Holy basil—also known as tulsi—is an ancient medicinal herb. I recently picked up a packet of holy basil tea from one of my favorite farmers and dove into some of the research about it.
My friend Duane is a small farmer here in the Atlanta area. He specializes in medicinal herbs, which he sells as teas, tinctures and shrubs. The holy basil tea that I bought is one of his custom blends and includes other herbs like chamomile and lemon balm.
While we were chatting, Duane mentioned that holy basil is a natural stress reliever. It doesn’t taste very much like other basils at all. It’s a little bit bitter and a little bit earthy, which went well with the flowery chamomile in this blend. I brewed up a cold pitcher that evening, and it was a nice, refreshing summer drink, no sugar needed.
Here are some healthy reasons to give holy basil a try.
1. It may be a natural stress reliever. So far there have only been animal studies on how holy basil impacts stress levels, but the results are promising. A 2002 rat study found that a blend of herbal extracts, including holy basil, helped increase MAO-inhibitor activity in their brains, similar to the way some antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications work.
2. It’s an anti-inflammatory. Guinea pigs given a holy basil oil in a 1991 study had milder reactions to allergens than untreated guinea pigs. Holy basil oil and holy basil extract both helped ease swelling in their hind legs.