Subscribe to the Magazine for free.
Subscribe for free to keep reading! If you are already subscribed, enter your email address to log back in.
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Are you a healthcare practitioner?
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Categories

Harnessing Holy Basil for Stress Relief and Hormonal Regulation in Endocrine Health

Medically reviewed by 
 
Harnessing Holy Basil for Stress Relief and Hormonal Regulation in Endocrine Health

Stress has a profound effect on human physiology. Stress can wreak havoc on your well-being, from the respiratory and cardiovascular systems to the musculoskeletal framework, the nervous system, and endocrine systems. Utilizing natural medicine therapies for stress management is a viable avenue. Holy Basil for stress and hormonal health support is one evidence-based herbal medicine that assists in these circumstances. As a stand-alone product, Holy Basil can help improve many aspects that negatively influence internal and external stressors. Taking the information in this article while committing to a holistic approach to stress management and endocrine health can support long-term optimal health. 

[signup]

Understanding Stress and Its Impact on Endocrine Health 

Stress is a physiological response in the body due to a perceived experience of real or imagined threats. It can manifest as mental, emotional, or physical distress and is often poorly recognized as a culprit to internal health dysfunction. The endocrine system includes the glands that produce, regulate, and monitor hormones. These glands include the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, pineal, pancreas, ovaries, and testes. One gland in particular that is affected by stress and contributes to stress modulation is the adrenal glands. These walnut-sized glands sit on top of each of your kidneys and function primarily as hormone secretors. During stressful experiences, the adrenal glands will secrete cortisol. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone, also known as a steroid hormone, intended to follow a circadian rhythm. If secreted properly, this hormone peaks in the morning to help increase your energy and alertness. It then decreases as the day progresses, reaching its lowest level at bedtime. The release of cortisol is predicated on the interconnectedness of other endocrine glands through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. 

Communication between these three glands signals when to release specific hormones, including cortisol, in response to stressful experiences. Prolonged stress impacts endocrine health, in which heightened hormonal release can lead to conditions like adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction. Maintaining homeostasis within the HPA axis is critical to a healthy stress response and preventing adverse gland function. One avenue to help support these glands and the physiological stress response is herbal medicine. 

What is Holy Basil? 

Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi or Ocimum sanctum, is an Ayurvedic medicine botanical used to help your body manage stress. Traditional uses of Holy Basil have been for metabolic benefits, neurocognitive support, mood conditions, immune system support, and as an adaptogen. Adaptogen assists the body in adapting to both internal and external stressors and how they affect your physiology. The profile of Holy Bail includes the active compounds eugenol, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid, and the adaptogenic specific constitute Ocimumosides A and B. The stress-reducing properties of Ocimumosides A and B happen through blood sugar control, balancing other hormone markers like corticosteroids in the body, and reducing adrenal hypertrophy. Taking the HPA axis into account here, the leaf extract of O. sanctum also has thyroid protective benefits. Holy Basil can support multiple glands in the stress response, making it an excellent therapeutic option. 

Holy Basil in Stress Management 

There are a variety of botanicals used to help relieve stress. Given its historical and clinical use, Holy Basil is an effective option. Two studies about stress revealed that Ocimum tenuiflorum (another name for Holy Basil) can both decrease anxiety and reduce the symptoms associated with stress. Specifically, a study revealed a 39% improvement in forgetfulness, sexual dysfunction, sleep disturbances, and feelings of exhaustion in comparison to the placebo growth over six weeks of taking 1200mg per day. 

An additional study found that after just eight weeks of using a Holy Basil product, there was a reduction in cortisol, salivary amylase, and blood pressure and an improvement in subjective measures of stress such as mood and sleep. Tulsi also improves cortisol secretion by supporting the central nervous system, which can directly impact your cognitive stress response. If you’re experiencing stress, adding Holy Basil as part of your stress management repertory can support your efforts to decrease the adverse reactions you experience from both internal and external stimuli. 

Holy Basil and Hormonal Regulation

Holy Basil can impact various hormone pathways. The HPA axis, insulin regulation, and sex hormones are three avenues this Holy Basil can use for hormonal regulation and balance. This botanical is a therapeutic option for supporting a healthy thyroid gland, which can impact the HPA axis pathway. Adaptogens such as Holy Basil help regulate cortisol levels, which also helps with mood and stress response. How stress affects physical, mental, and internal organs significantly influences hormonal regulation. For example, heightened stress can increase glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormones, and prolactin, which can go on to propagate hormonal dysfunction.  Tulsi has been shown to help all three areas, which can inherently support health hormone processes.

