Ocimum tenuiflorum or Tulsi plant (तुलसी) is a venerated plant and Hindus worship it in the morning and
evening with a common name as Holy Basil, Surash. Tulsi is a deity for a Hindu and a Hindu household is considered incomplete if it doesn't have a tulsi plant in the courtyard.
Apart from its religious significance it is of great medicinal significance, and is a prime herb in Ayurvedic treatment. Tulasi has been widely known for its health promoting and medicinal value for thousands of years.
Tulsi is a principal medicinal herb of Ayurveda, the ancient traditional holistic health system of India. Tulsi is known as “The Incomparable One”,
“The Mother Medicine of Nature”, and “The Queen of Herbs”. Vagbhata, Nighantu Adarsha, Agnipurana, Vishnupurana, Padmapurana, Garudapurana
and Tulsi Kavacham, written between 500 BC and 1200 AD, the plant Tulsi is continuously mentioned as one of the main pillars of herbal medicine.
Tulsi leaves can work wonders against indigestion, abnormal blood pressure, intestinal worms, gastroenteritis, cold cough, heart diseases and even some mental ailments. It can increase the pace of fresh blood formation.
Family: - Lamiaceae
English - Holy Basil
Latin - Ocimum tenuiflorum (Ocimum sanctum L.)
Hindi - Tulsi (तुलसी)
Sanskrit Tulsi, Tulasi, Surasah
Parsi - Rehan
Marathi - Tulas
Tamil - Karuttulaci, Tulasi
Telugu - Tulasi.
Postal Stamp on Tulsi (तुलसी)
Basil works well as a hair moisturiser. Applying basil on your scalp helps to soothe scalp infections and irritations. Application of
basil oil promotes hair growth by stimulating circulation to your scalp.
Tulsi is found all over the country. It is an annual plant, 30-90 cm high, much branched; stem and branches usually purplish,
sub- quadrangular; 2.5-5 by 1.6-3.2cm. eliiptic oblong obtuse, pubescent on both sides and minutely gland- dotted.
It is a branched, fragrant and erect herb plant. The Tulsi flowers are small, reddish-purple in color, present in small compact clusters on cylindrical spikes.
The fruits are small and the seeds are reddish-yellow in color. The Tulsi plant with light green leaves is called Rama Tulsi and the plant variety with dark red leaves is called Krishna or Shyama /Manjari Tulsi. A variety of white Tulsi is also found.
A variety of biologically active compounds have been isolated from the leaves including ursolic acid, apigenin and
luteolin. Essential oil of Tulsi have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties and possess 100% larvicidal activity against the Culex mosquitoes. Tulsi contains keenol, ascorbic acid, carotene and
alkalide, rosmarinic acid , eugenol, carvacrol, linalool, β-caryophyllene (about 8%), β-elemene (c.11.0%), and germacrene D (about 2%).
The different types of basils have different scents due to their different essential oils. The strong clove scent of sweet basil is derived from eugenol. African blue basil has a strong camphor smell because it contains camphor and camphene.
From the Skanda Purana "Just by touching Tulsidevi one's body becomes pure. As per Hindu mythology, just a leaf of tulsi was apparently enough to balance the weight of Lord Krishna. By praying to her, all diseases practically become removed. If one waters her or makes her wet, the fear of Yamaraja
is destroyed." A Hindu household is considered incomplete if it doesn't have a Tulsi plant in the courtyard.
The plant is accorded the sixth place among the eight objects of worship in the ritual of the consecration of the Kalasha, the container of holy water. According to one legend, Tulsi was the incarnation of a princess who
fell in love with Lord Krishna, and so had a curse laid on her by his consort Radha. Tulsi is also mentioned in the stories of Meera Bai and of Radha.
The story of
Lord Krishna has it that when Krishna was weighed in gold, not even all the ornaments of
Satyabhama could outweigh him. But a single tulsi leaf placed by Rukmani on the pan tilted the scale.
