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Monograph Library

Strest (Holy Basil and Rhodiola Combo)

The manifold consequences of stress - Adrenal Tonic 

Chronic stress wreaks havoc on the adrenal glands, impairs immune function, aggravates mood and energy levels,while heightening the body’s level of inflammation. Adrenal hormones like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol have a dramatic impact on the proper functioning of the immune system.

A large and comprehensive meta-analysis conducted in 2004 shows that chronic stress suppresses both cellular and humoral measures of immunity.[1] Not only that, but in 2011 a study conducted at Umeå University showed that those with chronically elevated cortisol levels also have shortened telomeres, i.e. those organelles within cells that prescribe the number of cell divisions that are possible within a lifetime. Which means that, ultimately, chronic stress affects a person’s lifespan.[2] Yet another study, for example, shows that high cortisol levels exacerbate memory dysfunction in older adults.[3]

The critical role of adaptogenic herbs

The term “adaptogen” was first coined by Russian scientists to describe substances meant to enhance a state of non specific resistance to stress, and its definition has more recently been refined as “a new class of metabolic regulators which increase the ability of an organism to adapt to environmental factors and to avoid damage from such factors.”[4] Among other things, adaptogens reduce oxidative stress on the body.[5] It is thought, moreover, that the stress-protective action of adaptogens is achieved through the regulation of homeostasis by way of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (i.e.  HPA axis) and other mechanisms mediating stress response (e.g. molecular chaperons, stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase 1, Fork head box O transcription factor DAF-16, cortisol, and nitric oxide).[6]

Strest®: a powerful adaptogenic cocktail

Apart from the aptly adjunctive milky oat seed, which was used by the Eclectics (i.e. herb-oriented physicians of the 19thand early 20thcenturies) for debility, general prostration from overwork, anxiety, and worry,[7],[8] Strest is a formula founded on adaptogens, principally rhodiola and holy basil. 

Spoon with rhodolia flakes inside on a brown table

Keyed to Rhodiola and Holy Basil

Also known as “golden root,” rhodiola has been described in a recent comprehensive review as an immunomodulatory agent with significant anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour properties, not to mention that it counteracts endotoxemia, which refers to the presence of endotoxins in the blood. In addition, studies show that it is antimicrobial and anti-oxidative.[9] As a neurorestorative, rhodiola is almost as effective as conventional antidepressants, but with superior tolerability.[10] In the same vein, it has been found protective against Alzheimer’s because it acts to suppress oxidative stress in neuronal tissues.[11] There is intriguing evidence too that this herb may delay aging and extend longevity.[12] 

Revered in Ayurveda as an “elixir of life,” holy basil has been subject to countless scientific studies that show it to have a broad array of therapeutic properties.[13] An antioxidant, holy basil reduces DNA damage and has anti-tumour qualities, even while protecting the body against toxic stress from chemicals, heavy metals, and radiation.[14] With its many beneficial actions (e.g. anti-diabetic, antilipidemic), it also protects the body against damage from physiological and metabolical stressors.[15] A recent study suggests that holy basil inhibits cortisol release.[16] Its anti-inflammatory response, moreover, has been likened to that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.[17] Besides being a broad spectrum antimicrobial, this herb is neuroprotective and improves cognition.[18] 

With a strong supporting cast

Ashwagandha, another classic Ayurvedic adaptogen, has several significant pharmacological properties. These include anti-stress, neuroprotective, and anti-inflammatory qualities,[19] as well as a neuroprotective action.[20] Ashwagandha has been found to lower cortisol levels significantly in chronically stressed individuals.[21] Also, a 6-month pilot study completed in 2014 that used an ashwagandha extract with 50 adults suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) showed significant improvements in memory and mental function.[22]

Donald Yance describes eleuthero, also known as Siberian Ginseng, as “the king of adaptogens.”[23] With its broad and compelling range of therapeutic actions,[24] eleuthero is anti-inflammatory[25] and protects against oxidative stress,[26] for example, while its liposoluble fraction has been shown to have a significant effect against fatigue.[27] In his clinic, this herb is one of the remedies to which Alan Tillotson resorts most frequently for stress-induced fatigue.[28]

