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Plant Family:



Habitat & Cultivation: 

“Basils are native to tropical Asia and are likely to have originated in India. It is an annual plant, usually propagated through seeds. It is widely distributed in tropical areas and can be easily found at an altitude of 1800 meters in Himalayan region. Some varieties of tulsi readily grow wild in many areas of Asia and Africa. The species differ from each other on the basis of geographical location, type and percentage of chemical constituents and therefore, possess different pharmacological properties” (Mahajan et al., 2013).


Many varieties of Tulsi can be and is often grown in home gardens. When looking for local growers, they mostly just used the term “tulsi” and didn’t identify which type they were growing. The University of Washington has an entire garden dedicated to basil, but I could not find information on which type/types they were growing there.  


Parts Used/Collection: 

Leaves. Ocimum gratissimum is known to have a strong smell of clove and has a spicy flavor. It is known as “clove basil” in Hawaii. Ocimum sanctum/tenuiflorum Ocimum tenuiflorum/sanctum is sort of peppery, and tastes like a mix between ginger and mint almost.


Herbal Actions: 

  • Adaptogen

  • Antimicrobial

  • Antibacterial

  • Antiviral

  • Antifungal

  • Antiprotozoal

  • Antimalarial

  • Anthelmintic

  • Mosquito repellent

  • Anti-diarrheal

  • Anti-oxidant

  • Anti-cataract

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Chemoprotective

  • Radioprotective

  • Hepato-protective

  • Neuro-protective

  • Cardio-protective

  • Anti-diabetic

  • Anti-hypercholesterolemia

  • Anti-hypertensive

  • Anti-carcinogenic

  • Analgesic

  • Anti-pyretic

  • Anti-allergic

  • Immunomodulatory

  • Central nervous system depressant

  • Memory enhancement

  • Anti-asthmatic

  • Anti-tussive

  • Diaphoretic

  • Anti-thyroid

  • Anti-fertility

  • Anti-ulcer

  • Anti-emetic

  • Anti-spasmodic

  • Anti-arthritis

  • Anti-stress

  • Anti-leukodermal



As an adaptogen during times of stress - can decrease cortisol levels and is neuroprotective

Diabetes - lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels

For bacterial or protozoal infections

To increase circulation, ‘cerebral stimulation; - vascular disease, mental fog, speed recovery of head trauma

To protect the liver during times of radiation exposure

GI issues - prevention of gastric ulcers

During sickness or allergen exposure - enhances antibody production and reduces effects of allergies, hay fever, etc.

Asthma - helps reduce symptoms




Skin infections






According to Pattanayak et al. (2010), animal studies have shown that Tulsi, “holy basil” has the potential to negatively affect fertility; however, no adverse reactions have been reported in human clinical trials.


Plant Constituents: 


System Affinities:



  • Pungent

  • Sweet

  • Warming

  • Mobile

  • Vata may be aggravated by tulsi, since it is heating and moving. However, tulsi is amphoteric since it is an adaptogen, so I suspect it may have different effects depending on the person.



In general there are not many studies that have been conducted to rule out the safety of tulsi (holy basil).  However, of the studies that have been conducted and the information that has been put out there does not reveal any contraindications or safety concerns with use of this herb.  Since the research on the safety of this herb is so minimal though, it is advised by some to avoid this herb during pregnancy or breastfeeding.


Personal Experience:

I prepared an infusion, it was very aromatic and I thoroughly enjoyed the taste. I was refreshed after drinking the infusion and felt rejuvenated. 



Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press: Vermont.


Mahajan, N., Rawal, S., Verma, M., Poddar, M., & Alok, S. (2013). A phytopharmacological overview on Ocimum species with special emphasis on Ocimum sanctum. Biomedicine & Preventive Nutrition, 3(2), 185-192.


Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The essential guide to herbal safety. Elsevier Health Sciences.


Romm, A. (2010). Botanical medicine for women's health (p.18-19). St. Louis, Mo: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.


Sharifi-Rad, J. (1996). Plants of the Melaleuca genus as antimicrobial agents: From farm to pharmacy. Phytotherapy research. 31(10): 1475-1494.




Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum & gratissimum)

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