Why Tulsi is My New Favorite Herb for Stress Support

Dec 20, 2022

Whether you are looking for a morning boost of calming clarity, everyday stress support, or enhanced immune function – tulsi has you covered. 

Tulsi, also called holy basil, is known as the "Queen of Herbs" and has been utilized in Ayurvedic medicine for nearly 5,000 years. The plant grows in abundance throughout India and other regions of Southeast Asia—from sea level up to 6,000 feet. There are a variety of tulsi species that vary in growing habit, flavor, and body system-affinity, but all varieties of tulsi can support our nervous, immune, and metabolic systems.

Tulsi has the unique ability to calm the nervous system while also improving cognitive function. While caffeinated beverages like coffee can lead to agitation and burnout, a daily dose of holy basil can improve cognitive factors such as reaction time, error rate, and memory. Four different clinical studies showed consistent use of holy basil leads to significant improvements in mood and cognitive function, regardless of the age and sex of the participants, form of the herb, or the dosage.  

As an adaptogen, tulsi allows us to better deal with the stressors of everyday modern life. The unique and powerful pharmacological actions of holy basil support the body in coping with emotional, environmental, chemical, and even infectious stressors. During a six-week study, use of holy basil resulted in generally lower stress levels, less feelings of exhaustion, and better sleep. Also, it’s been shown that when tulsi is taken over a longer period of time, there is more of a reduction in overall feelings of stress and anxiety. So whether you begin your day with a hot mug of tulsi or have it within your nightly cup of Do Not Disturb (our signature formula featuring tulsi) your nervous system will thank you.  

Many traditional herbal modalities, like Traditional Chinese Medicine, believe that adaptogenic herbs should be avoided during an active acute infection. But tulsi’s unique antiviral and antibacterial properties make it a good choice for supporting us against potential pathogens while we are feeling under the weather. At least five clinical studies have shown its ability to enhance immune response, whether that is during an active sickness or for extra protection during cold and flu season. In India, it is believed that ingesting holy basil on an empty stomach leads to the most immune-boosting benefits.

Lastly, tulsi has the potential to regulate an array of metabolic processes within the body.  Studies have shown its potential for balancing both blood glucose and lipid levels. Combined with a healthy diet, consistent use of the herb can support our organs (like our kidneys and liver) that can become taxed due to metabolic disorders. Tulsi can also support the liver through supporting the body's natural detoxification processes. 

Tulsi truly does it all. And as someone who lives through the Midwest’s cold and dark winter months, it’s become my number one adaptogen to support both my physical and mental health time after time. 


About Casie Giroux

Casie Giroux is a Clinical Herbalist with a background in communication sciences, herbal product formulation and creation, sustainable wildcrafting, teaching, and organic farming.  She attended the California School of Herbal Studies in Forestville, CA and earned certificates in three progressive programs: Body Systems, Roots of Herbalism, and the Community Herbalist clinical program. When she’s not assisting Apothékary clients with their health and product questions, you can find her growing her own food and medicine, foraging for abundant plants, camping by the water, and cooking up herbal-infused foods.