Holy basil is an herb with an aroma so sweet and sharp that many report feeling immediate reductions of stress and enhancements of courage after inhaling its scent. Because of this, it’s well known for its abilities to lift mood and reduce brain fog.
Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) also goes by the name tulsi and is a member of the mint family. It shares its primary active constituent, eugenol, with clove bud essential oil, and as such, these two oils have similar aromas.1
Tulsi has a rich history in India, where it is considered sacred and has both spiritual and religious significance. Additionally, it holds the title of “elixir of life” in Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine in India. It’s this multi-faceted admiration that earned it the name tulsi, meaning the “incomparable one”.2
Is Holy Basil a Nootropic?
Today, holy basil is widely used around the world by those looking to relieve stress because of its role as an adaptogenic herb, a plant that helps the body adapt to stress.
One of the many strengths of holy basil is its ability to protect the body from the harm of the stress response without leading to feelings of fatigue or drowsiness. Many compounds that reduce stress do so with a sedative effect. It’s also known to boost physical endurance and overall vitality, and animal studies suggest that it may help to keep the mind sharp with age.
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Nootropic Benefits of Holy Basil
Protects the Body from Stress
Many health issues and diseases today, from mood disorders to heart disease, can be tied to damage caused in the body from the free radical and inflammatory damage induced by high levels of stress.4
In one of these studies, holy basil extract was found to facilitate an increase in dopamine, which is thought to enhance the ability to cope with stress.6
Boosts Concentration and Memory
Acetylcholine (ACh) is a neurotransmitter that many refer to as the “learning neurotransmitter.” Sufficient levels of ACh are absolutely critical for memory recall and learning. Many popular nootropics work by reducing the breakdown of ACh, which increases the effects of ACh.
In preclinical studies, holy basil inhibited an enzyme responsible for the breakdown of ACh, acetylcholinesterase, thereby increasing levels of ACh in the brain.7
Potentially Prevents Cognitive Decline
Animal studies on the effects of tulsi in mice have led researchers to speculate that this herb may help improve symptoms in those suffering from neurodegenerative disorders.
Many of the benefits of essential oils on how people feel and think are due to the electrical signals sent from olfactory receptors in the nasal passages to the brain. These impulses have been found to impact memories, moods, and even the release of hormones and neurotransmitters.
The high concentration of eugenol and other bioactive compounds found in holy basil essential oil is thought to help boost mood and enhance cognitive function. Try experiencing aromatherapy in a room diffuser or in MONQ’s Healthy diffuser for a portable remedy to help make you feel refreshed.
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