Fresh Clips: Chill with Holy Basil

Try helping yourself to a big dose of holy basil the night before you expect to have a noisy, hectic day. A new study reported in Neurotoxicology found that basil extracts helped lab rats cope better with stress caused by loud noise.

Rats exposed to loud noises of 100 decibels (90 dB is considered a stressor) experience oxidative changes that can lead to brain tissue damage. Researchers from the University of Madras in India found that giving rats extracts of holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) before exposing them to noise kept stress markers from increasing. The rats were given basil extracts daily for 15 days before, as well as during, their exposure to loud noise.

This isn’t the first time plants have been found to help ease stress. The benefit probably is due to antioxidants in the plants, and holy basil is a good source of antioxidants, including flavonoids, phenolics and carotenoids.

Cindy Jones, Ph.D., is owner of SageScript Institute (