In the Hindu mythology, tulsi is very dear to Lord Vishnu so tulsi is also called ‘Vishnupriya’. The story goes that Tulsi was the paramour of
Lord Vishnu विष्णु) . Out of Jealousy, Goddess Laxmi (महा लक्ष्मी) cursed her into becoming a plant and the Lord
transformed himself into the sacred Shalagrama Stone to keep her company. Tulsi is ceremonially married to Lord Vishnu annually on the 11th bright day of the month of Karttika in the lunar calendar. This festival
continues for five days and concludes on the full moon day, which falls in mid October. This ritual, called the Tulsi Vivaha inaugurates the annual marriage season in India.
Tulsi has been widely known for its health promoting and medicinal value for thousands of years. Commonly called sacred or holy basil, it is a principal herb of
Ayurveda, the ancient traditional holistic health system of India. Tulsi is known as “The Incomparable One”, “The Mother Medicine of Nature”, and “The Queen of Herbs”.
In Ayurvedic medicines it is used as a whole plant, the leaves, root, stem and the essential oil. Essential oil of Tulsi have antibacterial, antifungal and
antiviral properties. It inhibites the growth of E coli, B.anthracis, M.tuberculosis etc. It's antitubercular activity is one-tenth the potency of
streptomycin and one-fourth that of isoniazid. Essential oil of Tulsi has been reported to possess 100%
larvicidal activity against the Culex mosquitoes. Trials have shown excellent antimalarial activity of Tulsi. It's extracts have marked insecticide activity
against mosquitoes. Essential oil of Tulsi was found to have anti-allergic properties. When administered to laboratory animals, the compound was found to inhibit mast cell deregulation and histamine release in
the presence of allergen. These studies reveal the potential role of Ocimum sanctum extracts in the management of immunological disorders including allergies and Asthma
Tulsi used in medicines as:
Help to reduce stress: Extracts from the plant have been found to reduce stress.
Anti diabetic: In a clinical test it is found that
person suffering from Type II Diabetes was given a daily dose of 2.5 g of Tulsi leaves powder or juice
of tulsi for two week periods. The results showed 17.6 % reduction in fasting blood glucose and 7.3% decline in postprandial blood glucose on treatment with Tulsi.
Heart ailments and Blood pressure: Tulsi (basil) has a positive effect over
Blood Pressure and also a de-toxicant, its regular use prevents Heart Disease. A tonic
may be prepared by mixing 1 gm of dry 'Tulsi' leaves with a spoonful of butter and some candy sugar or honey. Take twice a day; first
thing in the morning and before going to bed at night. The drinking of Tulsi-leaf tea keeps the blood pressure normal.
In Cough: The drinking of Tulsi-leaf tea keeps one free from cough and colds and other ailments associated with 'Kapha' dosha in the body. Or you could chew the leaves from time to time.
In seasonal fever: Take Tulsi leaf juice with pepper thrice a day to bring down the temperature and clearing the infection.
In bronchitis in children: The juice of the leaves is given thrice a day in catarrh and bronchitis in children.
In night blindness': Instill 2 drops of tulsi leaves in the eyes daily at night blindless.
In ear infection: When there is a pus in the ear and the ear emits a foul ordour, a few drops of tulsi extract should be installed in the ear to clear the pus and combat infection.
In irritation or pain in the throat: Gargle with warm water in which tulsi leaves have been boiled, and drink the same, until relief is obtained.
In hives or urticaria: Take an infusion of tulsi leaves, neem leaves and fenugreek seeds with honey.
In Maleria : Tulsi plant is a repellent against mosquitoes and other insects and Tulsi leaves
and juice extracted from the leaves are found to be cures against Malaria a mosquito-born fever.
In Indigestion: Tulsi is also a remedy against constipation, indigestion, poor appetite and acidity.
Health problems in women: Tulsi is known to help solve health problems in women that are associated with menstruation and pregnancy. Tulsi strengthens the
body's immune system in children and protects them from common infections.
In Swine Flu: Tulsi can not only keep the dreaded Swine flu or H1N1 flu
at bay but also help in fast recovery of an afflicted person, Ayurvedic practitioners claim. "The anti-flu property of Tulsi has been discovered by medical experts across the world quite recently. Tulsi improves the body's overall defence mechanism
including its ability to fight viral diseases. Tulsi can control swine flu and it should be taken in fresh form. Juice or paste of at least 20-25 medium sized leaves should be consumed twice a day on an empty stomach.
