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Maimes Report on Holy Basil

  • SALAM Research


This report was written to advance understanding of the uses and benefits of the herb holy basil (Ocimum sanctum). This version was written in 2004 and updated information is found in the book: ADAPTOGENS.
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
Ocimum sanctum Tulsi
Version 1 November 2004
This report was written by Steven Maimes SALAM Research (Rochester, New Hampshire) to advance
understanding of the uses and benefits of the herb HOLY BASIL (Ocimum sanctum). It is a work in progress
and will be periodically revised. Please note the disclaimer and fair use notice at the end of the report.
Throughout this report we will refer to the herb Ocimum sanctum as holy basil (or HB) and if the source was
from India we may call it Tulsi. Holy basil is not to be confused with sweet culinary basil (Ocimum basilicum).
Familiar name: Holy Basil, Sacred Basil
Latin: Ocimum sanctum (“sacred fragrant lipped basil”). More recently this species has become known by
the name Ocimum tenuiflorum (“basil with small flowers”) or Ocumum gratissimum (“very grateful basil”).
Botanical Family: Lamiaceae (mint)
Hindi: Tulsi
Sanskrit: Tulasi
Ocimum sanctum is one of roughly 60 species of the genus Ocimum, the basil genus, which consists of
aromatic herbs and shrubs indigenous to the tropical regions of Asia, and the Americas. Ocimum sanctum is
little known in the Western world but wildly cultivated in India.
At least three types of Tulsi are encountered with in cultivation; the green leafed (Sri or Rama Tulsi) is the
most common; the second type (Krishna Tulsi) bears dark green-to-purple leaves; a third type is a forest
variety (Vana Tulsi) that often grows wild. [See photos at end of report]
Holy basil has for thousands of years been revered and used in Ayurvedic systems of medicine and is a well-
known sacred plant of the Indian subcontinent. Holy basil has largely been overlooked in the West, despite
being one of the most esteemed botanicals in Ayurvedic medicine.
Ayurveda is a system of healing that has its roots in ancient India. Ayur means “life” and Veda “knowledge.”
The knowledge contained in Ayurveda deals with the nature and purpose of life and includes health and disease.
Medicinal, religious and culinary use of holy basil has been documented for centuries in Asia, China, the
Middle East, North Africa and Australia. After the herb was introduced in Europe from the Orient it became
known to Christians as sacred or holy basil.
Additional text on Tulsi’s History and Mythology in India can be found later in this report.
- Leading phytochemical compounds in holy basil leaf include eugenol (volatile oil), ursolic acid (triterpenoid)
and rosmarinic acid (phenylpropanoid). Other active compounds include caryophyllene and oleanolic acid.
Seeds contain fixed oils having linoleic acid and linolenic acid.
- Nutritional components include vitamins A and C; minerals calcium, iron and zinc; as well as chlorophyll.
- Holy basil contains no caffeine or other stimulants.
- Note that there can be many chemo-types of the various members of the Ocimum family. Also chemical
compositions change throughout the seasons and are affected by different soil, growing, harvesting,
processing and storage conditions.
Holy basil is highly aromatic and different varieties may smell and taste of peppermint, cloves, licorice or
lemon. The clove-like odor comes from its high eugenol content. The plant grows abundantly in India,
Malaysia, Australia, Central and South America and western Asia. It also grows in Puerto Rico.
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
For thousands of years, Ayurvedic physicians, practitioners and laypeople have observed the effects of using
holy basil. Some of them documented their actions and reported on the efficacy and safety of the herb. Many
of these writings can be found in India (written in Hindi). There is also an oral tradition of knowledge.
It is our belief that the long standing approach of Ayurveda cannot be superseded by modern methods. The
results of relatively short-term animal studies, in vitro studies, and small human clinical studies are both
variable and limited in their applications. As individuals and conditions are never completely alike, the effect of
herbs will not be exactly the same from application to application even with double blind, placebo-controlled
studies in spite of their increased reproducibility and validity. Furthermore, the experienced physician or
practitioner‟s own perceptions about the effectiveness of a treatment cannot be simply displaced by out-of-
context research.
Humans are physically, mentally and emotionally very complex. The observations made by practitioners over
prolonged periods of time may provide more accurate overall assessment of the effect of holy basil than short-
term clinical studies and experiments.
Most of the modern research on holy basil has been on animals. These animal studies have tended to
corroborate and confirm the related claims in Ayurvedic literature. This research has confirmed dozens of holy
basil‟s traditionally known actions and therapeutic uses including its remarkable adaptogenic and anti-stress
activities, as well as its powerful support for the immune system. Modern clinical studies are also in agreement
with claims from Ayurvedic literature. Clinical studies were undertaken in cases of bronchial asthma, viral
encephalitis, stress-related arterial hypertension, compounded states of the humoral and cellular immune
system, gastric ulcers, arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Science and Statistics
There seems to be many reasons why little significant scientific research is being done on herbs. There are
certainly economic concerns. We know that herbs are inexpensive (especially when compared to the retail
price of pharmaceuticals) and that pharmaceutical companies would not profit from the cost of expensive
herbal studies. Also, even if science comes up with statistics and models there are too many variables.
