Details About Holy Basil

Details About Holy Basil

Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is a member of the mint family. Though it is closely related to the herb, sweet basil (aka Ocimum basilicum), holy basil is much more. The plant comes from tropical Asia (originated in India more than 3000 years ago) but has been transplanted around the globe., is now found in most tropical parts of the world.

Dubbed “The Incomparable One,” holy basil is one of the most sacred plants in India. In Hindu mythology, holy basil symbolizes the goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu, who is one of the religion’s most important deities. The herb has been valued for centuries because of its benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. It found its way into the ancient practices of the Ayurveda, Greeks, Romans, and Siddhas.


Holy basil is a powerful antioxidant with demonstrated antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. That last point could be key. Inflammation can manifest in so many places: from aspects of obesity to the inflammation of nerve sheaths that could contribute to depression to general soreness and discomfort. In Ayurvedic medicine, holy basil treated a variety of conditions: from common cold to bronchitis to fever to certain digestive complaints, including ulcers. Modern science has not proven these benefits, but studies are still ongoing taking a closer look at this herb. Anecdotal data suggests that holy basil helps with of stress relief and relaxation.

Holy Basil and Stress

Stress is a normal and natural part of everyday life. It sparks the freeze-flight-fight response that sometimes save us, but often just leaves us burnt out. Our adrenal glands release stress hormones, including cortisol, adrenaline and corticosterone. When the stressful situation has passed, the hormone levels naturally decline. Usually.

Chronic stress puts in a position of perpetual anxiety. We’re being pumped with stress hormones. They play a role in metabolism, inflammation, and immune system responses. Pumping in cortisol has a key impact of concern: increased appetite, weight gain and exhaustion. This sets us up for collateral effects: depression, anxiety and autoimmune disease.

We can’t live without the freeze-flight-fight impulse. It’s our nature. But holy basil can diminish the long term impacts.

Combatting Stress

Holy basil is an adaptogen. It enhances our natural response to physical and emotional stress. Adaptogens give us more capacity to handle stress and recover from its impacts. Holy basil decreases stress hormone levels. By lowering levels of corticosterone, we gain mental clarity and our memory can improve.