An Essential Guide to Holy Basil

Published on May 20, 2022

By Gaia Herbs

Gaia Herbs

Stress can be an unwelcome visitor in our lives, no matter the time of year or the state of the world. Sometimes it can feel like there's no escaping it, and we may turn to unhealthy habits to cope. But what if there was a natural remedy that could help us manage our feelings of stress more effectively?

Ayurvedic practitioners traditionally used this herb for thousands of years to relax the nerves and encourage positivity, and it remains a powerful tool today.* Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine that originated in India over 5,000 years ago. The word Ayurveda means "the science of life," and it’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit.

Ayurveda encompasses a wide range of practices, including diet, herbal medicine, massage, and yoga, and is still widely practiced in India and other parts of the world. Its principles are deeply rooted in Indian culture and philosophy and have influenced many aspects of daily life, including food choices, hygiene practices, and social customs.

In this guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about this powerful herb — from its benefits to its uses — so you can start feeling more centered and in control of your health. Including Holy Basil in your routine may help.

Discover more about Holy Basil and why it is considered an herbal essential.

Holy Basil for Botanical Balance*

Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum Linn or Ocimum tenuiflorum) is a perennial herb, which means that it can grow for at least two years and is native to South and Southeast Asia. It belongs to the Lamiaceae family, which includes other herbs, such as Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum).

Favoring warm, tropical climates, the Holy Basil plant blooms during summer. However, if you plant Holy Basil seeds in containers, they will be able to grow year-round as long as they are moved inside during the winter months. REF#1635

This herb produces beautiful, edible, tiny purple flowers with versatile uses. The aerial parts (the leaves, stems, and seeds) are used in herbal remedies. They are a delicious addition to salads and delightful to brew for tea. This herb is widely available in supplement form, as well as in teas and extracts.

Its aromatic leaves and delicate flowers can add a distinct flavor to various dishes, including soups and curries. Indian and Thai cuisines use this herb for its potential health benefits and warm, sweet flavor.

Holy Basil is one of the most popular herbs we grow on our certified organic farm. Visitors' eyes light up when they enter the Holy Basil fields with aromatic, bright green leaves and regal stalks of purple flowers.

History of Holy Basil

Holy Basil, also called Tulsi, has been revered in Ayurveda and traditional Western herbalism and integrative medicine for thousands of years. Records of Holy Basil can be found in the “Charaka Samhita,” an Ayurvedic text believed to have been written around 400-200 BCE and considered the most important text in Ayurveda.REF#1636 In this text, Holy Basil is described as “the incomparable one” and is believed to be a reincarnation of the goddess Tulasi, a consort of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu.

People believe keeping a Tulsi plant in their homes can bring peace, prosperity, and good luck. This sacred plant represents fidelity and is used for spiritual growth.* Holy Basil is categorized as a Rasayana, which supports a foundation of wellness within the body.* In Ayurveda, this foundation begins in the body's chakras or energy centers. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that Holy Basil can balance the chakras and promote goodness and virtue.* REF#1637

Western herbalism considers Holy Basil to be an adaptogen. Adaptogens are herbs that help create homeostasis, or balance, within the body.* These herbs can benefit the body in many ways, including stress support, nourishing the adrenal glands, balancing the mood, and even supporting immune health.*

It has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb due to its analgesic and immune-boosting properties. Although Holy Basil is primarily used in India for therapeutic benefits, scientific research has also demonstrated its pharmacological potential.

Scientific Research of Holy Basil

One of the most well-known benefits of Holy Basil is its potential to support healthy blood sugar levels. Some studies have suggested that it can also support healthy fasting blood glucose levels, making it a potential complementary remedy for those with blood sugar concerns. However, healthcare professionals advise against relying solely on dietary supplements for maintaining blood sugar levels. REF#1638

Holy Basil may have potential benefits for cardiovascular health. Animal studies have shown that holy basil can support healthy blood pressure levels. Several clinical trials have indicated that Holy Basil may support cognitive function and soothe feelings of stress in humans, indirectly contributing to healthy blood pressure levels. REF#1638

However, more human research studies are needed to determine potential support benefits further.

Its adaptogenic properties may help the body adapt to various kinds of stressors, which can cause imbalanced blood pressure. Adaptogens like Holy Basil can support the nervous system, which manages the body’s stress response. REF#1641

Clinical trials have also investigated the effect of Holy Basil on blood clotting and enzymes. An ethanolic extract from Holy Basil leaves may support healthy blood clotting. REF#1639

Holy basil may also affect cholesterol levels. Studies have shown it may support healthy total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels due to its phytochemicals, including flavonoids, ursolic acid, and eugenol. REF#1638

Holy Basil has also been used as a traditional mouthwash to support oral hygiene and address various dental problems. Research has suggested that mouthwash containing Holy Basil and other herbal extracts can support dental and gum health. Moreover, research has suggested that Holy Basil can help support healthy microbe growth and minimize the development of irritations such as ulcers. REF#1640

