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Nature has bestowed on us a very rich botanical wealth and a large number of diverse types of plants grow in different parts of the country. Plants are the richest resource of drugs in traditional systems of medicine, modern medicines, nutraceuticals, food supplements, folk medicines, pharmaceutical intermediates and chemical entities for synthetic drugs. Medicinal plants are a source of great economic value all over the world. Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi) is a well-known plant used in the Indian system of medicine. This paper reviews the therapeutic potential of this plant in treatment of various medical and oral disorders.
Bhateja Sumit et al / IJRAP 3(6), Nov Dec 2012
Review Article
Bhateja Sumit1*, Arora Geetika2
1Department of Oral Medicine Diagnosis and Radiology, Dr. DY Patil Dental College and Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra,
2Department of Public Health Dentistry, Vyas Dental College, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
Received on: 14/08/12 Revised on: 17/10/12 Accepted on: 05/11/12
*Corresponding author
DOI: 10.7897/2277-4343.03611
Published by Moksha Publishing House. Website
All rights reserved.
Nature has bestowed on us a very rich botanical wealth and a large number of diverse types of plants grow in different parts of the country. Plants ar e
the richest resource of drugs in traditional systems of medicine, modern medicines, nutraceuticals, food supplements, folk medicines, pharmaceutical
intermediates and chemical entities for synthetic drugs. Medicinal plants are a source of great economic value all over the world. Ocimum sanctum
Linn (Tulsi) is a well-known plant used in t he Indian system of medicine. This paper reviews the therapeutic potential of this plant in treatment of
various medical and oral disorders.
Keywords: Tulsi, Ocimum sanctum Linn, Oral medicine, Medicinal plant
In recent times, focus on plant research has increased all
over the world and a large body of evidence has collected
to show immense potential of medicinal plants used in
various traditional systems. The use of plants and plant
products as medicines could be traced as far back as the
beginning of human civilization. The earliest mention of
medicinal use of plants in Hindu culture is found in
Rigveda, which is said to have been written between
4500 - 1600 BC and is supposed to be the oldest
repository of human knowledge.1 Today the large number
of drugs in use are derived from plants, like morphine
from Papaver somniferum, Aswagandha from Withania
somnifera, Ephedrine from Ephedra vulgaris, Atropine
from Atropa belladonna, Reserpine from Rauwolfia
serpentina etc. The medicinal plants are rich in secondary
metabolites (which are potential sources of drugs) and
essential oils of therapeutic importance. The important
advantages claimed for therapeutic uses of medicinal
plants in various ailments are their safety besides being
economical, effective and their easy availability.2,3
Ayurveda, which means science of long life, is at least a
5000 year old system of Indian medicine (15001000 BC)
designed to promote good health and longevity rather than
to fight disease and was practiced by physicians and
surgeons (called bheshaja or vaidya). Until 700 B.C. this
science was orally discussed between sages and
physicians.4 In Ayurveda, Tulsi has been well
documented for its therapeutic potentials and described as
Dashemani Shwasaharni (antiasthmatic) and Kaphaghna
Tulsis History and Mythology in India
Tulsi in Sanskrit means one that is incomparable or
matchless. Tulsi was recognized thousands of years ago
by ancient Rishis to be one of the Indias greatest healing
herbs. They saw this herb is so good for health and
healing that it was declared as a God in itself. Tulsi is a
herb with its own mythological background. It is
supposed to be beloved of Lord Krishna, a reincarnation
of Lord Vishnu. Tulsi was then established as one of the
eight indispensable items in any Vedic worship ritual to
ensure that every house and temple had atleast one Tulsi
bush in its proximity. Still today Tulsi can be found
planted in most homes in India and is most respected and
honored herb due to its continuing importance in healing,
religion, spirituality, culture and decorative aesthetics. It
is so readily found now even in the West that one of its
names is Sulabha the easy obtainable on.5
Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi): A plant from genus
Among the plants known for medicinal value, the plants
of genus Ocimum belonging to family Labiatae are very
important for their therapeutic potentials. Ocimum
sanctum L. (Tulsi), Ocimum gratissium (RamTulsi),
Ocimum canum (Dulal Tulsi), Ocimum basilicum (Ban
Tulsi), Ocimum kilimandscharicum, Ocimum
ammericanum, Ocimum camphora and Ocimum
micranthum are examples of known important species of
genus Ocimum which grow in different parts of the world
and are known to have medicinal properties. Ocimum
sanctum L. known as Tulsi in Hindi and Holy Basil in
English is an erect softy hairy aromatic herb or
undershrub found throughout India. Tulsi is commonly
cultivated in gardens. Two types of Ocimum sanctum L.
