Holy Basil vs Ashwagandha: Why They're Both Amazing Adaptogens

There are so many amazing herbs out there that have many health benefits, but it is hard to know the best option for your specific needs. 

Some herbs, like holy basil and ashwagandha, have many of the same benefits, so how do you know which one is better for you, or if you can take them together?

Keep reading to find out more about holy basil and ashwagandha, what they are, their benefits, and how you can add these to your healthy lifestyle.  

What Is Holy Basil?

Holy basil (ocimum tenuiflorum), also known as ocimum sanctum and tulsi, is an herb native to India and grows throughout Southeast Asia. This plant has violet flowers and green stems that can sometimes have a purple tinge. This basil plant is spicier than the typical basil you would use in your marinara sauce. 

For thousands of years, holy basil has been used for medicinal purposes in Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurvedic medicine is a traditional Indian medical ideology that is still practiced today. It is thought to be one of the oldest systems of medicine, along with traditional Chinese medicine. The leaves, stems, and seeds are all used to help support your body in different ways. 

What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) is an herb native to Asia and Africa. It is also known as Indian winter cherry and Indian ginseng. This herb is a small shrub with small, pale green flowers and red berries. The roots are similar to carrots or ginger, with their tubular shape. Ashwagandha is a member of the nightshade family, like tomatoes and potatoes.

Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years. Both the leaves and roots can be used, however, generally the purest ashwagandha supplements are thought to be from the roots alone. Ashwagandha has been used to support both mental and physical health.

Holy Basil and Ashwagandha: The Adaptogenic Powerhouses

Holy basil and ashwagandha have both been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. They are also both known as adaptogenic herbs, which means they help counteract mental and physical stress in the body. Adaptogenic herbs work by bringing homeostasis to the central nervous system, specifically when it comes to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. 

While there are some differences between holy basil and ashwagandha, since they are both adaptogenic herbs, they do also offer many of the same benefits. They are, however, very different in how they taste. 

Holy basil has a spicy note to it, much like a pepper or clove. It is used in Thai cooking and in teas. On the other hand, ashwagandha is not often used in cooking. With its name translating to “smell of the horse” it does not have the best aroma, and is not used to enhance flavors. 

The Benefits of Holy Basil

In Ayurveda, holy basil is known as “Mother Medicine of Nature” and “The Queen of Herbs.” From internal to external ailments, there isn’t much this powerful herb cannot support. 

Holy basil is known for its ability to support your immune system, and has been known to help manage cough, fever, nausea, and diarrhea. 

When compared to placebo participants, holy basil has also been shown to support mental health, and may help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. It also helps to strengthen memory and cognitive skills including age-related memory loss, by supporting brain health. 

Holy basil has anti-inflammatory properties, which help protect against free radicals and oxidative stress in the body. This anti-inflammatory activity may help support liver, kidneys, and heart health. Holy basil may also help lower blood sugar levels and protect against metabolic stress and support metabolic function and weight management. 

The Benefits of Ashwagandha

Known as a Rasayana in Ayurveda, ashwagandha root is thought to promote longevity and vitality in both physical and mental health. It has been shown to support reproductive and sexual health. 

Ashwagandha has also been shown to support stamina during physical exercise supporting muscle strength and lungs. It may also support memory and cognitive function in the brain. The anti-inflammatory effects of ashwagandha also support joint and cartilage function. It has also been shown to support metabolic function

Ashwagandha has been widely used for its support in mental health and stress. During times of stress, your adrenal glands release the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol levels rise it helps your body in stressful situations by regulating your blood pressure, lower inflammation, increase your blood sugar, and boost your energy. 

Cortisol levels should go down after the stressful event goes away, but sometimes your body can get stuck in a constant state of stress, which can present itself as feelings of anxiety or depression, sleep issues, and decreased memory. Ashwagandha has been shown to lower cortisol levels, helping to support mental health, sleep health, and brain health. 

Can You Take Holy Basil And Ashwagandha Together?

Ashwagandha and tulsi are often used together in tea or supplement form. Because they have many of the same benefits, and they are both adaptogens, they have been used together in Ayurvedic medicine for a very long time. 

This combination may support your mental and physical health by reducing stress and supporting your brain, heart, and lung health. It may also offer anti-inflammatory properties to support cartilage and joint health.

How Long Does It Take For Holy Basil And Ashwagandha To Work?

Holy basil and ashwagandha may start working at different times, which is a good reason to take both of them together. 

Ashwagandha has been shown to start working within the first two weeks. 

People report feeling the full benefits of holy basil in about 60 days. 

How Much Holy Basil And Ashwagandha Should I Have Per Day?

Determining how much of an herbal supplement you should take really depends on you and your needs. You can start by taking the smallest recommended dose and gradually increasing it, until you get the effects you are looking for. 

The average starting dose for both holy basil and ashwagandha is around 300 mg for an adult. 

If you ever have any questions about the correct dose of holy basil and ashwagandha or you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should talk to your healthcare provider. 

Holy Basil

You can find holy basil as a tea or pill. The average daily dose is 300 to 2,000 mg per day, depending on your needs. You can also make tea from the leaves by steeping two to three leaves (or two to three teaspoons of dried leaves) in boiling water for five to six minutes. 

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha can be found in both capsule form and powdered form. You can add the powder to smoothies, hot beverages (like the Change Your Life Latte here at Kroma Wellness), or baked goods. It has an earthy, bitter taste. The average daily dose is between 250 to 600 mg per day, depending on the benefits you are looking for. 

Conclusion

Holy basil and ashwagandha are strong adaptogenic herbs. When you put them together, they may support your mental health, reduce emotional and physical stress, protect against infection, support memory and cognitive skills, and has anti-inflammatory properties 

At Kroma, we love bringing the best functional, whole foods to you in an easy way. 

Our 5-Day Reset Program combines the best superfoods with adaptogenic herbs to help support your wellness from the inside out. 

 

Sources: 

Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity | NCBI

Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons | NCBI

An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda | NCBI

In vivo, Extract from Withania somnifera Root Ameliorates Arthritis via Regulation of Key Immune Mediators of Inflammation in Experimental Model of Arthritis | NCBI

Hypoglycemic activity of withanolides and elicitated Withania somnifera | PubMed

A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults | NCBI

Holy Basil to Beat Stress and Sleep Better | Parkinson’s Resource 

Ashwagandha for Anxiety | PT