Regarding blood sugar control, metabolic stress can lead to insulin resistance, a critical factor in metabolic syndrome. In studies, Holy Basil decreased fasting blood glucose, postprandial glucose, HbA1C, and other metabolic syndrome markers. Ocimum tenuiflorum has shown promising results for treating hyperandrogenism, a hallmark symptom in the hormonal endocrine disorder Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Many cases of PCOS also include insulin resistance, which makes this botanical an even more favorable option. Utilizing Holy Basil to support hormonal dysfunction, primarily when associated with blood sugar issues and stress, is a multi-functional natural option. 

Dosage and Administration of Holy Basil 

There are a variety of administrations in which individuals can consume this Aruyvedic herb. Traditionally, Tulsi tea is the method that those implementing an Aruyvedic practice would consume the leaves and flowers of this plant. Sipping on Tulsi tea is not uncommon worldwide, as it has many benefits to overall health. A therapeutic dose for this natural remedy as a tea would be 4oz three times a day of 1/2 tsp of dried Holy Basil leaf steeped in hot water. Other forms of Holy Basil administration include tincture extracts and capsules. Single extract tinctures have a general dosing of 2-3mL three times per day. Specifically for treating stress, Ocimum tenuiflorum has been studied at doses of 1,000 to 1,200mg daily for eight weeks or six weeks (respectfully). Effectively incorporating Holy Basil as a treatment option should consider the practical route of administration for each person. Additionally, dosing should always be under the guidance of a practitioner trained in herbal medicine. 

Potential Interactions and Side Effects 

Medical interventions, whether natural products or synthetic, often come with the risk of adverse reactions or side effects. Holy Basil is generally considered safe but should be avoided in those allergic to mint family herbs, pregnant and lactating women, cautioned in those trying to conceive, with low blood sugar, or if you are taking blood thinning medication. Specific drug-herb interactions that are documented include the potential to affect the mechanism of action of Scopolamine, Pentobarbital, and Diazepam. Side effects of Holy Basil include a drastic decrease in your blood sugar, increased bleeding, and impacts on fertility since it can play a part in hormone regulation. While this is a highly effective and safe plant medicine, it’s always best to consult your integrative medicine practitioner before beginning a new regimen. 

Integrating Holy Basil with Other Therapeutic Approaches 

Taking a holistic and integrative approach to managing stress involves many lifestyle changes and consideration for supplementary support like Holy Basil. While this herbal medicine can be very impactful, it would maximize its benefits quickly if you are not taking the necessary steps to address chronic internal and external stressors. Working on stress management through sleep optimization, exercising, nutrition, and supporting the mind-body connection. Everyone responds to stress at a different cadence and has a unique capacity to deal with and overcome specific stressors. While stress is a natural part of acclimating to daily changes in life, chronic or persistent stressful situations or triggers should be addressed so that deep healing can happen. Combining Holy Basil with a personalized and comprehensive approach to managing how stress impacts your endocrine system can provide an effective avenue to mitigate the harmful effects of stress.

[signup]

Holy Basil for Stress Relief: Key Takeaways

Holy Basil is an adaptogenic herb that, when given in the right circumstances, can improve stress, contribute to hormonal regulation, and profoundly impact endocrine and metabolic balance. By supporting the HPA axis, Tulsi can reduce cortisol secretion, decreasing the adverse effects of a stress response. Through physical, mental, and internal organ modulation, compounds in this plant, like Ocimumosides A and B, can decrease blood sugar and hormones that would otherwise spike cortisol release. Considering your case, formulating a root-cause approach that addresses increasing stress and hormone dysfunction can present an excellent opportunity for Holy Basil to support your mind and body. 

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
Learn More
No items found.

Lab Tests in This Article

No items found.