are met within cultivation: (i) Tulsi plants with green
leaves known as Sri Tulsi and (ii) Tulsi plants with
purple leaves known as Krishna Tulsi. Ocimum sanctum
L. is held sacred by Hindus and is used as medicinal plant
in day to day practice in Indian homes for various
ailments.6, 7
Bhateja Sumit et al / IJRAP 3(6), Nov Dec 2012
Pharmacological Actions
Several medicinal properties have been attributed to
Ocimum sanctum L. Different parts of Tulsi plant e.g.
leaves, flowers, stem, root, seeds etc. are known to
possess therapeutic potentials and have been used by
traditional medical practitioners as expectorant, analgesic,
anticancer, antiasthmatic, antiemetic, diaphoretic,
antidiabetic, antifertility, hepatoprotective, hypotensive,
hypolipidmic and antistress agents. Tulsi has also been
used in treatment of fever, bronchitis, arthritis,
convulsions etc.8The following section discusses its
various therapeutic uses in medicine and dentistry.
Gastrointestinal Disorders
Aqueous decoction of Tulsi leaves is given to patients
suffering from gastric and hepatic disorders.6, 9 Herbal
preparations containing Ocimum sanctum L. have been
suggested to shorten the course of illness, clinical
symptoms and biochemical parameters in patients
suffering from viral hepatitis. Effective in increasing the
peristaltic movements of GI tract. It is helpful in
improving appetite. Also have some mild laxative
properties therefore helps in evacuation of the bowel and
maintenance of a healthy bowel.9 The juice of fresh leaves
is also given to patients to treat chronic fever, dysentery,
hemorrhage and dyspepsia.6,9 Tulsi leaves also check
vomiting and has been as anthelmintic. Gastric ulceration
and secretion are reported to be inhibited by Tulsi in
albino rats.8,10
Eye (Ocular) Disorders
The leaf juice of Ocimum sanctum L. along with Triphala
is used in Ayurvedic eye drop preparations recommended
for glucoma, cataract, chronic conjunctivitis and other
painful eye diseases.6,9
Cardiovascular Disorders
It has beneficial effect in cardiac diseases and the
weakness resulting from the various cardiac disorders. It
even reduces the level of blood cholesterol. Eugenol
(extracted from Tulsi leaves) has been well shown to
possess the vaso-relaxing action on rabbit arterial tissue
indicating its therapeutic importance as a vasodilator.11,12
Respiratory Disorders
Tulsi is very effective in treating the common cold. A
decoction of the leaves, with honey and ginger is an
effective remedy for bronchitis, bronchial asthma,
influenza, cough and cold. For the immediate relief in
cases of Influenza the decoction of the leaves, cloves and
common salt also gives immediate relief within the case
of influenza. Tulsi is important constituent of many
Ayurvedic cough syrups and expectorants. It helps to
mobilize mucus in bronchitis and asthma thus is very
beneficial for maintenance of a very healthy respiratory
passage. Chewing Tulsi leaves relieves cold and flu.
Water boiled with Tulsi leaves is taken as to drink in case
of sore throat. This water can also be used for the purpose
of gargles.8,13
Renal Disorders
Tulsi has strengthening effects on the kidney. In cases of
renal stone the juice of Tulsi leaves and honey, if taken
regularly for 6 months it will expel them through the
urinary tract. Leaves and seeds of Tulsi plants have been
reported to reduce blood and urinary uric acid level in
albino rabbits and possess diuretic property.14 The fresh
leaves and flower tops of Ocimum sanctum L. have been
used as antispasmodic agent (as smooth muscle
relaxant).6,8 The seeds are mucilaginous and demulcent
and are given in disorders of the genitourinary system.6
Dermatological Disorders
Applied locally, Tulsi juice is beneficial in treatment of
ringworm and other skin diseases. It is also very
beneficial in skin disorders such as leucoderma.8
Psychological Disorders
Tulsi leaves are regarded as an adaptogen or antistress.