Within science it is possible to demonstrate statistically effects (good or bad) that are of no widespread
relevance. The statistically significance of a “finding” merely provides an estimate of the likelihood or
probability that the “effect” identified was not just a random accidental occurrence, and might actually be due
to the variables and conditions of interest (or some other unidentified cause).
Science and Belief
In science nothing is ever really proven in any absolute sense. Scientific “facts” are always in a state of flux
and exist only in the relative conceptual world. All scientific research can do is provide support
(“corroboration”) for or against specific hypotheses (guesses).
Beyond science we have belief that there is an absolute relevance to life and our existence and that there is
interconnectedness between all living things. This belief can apply to the herbs that we take. We take holy
basil to increase health and prevent and treat disease. The belief that the herb will help can contribute to its
efficacy. [This topic will be expanded in future versions of this report.]
Within Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, there is a long history of using tonic remedies to restore health.
Indian physicians practicing Ayurveda recognized the contribution of rejuvenating herbs 5000 years ago. In
ancient China, tonic herbs were referred to as “superior” or “imperial” herbs and were used daily by the wisest
and wealthiest people. The main function of a tonic is to maintain wellness with an emphasis on staying well
more than getting cured.
Adaptogenic herbs are considered phytomedicines or natural product remedies based on plants. They can
be considered a sub-category of herbal tonics because they rejuvenate the body and increase vital energy.
The Russians introduced the term “adaptogen” in the 1960s simply to distinguish the tonic action of Siberian
ginseng from other herbs. An adaptogen has the ability to increase the body‟s resistance to stress by
stimulating a non-specific, self-regulation response in adapting to stress. Adaptogens also produce an
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
increase in the power of resistance against multiple (physical, chemical or environmental) stressors. Simply,
adaptogens help the body adapt to stress, support normal functions and restore balance.
Today, herbalists are beginning to classify holy basil as a primary adaptogen and are finding that HB
modulates the “stress response” and increases adaptive energy.
NOTE: References and sources exist for most of the following information. For most readers, these references are not
important. This draft document will not provide individual references. Some sources will be included in the Reference
section. Inquire if you need specific references. We also have noted conclusions of studies without providing details.
Notations beginning with “AYURVEDA” = remedies from the Ayurvedic (or folk) tradition.
"HEALTH is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely absence of
disease or infirmity." (The World Health Organization)
It’s Uses and Benefits Relating to the Various Human Body Systems
Based on observations made by practitioners and modern scientific research
Note: We tried to place actions into the correct body systems. Since many actions overlap, only the primary
system was selected.
Cardio-tonic prevents heart attacks
Lowers stress-related high blood pressure; normalizes blood pressure
Vascular protection protects the heart and blood vessels, promotes even circulation
Mild blood thinning qualities, thereby decreasing the likelihood of strokes
Lowers dangerous cholesterol
Protects against damage caused by foreign toxins in the blood (such as industrial chemicals)
Treatment of stress-related arterial hypertension (high blood pressure)
AYURVEDA: Tulsi is an excellent heart tonic and can be combined with the colder Arjuna and slightly
warm Hawthorne to make a tridoshic remedy that builds and purifies the heart.
AYURVEDA: The drinking of Tulsi-leaf tea keeps the blood pressure even. Tulsi tea also provides
warming benefits for the heart.
DIGESTIVE SYSTEM (esophagus, stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas)
Liver support generally contributes to healthy liver function, and counteracts various liver diseases
Liver protective improves the metabolic breakdown and elimination of dangerous chemicals in the
blood; included as part of a detoxification program
Anti-diabetic insulin and glucose normalizing; blood-sugar and blood-lipid normalizing
Hypoglycemic (low blood glucose)
Balances blood sugar and insulin metabolism; can reduce fasting blood glucose
Inhibits lipid peroxidation (the oxidative deterioration of lipids); normalizes lipids
Anti-ulcer activity found to possess potent anti-ulcerogenic as well as ulcer-healing properties and
could act as a potent therapeutic agent against peptic ulcer disease; decreases incidence of gastric
Reduces the effect of irritating drugs on the stomach lining and increases the production of protective
stomach mucous.
Improves the digestive system such as indigestion, heartburn, bloating, vomiting, intestinal gas,
diarrhea, dysentery, intestinal worms and induces appetite.
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
Enhances the efficient digestion, absorption and use of nutrients from food and other herbs.
Improves the digestive fire (agni)
Helps in the elimination of toxins
Diminishes "bad breath"
Antimicrobial effects inhibits the growth of E. coli
AYURVEDA: Tulsi is a remover of worms and parasites, when the fresh juice or strong tea is taken
with honey; the sweetness excites the parasites drawing them out of their hiding places.
AYURVEDA: Taking Tulsi, as a tea, with dried ginger is a common treatment for indigestion.
AYURVEDA: Tulsi seeds soaked in water make a type of kheer or pudding that is useful in dysentery.
