. Evaluation of ethanol leaf extract of Ocimum sanctum in experimental models of anxiety and depression. Pharm Biol. 2011;49(5):477-483. doi:10.3109/13880209.2010.523832
- Jagdale SG, Limaye RP, Kulkarni RP. Effects of Opium in Relieving Stress and Anxiety: An Experimental Study. Int J Adv Res. 2019;7(9):1003-1005. doi:21474/IJAR01/9748