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Holy Basil: Stillness in Action

Published on August 01, 2023

By Gaia Herbs

Gaia Herbs

For a small decorative-looking plant, Holy Basil has a big reputation. It’s a natural solution for supporting upper respiratory health, the immune system, and supporting healthy cognition.REF#2478

At Gaia, we grow Holy Basil on our certified-organic farm in Brevard, North Carolina. The flowering plants are breathtaking and almost as impressive as the benefits you’ll find they contain. Let’s explore the attributes of the plant, the history of its use, and how scientific research has proven its ability to help restore the body’s homeostatic functions. 

We’ll also discover the secrets of this ancient herb's medicinal powers and understand how its use can help keep us centered and encourage the restoration of equilibrium in our bodies. After we cover the health benefits, we’ll also give you a few suggestions for how to use Holy Basil in supplement form. 

What is Holy Basil?

From a gardener's perspective, Holy Basil is an aromatic perennial in the plant family Lamiaceae. It’s also known scientifically as Ocimum tenuiflorum and Ocimum sanctum L., and commonly as tulsi, tulasi, and “The Queen of Herbs.” There is such a variety of names because of its native land. 

Native to the Indian subcontinent, Holy Basil is now grown all over the world, including the Mediterranean and in the Asian tropics. All parts of the Holy Basil plant are used, including the leaves, stems, and seeds. Our fields of Holy Basil always draw the attention of visitors who love their fragrant blooms and the crisp, green leaves set against the vivid purple flowers. 

But don’t be fooled by their beauty; they are no ordinary houseplants. They’ve been relied upon for centuries for their healing properties. 

History of Use

Holy Basil is a staple in Ayurvedic medicine. It is known in the Ayurvedic text as the Incomparable One. Practitioners of Ayurveda and people of the Hindu religion believe that it is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver and protector of the Universe.REF#2475 It has been used in India for millennia to support total well-being and help practitioners reach a state of enlightenment. 

Use of Holy Basil Today

Today, the Western world is catching up and learning how to add Holy Basil to wellness routines. Research into the benefits of Holy Basil has revealed it is a powerful adaptogen.

Adaptogens work by helping the body’s natural stress response stay balanced and interacting with homeostatic functions that can sometimes become off-balanced (like immunity or glucose regulation).REF#2476 Adaptogens meet your body where it is at, helping lower or raise responses as needed to bring the body back to balance. 

Let’s dive deeper into the adaptogenic effects of Holy Basil leaf extract and explore the health benefits of this mighty herb. 

What Are the Benefits of Holy Basil?

Understanding what your herbs can do for you is important. Here, we’ll explore the health benefits of Holy Basil on a deeper level.

Respiratory Support 

Nothing can bring us down faster than an illness. When it delivers congestion to your upper respiratory system, you can end up feeling miserable, missing work, and skipping social events. Finding ways to support your respiratory system is key to keeping it healthy and experiencing fewer bouts of congestion. 

Holy Basil’s adaptogenic properties can help support your respiratory system and healthy lung function. It’s packed with iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin C, and chlorophyll and also contains plenty of antioxidants to help protect your cells from free radical damage.REF#2477

Free radicals are created in the body in response to external stressors like pollution and cigarette smoke. They create an imbalance in the body that can damage cells through a process called oxidative stress. Antioxidants protect your cells against oxidative stress, which is why a balance between antioxidants and free radicals is important. 

Together, the compounds and antioxidant properties help bolster your immunity and safeguard your lungs, keeping you more comfortable no matter what the cold season brings. 

Blood Sugar Support

Many people struggle to regulate their blood sugar. Unhealthy blood sugar levels can lead to insulin resistance and disease if left untreated. 

Proper glucose uptake by the cells is a homeostatic function that can become off-balanced, leading to undesirable health conditions. Luckily, taking Holy Basil can help support your blood glucose levels.REF#2478 In studies, Holy Basil has also helped ease symptoms of dysfunctional blood sugar levels.REF#2478

It’s worth noting that if your unregulated blood sugar levels are due to type 2 diabetes, your healthcare professional should help you decide if taking Holy Basil as a complementary dietary supplement would be helpful for your healthcare routine. 

Nourishes the Adrenals

The adrenal glands respond when the body is under stress by producing hormones like norepinephrine (also called adrenaline) and cortisol. When the stress response is unhealthy, the adrenals may become overworked. Supporting their natural function is easy with Holy Basil extract.REF#2478

Because Holy Basil is adaptogenic, it can help recalibrate and support the adrenals, helping calm and naturally lower the stress response in the body. The stress-relieving effects of Holy Basil can help you feel more at ease and respond to stress healthily.REF#2478 

Cholesterol Support

Amid the flavonoids and plant phenols inside Holy Basil is an essential oil called eugenol. In animal studies, this oil can help support healthy cholesterol levels, which is promising for human trials.REF#2479

Because Holy Basil leaves work to regulate metabolic stress in the body, it’s hypothesized that it could also help support healthy cholesterol and lipid function.REF#2479 

Cognitive Function

Because Holy Basil has an adaptogenic effect on the body’s stress response, it can be a great addition to your daily health stack to support healthy brain function. The flavonoids in Holy Basil can help support the brain’s stress response and memory functions, encouraging brain health.REF#2478

Many people like to take Holy Basil when feeling unfocused, overtaxed, or overstimulated. Helping you feel more focused is an effect of tulsi that was relied upon for deeper meditation sessions. 

With immune support, stress relief, blood sugar, and cholesterol support, and better mental clarity topping the list of Holy Basil’s benefits, you’re probably wondering how to add this adaptogen into your everyday life easily. Don’t worry — it’s easy to do. 

What Are the Side Effects of Holy Basil?

Side effects are rare, but it’s always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional for medical advice before adding a new herb to your routine. This is especially true if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, if you have high or low blood pressure, and if you have diabetes or low blood sugar.

Getting the Most From Holy Basil

Getting the most benefit from your herbal supplements requires consistency. You don’t experience change without practice, and taking a supplement every day allows it to integrate into your body. Take Holy Basil consistently for best results, and make sure you take it along with caring for your body in other ways. 

Getting plenty of exercise and eating a well-balanced diet are two foundational keys to supporting your health. You can get more benefits and experience more balance when you can check these boxes. 

Here at Gaia Herbs, we understand that life can get a little crazy sometimes. We all need a little extra support every now and then. We’re dedicated to supporting your wellness from every angle with pure, organic, and powerful herbal supplements. To learn more, visit our blog today.


  • 1. , "The Sacred Tulsi", TulsiMandir.Com. Accessed June 21, 2023.
  • 2. 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.
  • 3. Pattanayak P, Behera P, Das D, Panda SK, "Ocimum sanctum Linn. A reservoir plant for therapeutic applications: An overview", Pharmacogn Rev. 2010 Jan;4(7):95-105.
  • 4. Negar Jamshidi, Marc M. Cohen, "The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature", Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2017, Article ID 9217567, 13 pages, 2017.
  • 5. Yates, Beverly ND, "Holy Basil: A Review of the Research and Clinical Indications", CDN Natural Dispensary. Accessed June 21, 2023..