AYURVEDA: Tulsi is one of the rare „digestives‟ that stimulates and nourishes the agni at all the
ENDOCRINE SYSTEM (pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, thymus, pineal, pancreas, ovaries, and
Adaptogenic actions:
Stress resilience increases the capacity to cope and adapt to changing and challenging
environments, and reduces the negative physical and psychological effects of stress; anti-stress
Energy and performance improves stamina and endurance; reduces fatigue; enhances motor activity
and physical performance; increases the body's efficiency in using oxygen; enhances protein
synthesis and strength
Improve endurance and resistances when tested against a battery of stress-induced conditions
indicating non-specific mode of actions
Enhances the body‟s natural bipolar adaptogenic homeostatic balancing capacity and helps return
stressed physiological systems to normal
Supports normal cortisol (hydrocortisone); supports the stress response assisting in the normalization
of cortisol; balances and regulates cortisol levels
Lowers the stress-induced release of adrenal hormones
Long-term subtle effect on the physiological functions of the body; can normalize the altered
physiological functions of illness over time.
Anti-aging effect by increasing adaptive effects
AYURVEDA: Increases Ojas (essence that supports the body) and is adaptogenic.
Other actions:
Results with chronic fatigue syndrome
Calms the mind improves both cellular and humoral immunity
IMMUNE SYSTEM (inflammatory response, white blood cells, lymph glands)
Strengthens and modulates the immune system immunomodulatory effects
Improves immune response enhances humoral (body fluids) and cellular immunity
Increased cell-mediated immunity both in the number of immune defense cells and also in their
activity; increases T-cell activity
Anti-inflammatory action reduces the painful and dangerous inflammation that plays a key role in
various forms of arthritis, cancer and degenerative neurological disorders (COX-2 inhibition)
Anti-inflammatory similar to aspirin and ibuprofen, but unlike aspirin and ibuprofen it is not irritating to
the stomach. Modulates inflammation (COX-2 inhibition)
Immunostimulant properties inhibits antigen-induced (allergic) histamine
Reduces asthmatic and other adverse immune reactions
Used in the treatment of colds and flu
Antiviral properties success with viral hepatitis, viral encephalitis and AIDS-virus
Contains eugenol known to be anti-viral and one of the best herbal antibiotics
Antioxidant reduced oxidative stress
Anti-allergic management of immunological disorders including allergies and asthma
Antibiotic protection offers significant natural antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties thereby
helpful in treating many serious systemic diseases, as well as localized infections
Anti-aging supports the body and mind in reducing the negative effects of aging
Relieves canker sores and useful in pyorrhea (gum infection)
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
Benefits skin reduces eczema, psoriasis and various other skin disorders
Helps difficult skin diseases like leprosy and staph infection of the skin
Antiseptic agent for wounds
Antibiotic protection
Essential oil has antifungal and antibacterial activity
Contains ursolic acid one of the cosmetic industry‟s latest favorites because not only does it quickly
heal skin, returns elasticity and removes wrinkles, but it is so good at preventing and curing skin
AYURVEDA: Tulsi applied topically as a paste with black pepper is used to treat ringworm and
AYURVEDA: A paste of the leaves applied externally is useful to reduce the irritation of insect bites
and parasitical diseases of the skin; also applied to the finger and toe nails during fever when the
limbs are cold.
MUSCULAR SYSTEM (skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscles)
Anti-arthritic activity
Anabolic activity enhances protein synthesis, muscle mass and strength
A remedy for sore eyes and night-blindness (vitamin A)
AYURVEDA: To treat conjunctivitis the juice of Tulsi mixed with honey is used as an eye wash to
either wash the eyes or spread on the tender skin below the eye.
NERVOUS SYSTEM (brain, spinal cord, nerves)
Anti-convulsions potential
Central nervous system effect increased motor activity
Analgesic activity
Normalizes neurotransmitter levels in the brain
Influences the neurochemistry of the brain in a manner similar to antidepressant medications
Nerve tonic; sharpens memory
Antipyretic prevents, removes or reduces fevers
Treatment for viral encephalitis, malaria and typhoid; The Imperial Malarial Conference has declared
Tulsi to be a genuine remedy for malaria.
Drug and nicotine withdrawal
AYURVEDA: Tulsi oil is also used as ear drops in case of pain. Add fresh garlic juice after you cook
Tulsi in mustard oil and then place this warm medicated oil in the ears to remove ear aches.
AYURVEDA: The fresh juice of Tulsi taken with black pepper powder cures periodic fevers. In case of
acute fevers, a decoction of the leaves boiled with powdered cardamom in half a liter of water and
mixed with sugar and milk brings down the temperature.
Anti-fertility effect may reduce the estrogen hormone levels in females and decrease the sperm
count in men
AYURVEDA: Aphrodisiac powdered Tulsi root with clarified butter (ghee)
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM (respiration, nose, trachea, lungs)
Contributes generally to respiratory health supports healthy pulmonary function; provides lung and
bronchial support
Helpful in the treatment of a variety of serious allergic, inflammatory and infectious disorders affecting
the lungs and related tissues
Used to strengthen the respiratory system one of the main herbs for coughs and colds
Used for bronchial asthma; expectorant and bronchodilator effects
Used against respiratory ailments including bronchititis and tuberculosis
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
Anti-catarrh (inflammation of mucus membranes) and anti-phlegm (mucus)
Used for rhinitis (inflammation of nasal mucus membrane)
AYURVEDA: Can serve as a cure and a prophylactic as well for the severe acute respiratory
syndrome (SARS) - The root of the tulsi plant should be crushed and boiled with turmeric powder for a
few minutes, after which it should be filtered. Consuming two spoonfuls of this potion twice daily will
cure SARS and prevent contracting of the disease.