Dissolves kidney stones: The holy basil being a great diuretic and detoxifier is great for the
kidneys. The Tulsi plant is a Stone-breaker Plant Tulsi helps reduce the uric acid levels in the blood (one of
the main reasons for kidney stones is the presence of excess uric acid in the blood), helps cleanse the kidneys, the presence of acetic
acid and other components in its essential oils helps in breaking down kidney stones and its painkiller effect helps dull down the pain
of kidney stones. To relieve kidney stones one must have the juice of tulsi leaves with honey, every day for six months to help wash out the stone from the kidney.
Ayurvedic practice recommends Tulsi in several formulations to enhance immunity and metabolic functions as
well as in the management of respiratory problems. Recent pharmacological studies have established the anabolic, hypoglycemic , smooth muscle relaxant, cardiac depressant, antifertility, adaptogenic and immunomodulator properties of this plant.
Ayruvedic practioners recommend consumption of 2 grams of the freshly dried herb, usually with tea, twice daily for preventive therapy. Higher doses are used in curative therapies.
The Carak Samhita is primarily a book on medical therapeutics in Ayurveda, describing tulsi as herbal
health tonics and rejuvenators for longevity and prevention of disease, as well as daily regimens for better living, including diet which varies for different body types and different diseases. The text integrates the art and science of living.
Vagbhata (Godbole et al.,1966), Nighantu Adarsha ( Vaidya,1985), Agnipurana (Vedavyasa, 1966), Vishnupurana (Garg,
1982), Padmapurana ( Vedvyasa, 1960), Garudapurana (Vedavyasa, 1964; Shastri, 1968) and Tulsi Kavacham (Dymock et al., 1893), written
between 500 BC and 1200 AD, the plant Tulsi is continuously mentioned as one of the main pillars of herbal medicine. Early references
describing Ayurvedic, Unani and folklore uses of Tulsi are noted by Dymock et al., (1893); Nadkarni, (1908-revised, 1982); Kirtikar and Basu (1935),Varier, (1996); Sharma, (1999) and Chopra et al.,(1996)
Tulsi is taken as an herbal tea. The herb has now conquered several country's tea houses, which
offer Tulsi in combination with other aromatic blends. Whether hot or cold, the tea brewed from the ingredients tastes equally good. Tulsi tea is an excellent tea made from Tulsi, green rooibos,
chamomile, and rose blossoms gives relief for colds, fever, bronchitis, and coughs.
You can make tulsi tea by adding some leaves of Tulsi in the boiling water and adding honey to it. Stir the mixture for a while and your tea is ready. You can also mix it with milk and tea leaves
as per your choice. To make it more tastier you can also add some ginger to it. A cup of tulsi tea in the morning is delightful and beneficial to maintain a healthy immune system to prevent cold.
There are three types of tulsi that are commonly used for the preparation of tea. They are: Krishna Tulsi, Rama Tulsi and Vana Tulsi.
Researchers at the Poona College of Pharmacy claim that the herb tulsi (holy basil) has antioxidant properties that fights aging. The Poona study, presented at the
British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester, U.K., found that basil extracts protect against free radicals. Ayruvedic practioners recommend consumption of 2 grams of the freshly dried herb, usually
with tea, twice daily for preventive therapy. Higher doses are used in curative therapies. Tulsi leaves have a pungent taste and are used in some Indian dishes and its extract is popular in some Ayurvedic medicines as a rejuvenation drug.
Tulsi Oil is extensively used as a flavouring for confectionary, baked goods, sauces, tomato pastes,
pickles, fancy vinegars, spiced meats, sausages and beverages. It is also used for scenting dental and oral preparations and in
certain perfume compounds, notably jasmine blends to impart strength and smoothness.. Essential oil of Tulsi have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties and possess 100% larvicidal activity against the Culex mosquitoes. The
plant’s essential oil is extracted and used for medicinal and aromatic purposes. The oil is used in traditional medicine for coughs, colds and chest congestions, mosquito-repellent, pesticide and flavouring agent.