Recent studies have shown that leaves provide its user
with significant protection against stress. Even healthy
persons can chew 12 leaves of Tulsi , twice a day to
prevent stress. It even purifies the blood and helps prevent
several common psychological disorders.15
Diabetes Mellitus
The leaves of Tulsi plant contain various essential oils
within them. It is therefore very useful in improving
pancreatic beta cell function and thus enhancing the
insulin secretion to keep a check over the blood sugar
within the patients suffering by diabetes.16
Inflammatory Disorders
Tulsi inhibits inflammation causing enzymes in our
bodies which contribute to pain and other signs of
inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effects of Tulsi are
comparable to ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin. Tulsi
even enhances the adrenal function by lowering cortisol
levels. This results in reducing the negative effects of
stress. Tulsi is very effective in suppressing any kind of
edema that happening in the body. It improves blood
circulation in the body therefore helpful in dealing with
any kind of swellings in the body.17
Antifertility effect
The leaves of Ocimum sanctum L. are said to have
abortifacient effect in women. Ocimum sanctum L. has
also got antifertility effect. Ursolic acid, one of the major
constituents of the Tulsi leaves has been suggested to
possess antifertility effect in rats of both sexes and in
male mice. Ursolic acid because of its anti-estrogenic
effect reduces spermatogenesis and causes a decrease in
sperm counts.18,19
Antitumor effect
The seed oil of Ocimum sanctum was evaluated for
chemo-preventive activity against subcutaneously injected
20 methylcholanthrene induced fibrosarcoma tumors in
the thigh region of Swiss albino mice. Supplementation of
maximal tolerated dose (100 ml/kg body weight) of the
oil significantly reduced 20-methylcholanthrene induced
tumor incidence and tumor volume. The results of this
study suggest that the potential chemopreventive activity
of the oil is partly attributable to its antioxidant properties.
The chemo-preventive efficacy of 100 ml/kg seed oil was
comparable to that of 80 mg/kg of vitamin E.20
Oro-Dental Uses
Oral Infections
Tulsi leaves are quite effective in treating common oral
infections. Also few leaves chewed help in maintaining
oral hygiene. Carracrol and Tetpene are the antibacterial
agents present in this plant. Sesquiterpene b-
caryophyllene also severs the same purpose. This
Bhateja Sumit et al / IJRAP 3(6), Nov Dec 2012
constituent is FDA approved food additive which is
naturally present in Tulsi.21
Tulsi can act as COX-2 inhibitor, like modern analgesics
due to its significant amount of Eugenol (1 - hydroxyl -
2methoxy - 4 allyl benzene) Ocimum sanctum leaves
contain 0.7% volatile oil comprising about 71% eugenol
and 20% methyl eugenol.22
Periodontal Disorders
Tulsi leaves dried in sun and powdered can be used for
brushing teeth. It can also be mixed with mustard oil to
make a paste and used as toothpaste. This is very good for
maintaining dental health, counteracting oral malodor
(halitosis). This can also be used for massaging gingiva to
treat various gingival and periodontal diseases.21,22
Anticariogenic Agent
Streptococcus mutans is a microorganism which has been
well implicated in causing dental caries. In an in-vitro
study the various concentrations of the Tulsi extracts have
been assessed against streptococcus mutans and
concluded that the composition of Tulsi extract 4% has a
maximum antimicrobial potential.21
The antifungal activity of the essential oil of Ocimum
sanctum and its two main components i.e. Eugenol and
linalool have been investigated against two species of
Candida (i.e. C. albicans and C. tropicalis) which are
known to causes oral candidiasis in a study and concluded
that linalool is more promising and effective against
Lichen planus
Ocimum sanctum have the unique property of acting on
the skin and blood tissue and also bring about the desired
immunomodulation and it one of the treatment options in
Ayurveda for treating lichen planus.24
Leukoplakia and Oral Submucous Fibrosis
Polyphenol rosmarinic acid present in Tulsi can act as a
powerful antioxidant so this property can therapeutically
utilized in treating common oral precancerous lesions and
Ayurvedic treatment aims at boosting the immune
system and promotes healing of the blisters and sores.
Due to its immunomodulating property Ocimum sanctum
may find its potential use in treating immunologically
mediated mucosal condition like pemphigus.27
Apthous Ulcerations
Ocimum sanctum at a dose of 100 mg/kg was found to be
effective antiulcer agent in a study. Anti-ulcer effect of
Ocimum sanctum may be due to its cytoprotective effect
rather than antisecretory activity. Conclusively Ocimum
sanctum is found to possess potent anti-ulcerogenic as
well as ulcer-healing properties and could act as a potent
therapeutic agent against peptic ulcer disease. This
property may also prove beneficial in oral ulcers.28
Tulsi contains Vitamin A and C, calcium , zinc and iron.
It also has chlorophyll and many other phytonutrients.
Deficiency of these nutrients has been associated with
variety of oral diseases.29
Therapies involving plants have existed for thousands of
years and some may be as old as human civilization itself.