AYURVEDA: Tulsi tea with honey is a good expectorant especially in cases where fever is involved.
AYURVEDA: The juice of the leaves is given in catarrh and bronchitis in children.
AYURVEDA: Chewing the leaves relieves cold and flu. A decoction of the leaves, cloves and common
salt also gives immediate relief in case of influenza.
Seeds are used in curing urinary problems.
Seeds are used as diuretics and for facilitating urination.
Strengthening effect on the kidney.
AYURVEDA: In case of kidney stone the juice of basil leaves and honey, if taken regularly for 6
months it will expel them via the urinary tract.
PSYCHO-SPIRITUAL mind-body connection
Aids meditation and delivers nutrients to the mind necessary for the experience of enlightenment.
Opens the heart and mind
Elevates mood and spirit
When used in the prevention and cure of illness and disease “ritual” becomes a spiritual component
of its efficacy. Perhaps its role as a healing herb was instrumental in its "sacred" implication.
Spiritually endowed and empowered to transform souls
AYURVEDA: Ayurvedic physician and author Dr. Vasant Lad says that Tulsi affects the “energy field.”
AYURVEDA: Tulsi performs the indispensable spiritual function of balancing and toning the energetic
chakra system. Specifically, it has an affinity with the second chakra (third eye).
AYURVEDA: “Its quality is pure sattva… Basil opens the heart and the mind, bestowing the energy of
love and devotion (bhakti). Sacred to Vishnu and Krishna, it strengthens faith, compassion and clarity.
Basil gives the protection of the divine by clearing the aura and strengthening the immune system.”
(“The Yoga of Herbs” by Frawley & Lad)
AYURVEDA: Tulsi tea with honey promotes clarity of mind
AYURVEDA: Wearing a Tulsi mala, a necklace of 108 beads carved from Tulsi‟s woody stems and
worn around the neck or wrist, is a common way to benefit from the power of her presence which
includes psychic protection and spiritual nourishment. In the Padmapurana Lord Shiva tells the sage
Narada about this power: “Oh Narada, wherever Tulsi grows there is no misery. She is the holiest of
the holy. Wherever the breeze blows her fragrance there is purity. Vishnu showers blessing on those
who worship and grow Tulsi. Tulsi is sacred because Brahma resides in the roots, Vishnu resides in
the stems and leaves and Rudra resides in the flowering tops.”
INDIA: In India, many families keep a Tulsi plant in their homes, where it is held to create an
atmosphere of peace and prosperity. It has long been used for its purifying influence.
Stress may be the number one cause of illness and disease. The American Institute of Stress reports as many
as 75% to 90% of visits to healthcare professionals are related in some way to the adverse effects of stress. In
survey after survey, Americans identify stress as their number one health concern today and more than 50%
of adults in the U.S. report high stress on a daily basis. Adapting to stress is a natural mechanism for human
survival. But the stress of modern living has increased levels of stress adaptation. Too much stress can
seriously affect performance, health, and well-being.
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
Holy basil has been used successfully in the prevention and treatment of many stress disorders see chart.
Holy Basil’s Role in the Prevention and Treatment of Stress Disorders
Stress Disorder
Prevention & Treatment
Disturbed central nervous system (CNS)
psychosis, depression, hypertension, schizophrenia
Calms the central nervous system
Reduced immunity chronic and viral infections
Improves cellular and humoral (fluids) immunity
Muscular fatigue
Anti-fatigue (improves stamina)
Increased adrenaline increased blood pressure
and heart rate
Reduces blood pressure and heart rate
Increased intestinal motility (movement by independent
means) emotional diarrhea, irritable bowel
Decreases intestinal mobility
Increased coagulation (thrombosis - blood clots)
Anti-coagulant and Anti-thrombotic
Increased free radicals (cell damage); results in
heart attacks (arteriosclerosis hardening of the
arteries), diabetes, cataracts and other diseases
Antioxidant (reduces cell damage)
Bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections
(biological stressors) such as pneumonia, colds,
Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral
Radiation, cancer, leukemia (physical stressors)
Anti-radiation and anti-cancer
Adapted from Tulsi by Dr. Narendra Singh (2002)
Anti-cancer reduces tumors
Useful in cancer protocols
Ursolic and oleanolic acids have anti-tumor activity
Anti-oxidative protects healthy cells from radiation damage [anti-cancer]
Protective effect against chemical carcinogens
Radioprotective properties ability to protect the DNA of the body from the dangerous, mutating
power of various forms of radiation.
Reduces the cell and tissue damage caused by harmful rays of the sun, TV, computers, X-rays,
radiation therapy, high altitude air travel, etc. Protection against radiation-induced chromosome
damage; enhancement of bone marrow radioprotection
Protects against chemotherapy-induced damage
Protects the heart from damage caused by a widely used chemotherapy drug, Adriamycin
(doxorubicin) protects components of heart and liver cells from oxidative damage caused by free
radicals generated by the chemotherapy.