Oil extraction methods: There are three most common methods- steam distillation, alcohol
extraction, and supercritical extraction. During steam distillation, the plant material is permeated with steam. As the plant tissues
break down, the essential oils, key compounds, and water vapor are released, then collected and cooled. The volatile essential oil condenses and separates, and the key hydrophilic components can be easily isolated.
Alcohol extraction is one of the most frequently used methods for extracting botanical compounds.
The plant constituents are fully dissolved, then purified through a distillation process. An alcohol is then applied to extract the key
components from the other alcohol-insoluble plant constituents. A secondary distillation process removes the alcohol, leaving only the pure, concentrated key components.
Supercritical extraction uses carbon dioxide (CO2) under extremely high pressure to isolate key
components. The process involves low temperatures, ensuring the ingredients are not affected by high heat that could alter or weaken the beneficial compounds. Once the extraction is completed, the carbon dioxide is re-released into the atmosphere
An initiative for manufacturing and marketing of tulsi garlands in the remote Behtana village in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan has ensured profitable monetary returns for nearly 150 women who were earlier waging a daily
struggle against poverty. The Lupin Human Welfare and Research Foundation has launched the project for evolving a workable model
for livelihood in the village which it had adopted about three years ago. The task of preparing tulsi garlands was selected in view of Behtana’s proximity to places of religious significance in Uttar Pradesh.
In Keniya: In several community based tulsi farms in Kenya, village women remove the leaves from harvested branches. The leaves are first sorted according to size, weighed and the farmer paid accordingly. The leaf then takes
four days to dry, spread out on trays much like in a tea factory, but without electric blowers for drying. The leaves are then packed into 30-kg sacks. The distillation room can handle 10 kgs of leaf per process, extracting 200-300 gms of essential oil from the leaf. The
entire process, from steaming to decanting takes three hours. This is an ideal economic initiative that is alsovenvironmental and suitable to poor women of every country.
Indian-American leads US scientists to genetically engineer Tulsi
Led by an Indian-American, a team of scientists at a US university are genetically engineering tulsi or basil to enhance its pharmaceutical value, the institute said on January 18, 2014.
Medicinal value of basil seeds
In his lab at the Owensboro facility, Chandrakanth Emani, Assistant Professor of Plant Molecular Biology at the Western Kentucky University
and his students are genetically engineering the basil to produce more eugenol, a compound in basil that "has a very great pharmaceutical value because it's shown to control breast cancer," the University said in a statement.
Holy basil combat stress
Holy basil functions as an adaptogen, enhancing the body's natural
response to physical and emotional stress. Adaptogenic herbs do not alter mood, but rather, they help the body function optimally during
times of stress.
Multiple scientific studies examining this property of Ocimum sanctum have found that supplementation with various extracts of holy basil decrease stress hormone levels, corticosterone in
particular .Lower levels of corticosterone are associated with improved mental clarity and memory, and long-term, can reduce the risk of age-related mental disorders.
Research has also shown that the triterpenoic acids isolated from holy basil effectively improve the body's response to stress.
Parampara presents a drive for tulsi
Over the last eight years, Parampara has been busy distributing
lakhs of free tulsi saplings, setting up tulsi groves or ‘vans' in schools, apartment complexes and commercial centres, besides
promoting the concept of gifting tulsi saplings at weddings and official gatherings.
Treating inflammatory diseases and arthritis
Basil contain large amounts of (E)-beta-caryophyllene (BCP), which might have a use in treating inflammatory bowel diseases and
Arthritis BCP is the only product identified in nature that activates CB2 selectively; it interacts with one of two
cannabinoid receptors (CB2), blocking chemical signals that lead to inflammation, without triggering cannabis mood-altering effects.
