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So you want to get healthier with supplements.
There’s just one issue…
You have no idea which one to choose.
I could name 50 right off the bat, ranging from herbs, vitamins, liquid extracts, protein powders and more.
But fear not.
‘Cause I’m here to help you pick!
In my Supplement Comparison Series, I put 2 supplements up against each other head-to-head on their benefits, price, side effects and more.
In this piece, we’ll cover Holy Basil vs Rhodiola.
Let’s get started!
What is Holy Basil?
Holy Basil (Ocimum Sanctum) is a leafy, green plant native to India that’s been used to improve health for 1000s of years.
As its name suggests, Holy Basil has spiritual importance in Ayurveda and Hindus see it as one of the most sacred herbs there is.
In fact, Hindus see it as the plant form of Lakshimi – the Hindu Goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity.
And so many Indian families keep a Holy Basil plant in their homes.
What is Rhodiola?
Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea) is an adaptogenic herb which many people use today for its awesome range of health benefits.
It’s grown in many different countries, including France, Iceland and Sweden.
Rhodiola has been used throughout history for its healing properties, and even the Vikings were believed to have used it to boost mental and physical endurance.
Benefits of Holy Basil
Holy Basil may improve sleep quality
Thanks to more electronic light exposure in the evening, many people’s cortisol/melatonin cycles are screwed up.
I.e, their cortisol levels are high and their melatonin levels are low when they shouldn’t be.
The outcome of this for many people is insomnia and sleep troubles.
So, a great way to improve your sleep is to lower your cortisol levels in the evening.
Research has shown that Holy Basil may be effective at lowering Cortisol levels, which will help you get a better, deeper sleep.
(Related reading: Holy Basil For A Deeper Sleep?)
Holy Basil may lower blood sugar
High blood sugar levels are very toxic and dangerous to your body, so your pancreas responds with a massive hit of insulin to lower them.
Ironically, this can lead to low blood sugar levels, making you feel tired, hangry and lethargic.
So, a great way to sustain your energy levels is to keep your blood sugar levels stable, by stopping them from getting too high in the first place.
And this is where Holy Basil enters the picture.
In a study of type 2 diabetic patients, Holy Basil lowered fasting blood sugar levels by 18% and post-meal blood sugar levels by 7%
Holy Basil may boost cognitive function
Now, I don’t want to get philosophical over whether Social Media has improved society, but I think we can all agree that it lowers your attention span.
Don’t believe me?
Just look around you.
People scrolling through their Instagram feed…
Keeping up with the Joneses on Facebook…
Taking selfies on Snapchat….
(Even I’m guilty of this sometimes.)
So, with Social Media not leaving us anytime soon, many people look towards nootropics to increase their attention span.
Research shows that Holy Basil may act as a nootropic thanks to its ability to improve short-term memory and attention.
Holy Basil may improve anxiety
Here’s a shocking fact for you…
Over 40 million US adults are affected by anxiety disorders.
(This makes anxiety the most common mental disorder in America.)
Now time for some good news…
Holy Basil has featured in some clinical trials for treating anxiety and has shown some exciting results.
For example, a study of anxiety sufferers had some subjects take 1000mg of daily Holy Basil.
After 60 days, the subjects reported less stress, anxiety and depression.
(Related reading: Is Phosphatidylserine Good For Anxiety?)
Benefits of Rhodiola
Rhodiola may help reduce fatigue
Fatigue can be caused by many different things, including stress, unhealthy eating habits and poor sleep quality.
As it works as an adaptogen, Rhodiola may help combat fatigue.
One study investigated how taking 576mg of daily Rhodiola affected fatigue in 60 subjects.
After 4 weeks, those who took Rhodiola had improved fatigue levels compared to those who took a placebo.
Another study investigated how taking 400mg of daily Rhodiola affected fatigue in 100 subjects.
After 8 weeks, the subjects had improvements in mood, fatigue, concentration and quality of life.
Rhodiola may boost exercise performance
Research has shown that Rhodiola is great for improving physical endurance.
(It looks like the Vikings were onto something when they used Rhodiola for physical performance…)
One study investigated how taking 200mg of Rhodiola before a cycling test affected the subjects’ results.
Compared to the placebo takers, the Rhodiola takers were able to exercise for 24 seconds longer on average.