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
Holistic health promotion enhances general health and well-being, having positive overall effects on
the body and mind.
Allopathic medicine complement enhances the effectiveness and reduces the negative and often
dangerous side effects of many standard modern medical treatments.
Anti-aging effects helps retain youthful vigor, and slows the biological aging process by reducing the
impact of physiological aging factors.
Provides significant antioxidant and free radical scavenging protection. Neutralizes dangerous
biochemicals that contribute to premature aging, cancer, and degenerative diseases.
Enhances the efficient digestion, absorption and use of nutrients from food and other herbs.
Tulsi has been recognized for thousands of years to be one of India‟s greatest healing herbs. Tulsi in Sanskrit
means “one that is incomparable” – one that does not tolerate or permit similarity.
What other herb claims to have benefits for hundreds of conditions with thousands of years of empirical
experience and use? Tulsi is incomparable and as such must be taken seriously. The knowledge of holy basil
needs to spread for the benefit of all humanity.
Dosing of herbal preparations is highly dependent on a variety of factors such as growing and harvesting
conditions, plant parts and extraction methods used. The dosage form chosen by manufacturers and the
different chemical markers used is also variable. Therefore ranges must be employed as guidelines.
Dried Leaves
Holy Basil is generally effective in a single dose of 300mg to 600mg of dried leaves daily for preventive
therapy, and 600mg to 1800mg in divided doses daily for curative therapy.
Dr. Narendra Singh recommends a dose of 2 grams of the freshly dried herb twice daily for several
Tulsi (or Holy Basil) Tea
Holy basil can also be taken as tea (usually around 2 grams a cup). A cup of Tulsi tea simply from an
infused tea bag is an excellent prophylactic and a good direct medicine for many mild therapies.
Other dosage information
Classically, a typical dose is 10-20 ml of the fresh leaf juice.
Herbal decoction and dose in most cases; an ounce of dried herb in 16 ounces of water and gently
simmered for 30 minutes, then taken three times a day in 5 ounce quantities.
A child‟s dose is usually a quarter to half that of an adult dose.
Supercritical extracts and other extracts as directed.
Dr. Narendra Singh in his book on Tulsi reports that after three decades of clinical research that the
adaptogenic/antistress activity of holy basil (including an increase in stamina and immunological
resistance) is likely to take one week to one month to develop and gives appreciable improvements in
health lasting for a month of more after discontinuation. For preventive measures, taking HB for at
least a month is recommended.
Higher doses (400 milligram/kilogram) of are speculated to increase central nervous system (CNS)
activity and/or reduce stress. Doses less than 200 milligram/kilogram are thought to decrease CNS
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
Safety and contraindications
Holy basil has a long history of safe traditional use in India. There is no indication of safety concerns
about HB in the literature and no human drug interaction data is currently available.
Holy basil is generally a very safe healing herb. It is advised to become familiar with manufacturers
and their products before assuming that the product is safe and effective.
Holy basil is available as a dietary supplement in the United States under the Dietary Supplement
Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).
Holy basil is synergistic with other herbs.
UK HB is on the general sales list
Canada approved as an over-the-counter drug
France considered Traditional Medicine
Germany not yet Commission E approved.
Holy basil is not recommended for therapeutic use during pregnancy and lactation and should not be
given therapeutically to infants or toddlers. Studies from the 1970‟s suggested that holy basil might
have a mild anti-fertility effect in animals. Although this has not been shown to occur in people, if you
are pregnant or trying to be, do not take medicinal doses of holy basil.
It has been reported that holy basil may decrease blood sugar this may be a concern for people who
are hypoglycemic (low level of sugar in the blood)
HB has mild blood thinning qualities
[Ayurvedic practitioners claim that Ayurvedic herbs are less toxic due to their slow bioavailability.]
Regarding basil most likely sweet culinary basil (Ocimum basilicum), it has been said:
- Basil should be used cautiously by persons with diabetes.
- Basil may increase the hypoglycemic effects of insulin and/or oral antidiabetics; do not use
Differentiating between Rama, Krishna and Vana Tulsi
When using Tulsi one of the first questions people have is, „Which Tulsi should I use?‟ Rama Tulsi, meaning
white, and Krishna Tulsi, or black, are both varieties of Ocimum sanctum. Rama Tulsi is actually very green
while Krishna Tulsi is deep magenta, often bordering on purple. Though Krishna is used more for its clearing
action, as in clearing toxins out of the head, and Rama is used more for its dipana actions, to increase the
digestive fire, for the most part the two varieties can be used interchangeably. The chemotypes of the two
varieties can vary greatly depending on when and where they grow. Often Tulsi is blended evenly between
Rama, Krishna and Vana varieties or perhaps a 2:2:1 blend [Prashanti de Jager].
Tulsi and children
Like adults, children also love Tulsi tea. Tulsi, being a relatively gentle herb, is frequently used in cases of
pediatric fever, cough, asthma and abdominal disorders, or as an enjoyable prophylaxis.