Dada Dham, a socio-spiritual organization brought together a team of botanists, ayurvedic scholars and environmental enthusiasts to study the environmental benefits of tulsi. "Tulsi gives out oxygen for
20 hours and ozone for four hours a day along with the formation of nascent oxygen which absorbs harmful gases like carbon monoxide,
carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide from the environment," said Shyamkant Padoley, an eminent botanist. Padoley, member of
technical committee, ministry of environment and forest, NewDelhi, and forest tech committee, also read a paper at the International Conference on Occupational Respiratory Diseases at
Kyoto in 1997 where cyclo oxygenate, an enzyme only found in tulsi was labelled for the first time. This enzyme regulates the entire mechanism of oxygen evolution.
There are many Varieties of basil as: Sweet basil - used in Italian food
Lemon basil -Lemon basil has a strong lemony smell and flavour, contains a chemical called citral
Holy basil - tulsi , a revered home-grown plant in India and Nepal
African Blue - African blue basil has a strong camphor smell because it has camphor and camphene Camphor basil, African basil
Hoary basil (Ocimum americanum)
Holy -Thai basil
Pinyin - Chinese basil
Lettuce leaf basil`(Ocimum basilicum 'Crispum')
Purple basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Queen of Siam basil (Ocimum basilicum citriodorum)
ubin basil (Ocimum basilicum 'Rubin')
Basil plant Cultivation and Care whether grown indoors in pots or as an outdoor garden plant, involves the same attention and maintenance. Following are a few basic things that a basil plant would need in order to thrive.
*Plant : While getting a basil plant from the nursery, make sure you get one that is standing straight and has a few slender branches
that have sprouted from all sides. The leaves should be green and bright. Make sure the plant is not diseased or the leaves are not yellow or brown.
*Soil: Basil plants thrive in a light soil. So while getting a pot or a place ready to plant them, ensure that the soil is part sandy,
well composted and well drained. Too much compost will damage the plant and lead to root rotting. As it is a tropical plant, it needs
to be protected from cold winds and frost. They do well in both full as well as partial sun. Basil plants can tolerate soil pH in a range that is between 6 to 8 on the soil acidity - alkalinity scale.
*Water: Basil does not like excess watering. Too much water causes its stems to rot and leaves to wilt away. In warmer climates, a daily sprinkling can be done and the plant can be given a wash in
the evenings. This will cool off the warmth around the plant. In colder climates, water the plant as per requirement only. Heavily mulch around, so that adequate moisture will get retained which is beneficial for plant growth
*Fertilizer: Basil needs minimal fertilizing, too much will burn the plant out. Never fertilize in extremely hot or cold seasons and when
the plant is in its dormant stage. Too much of artificial and fast realizing fertilizer will hasten plant growth, which in the long run will damage the plant. Use organic fertilizer or liquid fertilizer.
*Pests: Basil gets inflicted with pest primarily for two reasons: too much water and not enough enough sunlight. Too much dampness in the soil
results in fungal diseases such as "pythium wilt" and "fusarium wilt" When one notices such infliction in the plants, immediately control watering, air out the plant and cut out the diseased stems and leaves. One can dust anti fungal powder
or spray the plant with a pesticide solution. Other basil plant pests include aphids, mealybugs and spider mites. They can be cleared out by using appropriate anti fungal or anti bacterial solutions .
Tulsi or basil has eugenol that helps fight cancer. Now the research team of researchers led by an Indian-origin scientist in US lab is genetically modifying tulsi in the lab to produce the anti-cancerous compound in abundance.
Scientists at the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)
have developed a tulsi-based herbal medicine for treating people exposed to radiations. The medicine is already in the second phase of trials. According to scientists, tulsi has anti-oxidant
properties and can repair cells damaged by exposure to radiation.
"Tulsi-based medicine is already in second phase of clinical trials. It has to undergo some more trials before it is finalised and goes for commercial production. Animal trials have
also been conducted and their results were quite encouraging," DRDO`s Chief Controller (Research and Development) W. Selvamurthy
told IANS. Selvamurthy was speaking at the 99th edition of the Indian Science Congress held in Bhubaneshwar in January 7, 2011.