One such medicinal plant is Tulsi which is regarded as
the Queen of Herbs because of its varied medicinal
properties and mythological value too. Several
pharmacological studies have established a scientific basis
for therapeutic uses of this plant. Traditionally it has been
used for treating various systemic conditions in Ayurveda.
It can prove beneficial in treating oral diseases also
because of its antibacterial, antiinflammatory, ulcer
healing, antioxidant, immunomodulatory properties.
Future studies should be directed to explore and evaluate
therapeutic significance of this miraculous plant in oral
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Cite this article as:
Bhateja Sumit, Arora Geetika. Therapeutic benefits of Holy Basil (Tulsi)
in general and oral medicine: A Review. Int. J. Res. Ayur. Pharm. 2012;
Source of support: Nil, Conflict of interest: None Declared
Full-text available
Most of herbal syrup was originally derived from plant herbal medicine refers to use extract of fruit for medicinal purpose. Along with other dosage from herbal drugs also formulated inform of syrups. Today syrup is used for treatment of many ailments and to overcome symptoms of diseases. The antioxidant syrup is used to treat the cancer because of many stress condition and other oxidative reaction in body the free radical are generated, by using these syrup the condition is overcome. The extraction of kiwi is added into orange peel it gives flavored to syrup and basil leaves extract is added as antibacterial agent to inhibit the growth of bacteria and sugar and alcohol used as preservative. Four formulation viz. F1, F2, F3 and F4 were prepared with variation in quantity of ingredients like alcohol, sugar and final volume of syrup. All prepared formulation was by parameters like density, specific gravity, pH, organoleptic characteristics. The results shown that herbal syrup formulation number 4 (F4) is more stable and elegant as compared to other formulations.
Full-text available
Aqueous extracts and oils of five Indian medicinal plants, traditionally used for their antimicrobial activities, were evaluated against two of the most prevalent Candida species causing candidiasis, C. albicans and C. tropicalis. Of these plant materials, three showed varying degrees of antifungal activity against both species. Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) essential oil (TEO) was found to be the most effective, followed by Peppermint essential oil, and Aloe vera aqueous leaf extract. The product with the lowest MIC was further studied along with its lead molecules to explore the possible mechanism of action of the most active constituents. Eugenol, methyl eugenol, linalool, and 1, 8-cineole, along with TEO were then evaluated at the same. The pattern and extent of inhibition was studied using growth and WST1 cytotoxicity assays. Proton pumps are important for growth and metabolism of Candida species and so H+ extrusion studies were performed to explore the possible mechanism of the test compounds. Linalool was the most active constituent of TEO, whereas inhibition of H+ extrusion appeared to be a synergistic function of the lead molecules.
To determine if Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) extract has an antimicrobial activity against Streptococcus mutans and to determine which concentration of Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) extract among the 15 concentrations investigated has the maximum antimicrobial activity. Experimental design, in vitro study, Lab setting. Ethanolic extract of Tulsi was prepared by the cold extraction method. The extract was then diluted with an inert solvent, dimethyl formamide, to obtain 15 different concentrations (0.5%, 1%, 1.5%, 2%, 2.5%, 3%, 3.5%, 4%, 4.5%, 5%, 6%, 7% 8%, 9%, 10%) of the extract. 0.2% chlorhexidine was used as a positive control and dimethyl formamide was used as a negative control. The extract, along with the controls, was then subjected to microbiological investigation to determine which concentration among the 15 different concentrations of the extract gave a wider inhibition zone against Streptococcus mutans. The zones of inhibition were measured in millimeters using a vernier caliper. Results: At the 4% concentration of Tulsi extract, a zone of inhibition of 22 mm was obtained. This was the widest zone of inhibition observed among all the 15 different concentrations of Tulsi that were investigated. Tulsi extract demonstrated an antimicrobial property against Streptococcus mutans.
Administration of fresh leaves of Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi) mixed as 1 g and 2 g in 100 gms of diet given for four weeks, brought about significant changes in the lipid profile of normal albino rabbits. This resulted in significant lowering in serum total cholesterol, triglyceride, phospholipid and LDL-cholesterol levels and significant increase in the HDL-cholesterol and total faecal sterol contents.
The antiulcerogenic property of Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi) was studied in pyloric ligated and pyloric ligated & aspirin treated rats. The extract of OSL reduced the ulcer index, free & total acidity on acute and chronic administration. Seven days pretreatment with the drug increased the mucous secretion also. It may be concluded that OSL extract has antiulcerogenic property against experimental ulcers, and it is due to its ability to reduce acid secretion and increase mucous secretion.