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
Tulsi is known as “the incomparable one”, “the mother medicine of nature”, “the elixir or life”, and
“the queen of herbs”
“The Tulsi is the most sacred plant in India. No plant in the world commands such...universal respect,
adoration and worship from the people as does Tulsi. It is the plant par excellence.” [Indian Botanical Folklore]
“A house with a Tulsi plant in front of it is a place of pilgrimage... The wind that carries the aroma of Tulsi
spreads purity wherever it blows.”
In India, many traditional Hindus grow Tulsi and have at least one living Tulsi plant. They use its leaves in
routine worship; they feel protected by its sacred aura; and they use rosary beads for meditation made from its
cut stems.
Tulsi is used by Ayurvedic practitioners and laypersons for many health ailments and it has both medicinal and
spiritual significance in Ayurveda. Tulsi is also used as a valued culinary herb closely related to the sweet basil
plant widely available in the West.
The Tulsi plant has ties with the Hindu god Vishnu (the preserver) and his worship. Tulsi is acclaimed in India
as possessing sattva (energy of purity) and as being capable of bringing on goodness, virtue and joy in
humans. In the Puranas (sacred Hindu text), everything associated with the Tulsi plant is holy, including water
given to it and soil in which it grows, as well as all its parts, among them leaves, flowers, seed, and roots.
There are many legends from India regarding the Tulsi plant.
Tulsi is classified as a “rasayana,” an herb that nourishes a person‟s growth to perfect health and promotes
long-life. For perhaps 5000 years, Tulsi has been considered truly legendary of India‟s healing herbs. From
general well-being to acute critical imbalances, Tulsi‟s magnanimous healing nature is used and honored daily
by millions.
Tulsi has a long history of medicinal use, and is mentioned in the oldest ancient Sanskrit Ayurvedic text
Charak Samhita (written perhaps 600 BC and compiled approximately 400 CE). Tulsi is also mentioned in the
Rigveda (Book of Eternal Knowledge), thought to have been written around 5000 BC.
Tulsi in Sanskrit means “one that is incomparable” – one that does not tolerate or permit similarity. It is
pronounced in English as “tool-see.”
Positive judgments by Indian enthusiasts on the health and therapeutic merits of Tulsi are as pronounced as
Chinese and East Asian convictions about the merits of ginseng.
AYURVEDA: Tulsi was recognized thousands of years ago by the ancient rishis to be one of India‟s greatest
healing herbs. They saw that this herb is so good for health and healing that they declared that it was God
herself. Where most herbs are used for two or three diseases, Tulsi is recommended for hundreds of serious
disorders and is actually highly recommended as a daily prophylactic to prevent disease. They established
Tulsi as one of the eight indispensable items an any Vedic worship ritual to ensure that every house and
temple had at least one Tulsi bush in its proximity, thus allowing everybody easy access to her outstanding
healing power. Still today Tulsi, which can be found planted around most homes in India, is the most
respected and honored herb there due to its continuing importance in healing, religion, spirituality, culture, and
in decorative aesthetics. It is so readily found, now even in the West, that one of its names is Sulabha, „the
easily obtainable one.‟ [Prashanti de Jager]
INDIA: Holy basil has also been used in the traditional systems of medicine of Siddha (based largely on
Ayurveda) and Unani (founded by Hakim Ibn Sina).
AYURVEDA: Destroyer of kapha (phlegm) and pitta (bile); Regulator of three doshas. Tulsi is used in over 300
Ayurvedic medicines
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
We recommend the organic holy basil products manufactured by New Chapter (Vermont). They include:
New Chapter: Supercritical Holy Basil
- Ocimum sanctum, (leaf), supercritical extract (min. 7% eugenol - 6.6 mg and min, 4% caryophllene - 3.8
mg) 94 mg. Ocimum sanctum, (leaf), hydroethanolic extract (minimum 1% triterpenoic acids - 5.4 mg
including ursolic acid oleanolic acids, and minimum 1% rosmarinic acid - 5.4 mg) 536 mg.
New Chapter: Holy Basil
- Holy Basil (ocimum sanctum leaf; minimum 2% ursolic acid) - 800 mg
New Chapter: Zyflamend (compound formula)
- Contains 100 mg of Holy Basil extract; also contains Rosemary, Turmeric, Ginger, Green Tea
Other recommended products include:
Om Organics (Colorado): Organic Tulsi Tea (bulk and tea bags)
Planetary Formulas (California): Holy Basil Extract (5:1; yielding 9 mg ursolic acid) - 450 mg
MediHerb (Australia): Andrographis Complex formula containing Echinacea, Holy Basil and Andrographis;
Holy Basil leaf 4:1 extract (from Ocimum teniflorum leaf 500 mg) 125 mg.
Metagenics (California): Exhilarin formula containing Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, and Bacopa with Supportive
Herbs; Holy Basil Leaf Extract (Ocimum sanctum) - 250 mg
Note: We are not affiliated with any of these companies and only recommend these products based upon personal
experience and company reputation. There are certainly other reputable products not listed.