References

  • 5 Tulsi Holy Basil Benefits: Dosage & Safety | the Botanical Institute. 1 Nov. 2021, botanicalinstitute.org/tulsi-holy-basil/. Accessed 22 Jan. 2024.
  • American Psychological Association. “Stress Effects on the Body.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 1 Nov. 2018, www.apa.org/topics/stress/body.
  • Cloyd, Jaime. “A Functional Medicine Approach to Stress Management.” Rupa Health, 2 Oct. 2023, www.rupahealth.com/post/a-functional-medicine-approach-to-stress-management.
  • Cohen, M. M. (2014). Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 5(4), 251-259. https://doi.org/10.4103/0975-9476.146554
  • Jamshidi, N., & Cohen, M. M. (2017). The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: ECAM, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/9217567
  • Lopresti, A. L., Smith, S. J., Metse, A. P., & Drummond, P. D. (2022). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigating the effects of an Ocimum tenuiflorum (Holy Basil) extract (HolixerTM) on stress, mood, and sleep in adults experiencing stress. Frontiers in Nutrition, 9, 965130. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.965130
  • Pattanayak, P., Behera, P., Das, D., & Panda, S. K. (2010). Ocimum sanctum Linn. A reservoir plant for therapeutic applications: An overview. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 4(7), 95-105. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-7847.65323
  • Pingale, Suresh & Firke, Narayan & Markandeya, A.G.. (2012). Therapeutic activities of Ocimum tenuiflorum accounted in last decade: A review. J Pharm Res. 5. 2215-2220.
  • Ranabir, S., & Reetu, K. (2011). Stress and hormones. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 15(1), 18-22. https://doi.org/10.4103/2230-8210.77573
  • ---. “The Relationship between the Sleep Stress Cycle.” Rupa Health, 15 Mar. 2023, www.rupahealth.com/post/the-relationship-between-the-sleep-stress-cycle.
  • Cloyd, Jaime . “How to Interpret Your Cortisol Urine Test Results.” Rupa Health, 30 Oct. 2023, www.rupahealth.com/post/how-to-interpret-your-cortisol-urine-test-results.
  • ---. “The Impact of Stress on Thyroid Health and How to Manage It with Integrative Medicine.” Rupa Health, 4 July 2023, www.rupahealth.com/post/the-impact-of-stress-on-thyroid-health-and-how-to-manage-it-with-integrative-medicine.
  • Cox, Aric D. “10 Most Common Adaptogens & Their Medicinal Benefits.” Rupa Health, 2 Dec. 2022, www.rupahealth.com/post/adaptogens.
  • Diorio, Brianna. “How to Test for Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis Dysfunction.” Rupa Health, 17 Mar. 2023, www.rupahealth.com/post/what-is-the-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-hpa-axis.
  • Greenan, Shawn. “Hypothyroid vs. Adrenal Fatigue: Know the Signs and Symptoms.” Rupa Health, 23 June 2021, www.rupahealth.com/post/hypothyroid-vs-adrenal-fatigue-know-the-signs-and-symptoms.
  • “Holy Basil Uses, Benefits & Dosage - Drugs.com Herbal Database.” Drugs.com, www.drugs.com/npp/holy-basil.html#dosage. Accessed 22 Jan. 2024.
  • “Holy Basil: Uses and Risks.” WebMD, www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/holy-basiil-uses-and-risks.
  • McEwen, B., & Sapolsky, R. (2006). Stress and Your Health. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 91(2), E2. https://doi.org/10.1210/jcem.91.2.9994
  • Maholy, Nicole. “How to Reduce Stress through Mind-Body Therapies.” Rupa Health, 14 Apr. 2023, www.rupahealth.com/post/how-to-reduce-stress-through-mind-body-therapies.
  • Pachiappan, Sudhakar, et al. “Medicinal Plants for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Review of Phytomedicine Research.” ~ 78 ~ International Journal of Herbal Medicine, vol. 5, no. 2, 2017, pp. 78–80, www.florajournal.com/archives/2017/vol5issue2/PartB/5-6-30-753.pdf#:~:text=Ocimum%20tenuiflorum%20L.%20%28Lamiaceae%29%20is%20a%20traditional%20herbal. Accessed 22 Jan. 2024.
  • Preston, JheriAnne. “The Top 10 Evidence-Based Herbs to Support Adrenal Health.” Rupa Health, 11 Sept. 2023, www.rupahealth.com/post/the-top-10-evidence-based-herbs-to-support-adrenal-health.
  • Saxena, Ram Chandra, et al. “Efficacy of an Extract OfOcimum Tenuiflorum(OciBest) in the Management of General Stress: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, 2012, pp. 1–7, https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/894509.
  • Sweetnich, Jerrica. “Integrative Treatment Options for Adrenal Disorders: Specialty Testing, Nutrition, Supplements.” Rupa Health, 12 June 2023, www.rupahealth.com/post/integrative-treatment-options-for-adrenal-disorders-specialty-testing-nutrition-supplements.
Subscribe to the Magazine for free. to keep reading!
Subscribe for free to keep reading, If you are already subscribed, enter your email address to log back in.
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Are you a healthcare practitioner?
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.