Another study found that Holy Basil extract may support immune function by supporting the production of specific immune cells. The study suggests that Holy Basil may be a useful herbal supplement for individuals looking to support their immune systems. REF#1638 REF#1639

Aside from its therapeutic potential, Holy Basil has valuable nutrient content. It contains calcium, vitamin C, and enzymes that can support the immune system and protect against free radicals. Studies have demonstrated that Holy Basil leaf extract shows significant activity against oxidation, which can help minimize damage to cells and tissues. REF#1639

Potential Side Effects of Holy Basil

While Holy Basil is generally considered safe, there have been reports of side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. REF#1638 Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should avoid Holy Basil supplements due to limited information on their safety in these populations. REF#1639

It is important to note that the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way as pharmaceuticals. It’s critical to seek medical advice before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you are taking any medications or have any underlying medical conditions.

Our Favorite Holy Basil Products

We believe in the power of nature to support health and well-being, and Holy Basil is one of our favorite herbs to work with. We offer a range of Holy Basil products, from capsules to liquid extracts, to suit different preferences and needs. We hope you will find our Holy Basil products as beneficial and empowering as we do.

Adrenal Health® Daily Support

Nourishing the adrenal glands is essential when combatting stress. If the adrenals are fatigued, you will likely feel run-down and depleted. Because the adrenals affect so many internal functions, including the body’s stress response, sleep patterns, and mood, these glands must be cared for. Our best-selling Adrenal Health® Daily Support formula contains a revitalizing blend of adaptogenic herbs. Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Schisandra, help care for your adrenals when life's daily stressors are taking a toll on your body so that you can stay energized.*

Calm A.S.A.P.®

Stress can come from all directions, but certain situations feel more intense than others, such as a job interview or a doctor's appointment. Getting quick support is important to maintain a clear head for occasions of increased anxiety. Calm A.S.A.P.® is an award-winning formula to help you remain calm and collected when facing life's challenging moments.*

Holy Basil Leaf

Holy Basil contains many essential oils such as Eugenol and Ursolic, and Rosmarinic acids. These tend to have antioxidant properties and can further aid in creating equilibrium within the body.* We offer this revered adaptogenic herb in a Holy Basil Leaf, Certified Organic liquid extract, and Holy Basil Leaf Liquid Phyto-Caps® so you can pick the best format for your lifestyle.

Stress Response®

Giving the body extra support to help manage stress is essential, especially as we continue to adjust to our “new normal” of quick, masked grocery store trips and staying six feet apart from others. Stress Response® is a synergistic blend of adaptogens that can help you better cope with extra stress.*

Made with Holy Basil, Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, and Schisandra, this formula can help you live a more balanced life and maintain healthy energy levels so stress doesn’t leave you feeling run-down.*

Get To Know Your Herbs

We believe that it's important for our customers to understand how we make their supplements and where they come from. That's why we provide detailed information about our sourcing, testing, manufacturing processes, and educational resources about herbal supplements and their benefits. is a website that allows customers to enter the ID number on their Gaia Herbs product and access information about the herbs used in that specific product. The website also provides information about where the herbs were grown, harvested, and processed and details about the quality assurance testing performed on the final product.

Gaia Herbs also offers an Herb Reference Guide that provides information about various herbs and their potential health benefits. 

Customers can use this resource to learn more about the herbs they are interested in and how they may be able to support their health and well-being. This transparency lets customers make informed decisions about their supplements and ensures they receive the highest quality products.

Stay Centered with Holy Basil*

Even if the days are now bright and sunny outside, you may not be feeling the same. In these times, remember there are herbs that can help you create your own sunshine.* Holy Basil is one of these herbs and it truly lives up to its nickname of “the incomparable one.” With its adaptogenic properties that help the body adapt to various kinds of stress, this may be the perfect herb to help us all navigate through this unique year.* 


  • 1. , "What Is Holy Basil – Holy Basil Uses And Growing Conditions", Gardening Know How.
  • 2. , "The Ancient Ayurvedic Writings", The Ayurveda Institute.
  • 3. Winston, David, "Adaptogens: Herbs For Strength, Stamina And Stress Relief", 2019.
  • 4. Jamshidi N, Cohen MM., "The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature.", Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:9217567..
  • 5. Ashok Kumar Sah, M Vijaysimha, Md. Mahamood., "The Tulsi, Queen of Green Medicines: Biochemistry and Pathophysiology – A Review.", Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Rev. Res., 50(2), May - June 2018; Article No. 16, Pages: 106-114.
  • 6. Hosamane M, Acharya AB, Vij C, Trivedi D, Setty SB, Thakur SL., "Evaluation of holy basil mouthwash as an adjunctive plaque control agent in a four-day plaque regrowth model.", J Clin Exp Dent. 2014 Dec 1;6(5):e491-6..
  • 7. Panossian A, Wikman G., "Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity.", Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010 Jan 19;3(1):188-224..