Experiments in animals found extracts of holy basil to be protective against radiation-induced DNA damage, probably by antioxidant
mechanisms. Protective effects were demonstrated against induced gastric cancer with concomitant introgastric administration of holy basil extract and against induced skin-tumorigenesis with application of the extract.
Researchers are now finding that Tulsi is a rich source of antioxidants that helps prevent the negative effects of oxidative
stress in the body. One of its components, carnosol, has shown promising results in liver, stomach and prostate cancer as well as
leukaemia; it is believed to reduce the size of the blood vessels that supply the tumour and this slows down its growth.
Basil (Tulsi) suffers from several plant pathogens as Fusarium wilt. It is a soil-borne fungal disease that will quickly kill younger basil plants. A common foliar disease of basil is gray mold
caused by "Botrytis cinerea", it can also cause infections post-harvest and is capable of killing the entire plant. Black spot can also be seen on basil foliage and is caused by the fungi genus.
Recently, downy mildew of basil caused by "Peronospora belbahrii" has been a huge problem for both commercial producers and home growers.
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3 J. Janick (ed.), James E. Simon, Mario R. Morales, Winthrop B. Phippen, Roberto Fontes Vieira, and Zhigang Hao, "Basil: A Source of Aroma Compounds and a Popular Culinary and Ornamental Herb"
4. Duke, James A.. "Basil as the Holy Hindu Highness"
5. Dube, S.. "Antifungal, physicochemical, and insect-repelling activity of the essential oil of Ocimum basilicum
6. Hakkim FL, Shankar CG, Girija S.Chemical composition and antioxidant property of holy basil ( Ocimum sanctum L.) leaves, stems, and inflorescence and their in vitro callus cultures. J Agric Food Chem
7. Gupta P, Yadav DK, Siripurapu KB, Palit G, Maurya R. Constituents of Ocimum sanctum with antistress activity
8. Singh S, Majumdar DK. Evaluation of the gastric antiulcer activity of fixed oil of Ocimum sanctum (Holy Basil)
9. Warrier, P K (1995). Indian Medicinal Plants, .Orient Longman.
10 Prakash, P.; Gupta, N. (April 2005).
"Therapeutic uses of Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulasi) with a note on eugenol and its pharmacological actions: A short review"
11. Uma Devi P. Radioprotective, anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties of the Indian holy basil, Ocimum sanctum (Tulasi). Indian J Exp Biol. 2001
12. Sen P, Maiti PC, Puri S, Ray A, Audulov NA, Valdman AV.
Mechanism of antistress activity of Ocimum sanctum Linn, eugenol and Tinospora malabarica in experimental animals. Indian J Exp Biol. 1992
Preserving Basil fresh flavor You can save fresh basil by storing the leaves in salt, a traditional method of preserving foods across the world.
Beauty Ingredients using holy basil The beauty industry in Thailand has grown 44% since 2008 to reach an
estimated US $ 3.6 billion, according to a report by Mintel. The traditional Asian holy basil is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in Western beauty products. While India remains the number one country for beauty and personal care products
containing holy basil (accounting for 38% of NPD globally in 2011), the UK has one of the highest demands for this ingredient. Globally, in 2011 the UK sat in
third place accounting for 14% of global new product development containing holy basil. Also in Europe, France is one of the biggest
marketplaces for new products with holy basil in the beauty and personal care sector. While its usage was limited back in 2008 (3%), today, France accounts for some 5% of global NPD using the ingredient. In
terms of products where holy basil are found—within the global market a third (33%) of products containing holy basil are for face and neck care, but it is also a popular ingredient in body care and soap bars, with a 14%
share respectively. Meanwhile, as many as 9% of new products with the ingredient are found in the hair treatment sector.
Worship the holy Basil tree in Puri
Lakhs of devotees thronged Puri, the pilgrim city here to observe a
month- long Kartik Brata which began from Monday. The devotees mostly old and widows took bath early in the morning and visited the Jagannath
temple to witness Mangala Arati. Every year, the devotees congregate here for observing the rituals in large number.
Vrindaai Tulasi devyai priyasai kesavasya cha
Vishn u bhaktiprade devi satyavatyai namo namaha
| Medicinal Plants and Herbs for health