Holy basil, Ocimum sanctum linn, also known as tulsi, is a small, shrubby plant native to India. Holy basil is valued by practitioners of traditional herbal medicine for a variety of purported health benefits. It has anticancer, antidiabetic, antifungal and antimicrobial effects. The herb has also been used to help with the treatment of anxiety and panic attacks. Consult your doctor before using holy basil to treat a medical condition.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Holy basil may be used to treat panic associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and also decrease stress and improve adrenal health, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder may include nightmares, irritability, hyper-vigilance or hypersensitivity, rapid heart rate, increased respiratory rate, or increased blood pressure, in response to life events. Use 400 mg per day of a standardized extract or prepare a tea from holy basil root.
Central Nervous System Effects
In a study published in the November 2003 issue of the "Indian Journal of Experimental Biology," holy basil was demonstrated to have calming effects on the central nervous system that may benefit panic disorder. In the study on laboratory animals, holy basil extract prevented convulsions and compared favorably with the standard anticonvulsant drug phenytoin.
Stress-induced ulcers, which may arise in chronic panic disorder, respond well to treatment with holy basil, according to a study published in the April 1999 issue of the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology." In the laboratory animal study, holy basil decreased gastric acid secretion. Researchers attribute the herb's benefits to antihistamine and anti-oxidant properties of the herb's essential oil and conclude that holy basil may be useful as a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer drug.
In children with autism, adrenal stress can produce fear, anxiety, or sometimes terror, explains registered dietitian Judy Concerse, M.P.H., R.D., L.D., in her book "Special-Needs Kids Eat Right: Strategies to Help Kids on the Autism Spectrum Focus, Learn and Thrive." Concerse recommends holy basil as a safe introductory remedy, along with licorice, ashwaghandha, and rhodiola rosea. Try them out individually before combining them and always do so under your doctor's supervision. These may help prevent or diminish episodes of panic in autistic children.
In the realm of herbal medicine, holy basil is considered an adaptogen, an herb that is endowed with the ability to increase the body's resistance to stress, trauma and anxiety, says David Winston, author of the book "Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief." Holy basil exerts a calming effect by preventing elevations in the stress hormone cortisol. This important medicinal herb also prevents oxidation, promotes healthy nerve function, and protects against radiation damage.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- "Indian Journal of Experimental Biology"; Anticonvulsant Potential of Holy Basil, Ocimum Sanctum Linn., and Its Cultures; R. Jaggi, et al.; November 2003
- "Journal of Ethnopharmacology"; valuation of the Gastric Antiulcer Activity of Fixed Oil of Ocimum Sanctum (Holy Basil); S. Singh, et al.; April 1999
- "Special-Needs Kids Eat Right: Strategies to Help Kids on the Autism Spectrum ... "; Judy Converse; 2009
- "Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief"; David Winston; 2007
- "Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology"; Therapeutic Uses of Ocimum Sanctum Linn; P. Pradesh, et al.; 2005