Another study investigated how taking Rhodiola before a cycle race affected the subjects’ finishing times.
The results showed that the Rhodiola takers finished the race much quicker than the placebo takers.
Rhodiola may boost cognitive function
Like with Holy Basil, many people use Rhodiola as a nootropic.
In one study, students who used Rhodiola for 20 days experienced better sleep, more motivation and less mental fatigue.
In another study, night shift workers who took daily Rhodiola had less mental fatigue and improved performance than others who took a placebo.
Rhodiola may lower stress
Thanks to its adaptogenic properties, Rhodiola increases your body’s resistance to stress.
One study of 118 people looked at the effects of Rhodiola on stress-related burnout.
At the end of the study, the subjects reported improvements in stress and depression.
Another study had subjects take 400mg of Rhodiola every day for 4 weeks.
After only 3 days, the subjects reported improvements in stress-related symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue and exhaustion.
Holy Basil Cost
Holy Basil is sold in many different forms, including tea, powder, tablets and essential oil.
Here are some standard prices you’ll find for these:
- Tablets: $17 for 100
- Powder: $20 for 1lb
- Loose leaf tea: $30 for 1lb
- Essential oil: $15 for 1/3 oz
Rhodiola is generally sold in capsules. For a mid-range product, the cost is around $18 for 60 capsules.
Holy Basil Side Effects
Holy Basil can lower your blood sugar levels which can be extremely dangerous if you’re taking blood sugar lowering medication. If that’s you, then please consult with a doctor before using Holy Basil.
Also, Holy Basil may slow blood clotting, which may increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. So, it’s advised to stop using Holy Basil at least 2 weeks before surgery.
Rhodiola Side Effects
Although Rhodiola is considered safe, some people have reported mild side effects such as dizziness, headaches and drowsiness.
Also, Rhodiola use should be avoided by those who are pregnant, nursing or are taking prescription MAOIs.
My Holy Basil Recommendation: Banyan Botanicals Tulsi
Banyan Botanicals Tulsi has been my #1 choice of Holy Basil for over a year now.
Since using this supplement, I’ve been sleeping like a baby.
What I like about it
Tons of fantastic reviews shows that this is a trusted Holy Basil supplement, and many people are having excellent results from it.
Also, every single ingredient is natural and organic, making this is one of the cleanest, purest and safest Holy Basil supplement on the market.
It’s pleasing to see that Banyan Botanicals use ecologically friendly farming methods and help support local farmers too.
Those who value price over quality may want to look elsewhere, as it’s not the cheapest option out there.
My Rhodiola Recommendation: Gaia Herbs Rhodiola
Gaia Herbs Rhodiola ticks all the boxes of a fantastic supplement.
It’s high-quality, highly-absorbable and reasonably priced.
What I like about it
Gaia Herbs are levels ahead of their competition when it comes to providing top quality herbal supplements, and for many reasons too.
All their supplements (including this Rhodiola) are checked for heavy metals, pesticides and microbes, so you can swallow these capsules with the peace of mind that they’re clean and safe.
Another great feature is the use of liquid phyto-caps.
This basically means Gaia Herbs use a liquid extract form of Rhodiola before putting it in capsules.
So, you get the benefit of taking Rhodiola in a liquid extract (higher absorption) with the convenience of taking it in a capsule.
Talk about a win-win!
And last but certainly not least, the full traceability Gaia Herbs provide is epic.
When you buy their Rhodiola, they’ll give you all the details of how it was grown, where it originated and how pure and potent it is.
To me, that’s pretty damn cool!
As with my Holy Basil recommendation, this isn’t the cheapest Rhodiola in the world.
So if paying a little bit more for a lot more quality isn’t your type of thing, then feel free to go with a cheaper option.
I won’t be offended in the slightest!
Holy Basil vs Rhodiola: The Verdict
Now that we’re at the end of this Holy Basil vs Rhodiola face off, you should have a solid idea of which one you want to choose.
(That’s if I’ve done my job correctly…)
But if you’re still undecided, then here’s what I’d recommend as a high-level guide:
You might prefer Holy Basil if:
- You suffer from anxiety
- You want better sleep quality
- You want to control your blood sugar
- You want to boost your attention span
You might prefer Rhodiola if:
- You suffer from stress
- You want to reduce fatigue
- You want more physical endurance
Hope this helped!