Schisandra is a plant of ancient standing in TCM. The main constituents of schisandra berries include polyphenolic compounds called lignans, which are considered some of the most active principles, as well as volatile oil, phytosterols, and vitamins C and E.[29],[30] Because schisandra is an adaptogen, it has immediate effects on the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems.[31] An overview of the large body of Russian research that has been done on schisandra remarks on its pharmacological action not only on these three systems but on the sympathetic nervous system, respiratory, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems as well.[32] Meanwhile, another recent study points to the protective effects that schisandra’s lignans have against cognitive deficits and neurodegeneration.[33]

Active Ingredients (per ml):

  • 25 ml of rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea, root) tincture 1:4 (QCE 63 mg)
  • 25 ml of holy basil (Ocimum sanctum, leaf)tincture 1:4 (QCE 63 mg)
  • 16 ml of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, root) tincture 1:4 (QCE 40 mg)
  • 16 ml of eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus, root) tincture 1:4 (QCE 40 mg)
  • 12 ml of milky oat seed (Avena sativa, seed) tincture 1:1 (QCE 120 mg fresh) OR 1:4 (QCE 30 mg dry)
  • 06 ml of schisandra (Schisandra chinensis, fruit) tincture 1:4 (QCE 15 mg)

Non-Medicinal Ingredients: Certified Organic alcohol, Distilled water 

Recommended Dose:

Adults: Take 3 ml (90 drops) 2 times daily in a little water on an empty stomach. Not to be taken immediately before bedtime.

Duration of Use:

Consult a health care practitioner for use beyond one month. 

Health Canada Approved Use Claims

Used in Herbal Medicine for temporary relief of symptoms of stress, such as fatigue and sensation of weakness.

Cautions and Warnings

Consult a health care practitioner before use: ifyou have bipolar disorder, a bipolar spectrum disorder, diabetes, or any type of acute infection; if you are taking antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), birth control pills, or heart medications. Consumption with alcohol or other drugs or natural health products with sedative properties is not recommended. Consult a health care practitioner if symptoms worsen or persist.


Do not use: ifpregnant or breastfeeding; ifyou have high blood pressure.

Known Adverse Reactions

Hypersensitivity has been known to occur, in which case, discontinue use. 

Quality Summary

Our products are all third party tested to ensure the absence of pesticides, microbes, and heavy metals and to confirm purity and stability.  

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Who is it for

  • Those who want to mitigate the physical and emotional effects of stress
  • Anyone in need of a boost in mood and energy levels depleted by adrenal fatigue

How it helps

  • A potent combination of stressreducing agents
  • Keyed to classic adaptogens Rhodiola and Holy Basil
  • Enhances healing homeostasis through regulation of HPA axis and other mechanisms mediating stress response


[1] - SC Segerstrom and GE Miller, “Psychological stress and the human immune system: a meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry,” Psychological Bulletin2004 July; 130(4): 601-30.

[2] - M Wikgren et al, “Short Telomeres in depression and the general population are associated with a hypocortisolemic state,” Biological Psychiatry 2012 February; 71(4): 294-300.

[3] - SC Segerstrom et al, “Endogenous Cortisol Exposure and Declarative Verbal Memory: A Longitudinal Study of Healthy Older Adults,” Psychosomatic Medicine2016 Feb-March; 78(2): 182-91.

[4] - A Panossian and G Wikman, “Effect of adaptogens on the central nervous system,” Arquivos Brasileiros de Fitomedicina Científica2005; 3(1):29-51.

[5] - Jill Stansbury et al, “Supporting Adrenal Function with Adaptogenic Herbs,” Journal of Restorative Medicine2012 September; 1(1): 76-82.

[6] - A Panossian and G Wikman, “Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity,” Pharmaceuticals (Basel)2010 January; 3(1): 188-224.

[7] - F Ellingwood, The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy,1919.