Some of the information in this report came from the following sources
Tulsi: The Mother Medicine of Nature by Dr. Narendra Singh
“Tulsi Queen of Herbs: India‟s Holy Basil” by Ralph Miller and Sam Miller
“Sri Tulsi ji: The Incomparable Queen of Herbs” by Prashanti de Jager
Holy Basil: Tulsi (A Herb) by Yash Rai
Donnie Yance writings on adaptogens
Articles on Tulsi - Holy Basil:
“Tulsi Queen of Herbs: India‟s Holy Basil “
© Ralph Miller and Sam Miller [PDF format]
“Sri Tulsi ji: The Incomparable Queen of Herbs”
© by Prashanti de Jager
Web site
- Health Benefits of Holy Basil
Books on Tulsi
Tulsi: The Mother Medicine of Nature by Dr. Narendra Singh and Dr. Yamuna Hoette with Dr. Ralph
Miller. International Institute of Herbal Medicine (Lucknow, India). 2002
Holy Basil: Tulsi (A Herb) by Yash Rai. Navneet Publications India Ltd. 2002
Supplier of Holy Basil Seeds
Seeds of Change (Santa Fe, NM)
Maimes Report on Holy Basil
In accordance with federal guidelines pertaining to any ingestible products, we are required to state that the
data in this report is provided for informational purposes only, and that it is not meant to "substitute for the
advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional", nor is it intended for "the diagnosis,
treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease." We must also advise that you should "not use the information
contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication," and
that "The FDA has not evaluated any statements in this report." The information in this report has been
obtained from scientific research and sources considered reputable in the specific area of discussion.
Holy basil is not to be used if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or if you may become pregnant. One should
consult a qualified professional who knows the benefits of herbs for any personal health recommendations.
This report contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the
copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of medical,
scientific and public health issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as
provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the
material herein is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this report for
purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Copyright © 2004 by Steven Maimes, SALAM Research
Permission is granted to redistribute or quote this document for non-commercial purposes provided that you include
reference to the report.
Steven Maimes, SALAM Research
59 Franklin Street, Rochester, New Hampshire 03867
Krishna Tulsi
Rama Tulsi
Vana Tulsi
... Tulsi, a herb renowned to have life prolonging and rejuvenating properties, is native to tropical Asia where it grows wild in warm regions [1]. It has been used in Asia, Africa and the Middle East for centuries, where it is widely incorporated in cuisine, cosmetics, herbal remedies and religious ceremonies [2]. Tulsi is part of various traditional medical systems including: Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani. ...
... However, recent DNA and chemical analysis of the Vana Tulsi used in commercial teas (Pukka Herbs) shows it to belong to the haplotype characteristic of several basilicum-like Ocimum species [18]. Although the plants are characteristically different, they may all be referred to and kept as Tulsi [2]. Given the success of DNA barcoding for discrimination of Ocimum species, it could be used as an authentication tool to identify adulterants or species substitution [19]. ...
Full-text available
Tulsi (Holy basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum L., Lamiaceae), native to Asia, has become globalised as the cultural, cosmetic, and medicinal uses of the herb have been popularised. DNA barcoding, a molecular technique used to identify species based on short regions of DNA, can discriminate between different species and identify contaminants and adulterants. This study aimed to explore the values associated with Tulsi in the United Kingdom (UK) and authenticate samples using DNA barcoding. A mixed methods approach was used, incorporating social research (i.e., structured interviews) and DNA barcoding of Ocimum samples using the ITS and trnH-psbA barcode regions. Interviews revealed the cultural significance of Tulsi: including origins, knowledge exchange, religious connotations, and medicinal uses. With migration, sharing of plants and seeds has been seen as Tulsi plants are widely grown in South Asian (SA) households across the UK. Vouchered Ocimum specimens (n = 33) were obtained to create reference DNA barcodes which were not available in databases. A potential species substitution of O. gratissimum instead of O. tenuiflorum amongst SA participants was uncovered. Commercial samples (n = 47) were difficult to authenticate, potentially due to DNA degradation during manufacturing processes. This study highlights the cultural significance of Tulsi, despite a potential species substitution, the plant holds a prestigious place amongst SA families in the UK. DNA barcoding was a reliable way to authenticate Ocimum species.
... Common names-Holy basil, sacred basil *Latin-Ocimum sanctum("sacred fragrant lipped basil") but the species has recent names called as Ocimum tenuiflorum("basil with small flowers") or Ocimum gratissimum("very grateful basil"). [14] PHYTOCHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS The plant possesses highly complex chemical constituents due to the presence of many nutrients and biologically active components. However, these constituents significantly vary with time, cultivation process and storage. ...
Full-text available
Ocimum sanctum, a religious and medicinal herb, is regarded as the queen of herbs. It is herbaceous, multibranched, a 30-75cm plant belonging to Lamiaceae family and is cultivated throughout the native world tropics. The chemical constituents of the plant are very perplexing due to the presence of different nutrients and active compounds. The main chemicals present in fair amount are eugenol, carvacrol, ursolic acid, linalool, etc. Due to the presence of these chemicals, the plant shows diverse properties like antimicrobial, anticancer, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, etc.
Hexane, petroleum ether, chloroform, ethyl acetate, acetone and methanol extracts of Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) were analyzed for determination of antibacterial activity against enteric-pathogenic bacteria Escherichia coli, Shizella dysenteriae, Salmonella typhi, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Vibrio cholerae using agar well diffusion method. Only acetone extract of all of them exhibited an inhibiting effect on the development of the tested strains. By using the disc diffusion method, the chosen pathogenic bacteria were examined for their pattern of antibiotic susceptibility. A comparison of antibiotics and acetone extract was performed. It was discovered that acetone extract found to be remarkable sensitivity against the test pathogens, total 37 fractions were obtained from the fractionization of acetone extract through column chromatography and found 4 major and 13minor compounds were obtained through Thin Layer Chromatography method. Antibacterial activity of different fractions was determined by spot assay technique. The fractions 1, 7, 13, and 21 demonstrated the greatest antibacterial activity when tested against the test pathogens out of all the fractions collected. Octadecanoic acid and methyl ester were found in the fraction number 13 according to the results of the Gas Chromatography Mass Specrometry. Stearic acid methyl ester obtained from the acetone extract of Ocimum sanctum has been recommended for human trials against various bacterial infections.
Abstract Ethnopharmacological relevance The use of herbal medicines for prophylaxis, prevention, and treatment of various ailments is rising throughout the world because they are thought to be safer than allopathic treatments, which they are. However, several investigations have documented the toxicity and adverse drug reactions (ADR) of certain formulations and botanicals if not consumed wisely. Aim of the study The goal of the current study is to address herbal medication pharmacovigilance (PV) modeling and related considerations for improved patient safety. Also, focus is laid on the comprehensive and critical analysis of the current state of PV for herbal medications at the national and international levels. Materials and methods Targeted review also known as focused literature review methodology was utilized for exploring the data from various scientific platforms such as Science Direct, Wiley Online Library, Springer, PubMed, Google Scholar using “pharmacovigilance, herbal medicine, traditional medicine, ADR, under reporting, herb toxicity, herb interactions” as keywords along with standard literature pertaining to herbal medicines that is published by the WHO and other international and national organizations etc. The botanical names mentioned in the present article were authenticated using World Flora Online database. Results: The historical developments paving the way for PV in regulatory setup were also discussed, along with various criteria's for monitoring herbal medicine, ADR of herbs, phytoconstituents, and traditional medicines, herb-drug interactions, modes of reporting ADR, databases for reporting ADR's, provisions of PV in regulatory framework of different nations, challenges and way forward in PV are discussed in detail advocating a robust drug safety ecosystem for herbal medicines. Conclusion Despite recent efforts to encourage the reporting of suspected ADRs linked to herbal medicines, such as expanding the programme and adding community pharmacists as recognized reporters, the number of herbal ADR reports received by the regulatory bodies remains comparatively low. Since users often do not seek professional advice or report if they have side effects, under-reporting, is anticipated to be significant for herbal medications. There are inadequate quality control methods, poor regulatory oversight considering herbs used in food and botanicals, and unregulated distribution channels. In addition, botanical identity, traceability of herbs, ecological concerns, over-the-counter (OTC) herbal medicines, patient-physicians barriers requires special focus by the regulatory bodies for improved global safety of herbal medicines.
Full-text available
The present study was undertaken to study the immuno modulatrory effects of leaves of Ocimum santum (OS) and Argemone mexiana (AM) plants in chicken model. 250 mg/kg body weight oral dose of OS and AM was found ideal and nontoxic in chickens and experimental chickens were fed this dose. Humoral immune response to S. enterica serovar Typhimurium 'O' antigen was measured by quantitating the serum antibody level of immunized chickens by ELISA test. There was a significant rise in antibody titre of OS and AM fed chickens in comparison to control group. The antibody titre in the serum samples of HAE of OS and AM fed chickens were (5333.33±674.62) and (4266.67±674.62) respectively, whereas in control group it was 3733.33±533.33. This study indicated that the extract of both plants enhanced the antibody level and acted as a humoral immuno stimulant. Cell mediated immune response (CMI) was assayed by differential lymphocyte count (DLC) and DNCB sensitized hypersensitivity test. DLC revealed increase in lymphocyte count in OS fed group and decrease in lymphocyte count in AM fed group as compared to control group. DNCB test demonstrated 29.89% increase in skin thickness in OS fed group and 34.02% decrease in skin thickness in AM fed group as compared to control group at 24 hour interval. Present study indicated the T cell suppressive impact of hot aqueous extract of AM and stimulator effect of OS.
Sri Tulsi ji: The Incomparable Queen of Herbs" © by Prashanti de Jager Web site  Benefits of Holy Basil-http
  • Ralph Articles On Tulsi-Holy Basil
  • Sam Miller
  • Miller
Articles on Tulsi-Holy Basil:  "Tulsi Queen of Herbs: India"s Holy Basil " © Ralph Miller and Sam Miller [PDF format]  "Sri Tulsi ji: The Incomparable Queen of Herbs" © by Prashanti de Jager Web site  Benefits of Holy Basil- Books on Tulsi  Tulsi: The Mother Medicine of Nature by Dr. Narendra Singh and Dr. Yamuna Hoette with Dr. Ralph Miller. International Institute of Herbal Medicine (Lucknow, India). 2002