[8] - FJ Petersen, Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics, 1905.

[9] - Kunjan Khanna et al, “Golden root: A wholesome treat of immunity,” Biomedicine and Pharmacology2017 March; 87: 496-502.

[10] - Jay D Amsterdam and Alexander D Panossian, “Rhodiola rosea L. as a putative botanical antidepressant,” Phytomedicine2016 June; 23(7): 770-83.

[11] - Seyed Fazel Nabavi et al, “Rhodiola roseaL. and Alzheimer’s Disease: From Farm to Pharmacy,” Phytotherapy Research 2016 January; 30: 532-539.

[12] - M Jafari et al, “Rhodiola: a promising anti-aging Chinese herb,” Rejuvenation Research2007 December; 10(4): 587-602.

[13] - N Jamshidi and M Cohen, “The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature,” Evidence-Based and Complementary and Alternative Medicine2017 March; 1-13.

[14] - M Cohen, “Tulsi—Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons,” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 2014 Oct-Dec; 5(4): 251-259.

[15] - M Cohen, op.cit.

[16] - Richard E Jothie et al, “Anti-stress Activity of Ocimum sanctum: Possible Effects on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis,” Phytotherapy Research2016 May; 30(5): 805-14.

[17] - M Cohen, op.cit.

[18] - S Sampath et al, “Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) leaf extract enhances specific cognitive parameters in health adult volunteers: A placebo controlled study,” Indian J Physiol Pharmacol  2015 Jan-Mar; 59(1): 69-77.

[19] - NJ Dar et al, “Pharmacological overview of Withania somnifera, the Indian Ginseng,” Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 2015 December; 72(23): 4445-60.

[20] - T Kuboyama et al, “Effects of Ashwagandha (roots of Withania somnifera) on neurodegenerative diseases,” Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin2014; 37(6): 892-7.

[21] - K Chandrasekhar et al, “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,” Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine2012;34:255–262. 

[22] - D Choudhary et al, “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera(L) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions,” Journal of Dietary Supplements2017 Feb 21; 14(6): 599-612.

[23] - Donald R Yance, “Eleutherococcus senticosus,” Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism, Healing Arts Press, 2013.

[24] - L Huang et al, “Acanthopanax senticosus: review of botany, chemistry and pharmacology,” Pharmazie2011 Feb; 66(2): 83-97.

[25] - Y Takahashi et al, “Prophylactic and Therapeutic Effects of Acanthopanax senticosusHarms Extract on Murine Collagen-induced Arthritis,” Phytotherapy Research2014 May; 28: 1513-19.

[26] - X Wang et al, “The protective effects of Acanthopanax senticosusHarms aqueous extracts against oxidative stress: role of Nrf2 and antioxidant enzymes,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology2010 Feb; 127(2): 424-32.

[27] - LZ Huang et al, “Antifatigue activity of the liposoluble fraction from Acanthopanax senticosus,” Phytotherapy Research2011 June; 25(6): 940-3.

[28] - Alan Keith Tillotson, The One Earth Herbal Sourcebook, New York: Kensington, 2001, p. 204.

[29] - Ikhlas A Khan and Ehab A Abourashed, Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics,Third Edition, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2010; pp. 564-68.

[30] - Anthony Godfrey and Paul Richard Saunders, “Schisandra chinensis,” Principles and Practices of Botanical Medicine, Volume I: Botanical Medicine Monographs,Toronto: CCNM Press, 2010, pp. 434-35.

[31] - David Winston and Steven Maimes, Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2007, pp. 195-198.

[32] - A Panossian and G Wikman, “Pharmacology of Schisandra chinensis Bail.: an overview of Russian research and uses in medicine,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology2008 July; 118(2): 183-212.

[33] - X Zhao et al, “Total Lignans of Schisandra chinensis Ameliorates Ab1-42-Induced Neurodegeneration with Cognitive Impairment in Mice and Primary Mouse Neuronal Cells,” PLoS One2016 April; 11(4):1-21.

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