Holy Basil

Ocimum sanctum


General information

Ocimum sanctum, known as Tulsi in Hindi and Surasa in Sanskrit, is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae. Tulsi is native throughout the tropics and is widespread as a cultivated plant and an escaped weed. It is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes and for its essential oil. Two main varieties are cultivated in India: green leaved or Lakshmi Tulsi and purple-leaved Krishna tulsi. Tulsi has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda for its diverse healing properties. It is mentioned by Charaka in the Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic text. Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen, balancing different processes in the body, and helping it adapt to stress. Marked by a strong aroma and astringent taste, it is regarded in Ayurveda as a kind of “elixir of life” and is believed to promote longevity. Traditionally, Tulsi is taken in many forms—as an herbal tea, a dried powder, fresh leaf, or mixed with ghee. Essential oil extracted from Tulsi is used mainly for medicinal purposes and in herbal cosmetics, and is widely used in skin preparations because of its anti-bacterial activity. For centuries, the dried leaves of Tulsi have been mixed with stored grains to repel insects.

Another study revealed that Tulsi’s beneficial effect on blood glucose levels is due to its anti- oxidant properties. Tulsi also shows some promise for protection from radiation poisoning and cataracts. Finally, it can be used for indigestion, and diminished appetite.


Synonymous Names

English: Sacred basil, holy basil Hindi: Tulsi, tulasi

Sanskrit: Surasa, vrinda



Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) grows wild throughout India and other tropical areas, to an elevation of 1800 meters.

Botanical Characteristics

Tulsi is an erect, much-branched annual herb that reaches a maximum height of 1.5 meters. The plant has simple, opposite green or purple leaves that are strongly scented, with hairy stems. They are elliptical, oblong, acute or obtuse, and pubescent on both sides. The leaves have petioles, up to 5 cm. long, and are usually somewhat toothed. Tulsi flowers are very small, purplish or crimson, occurring in long racemes in close whorls. the fruits or nutlets are small, subglobose or broadly ellipsoid, pale brown or reddish with small markings.


Chemical Composition

Essential oil: Tulsi’s leaf and flower contain an essential oil composed of eugenol, eugenal, carvacrol, methyl chavicol, linalool, caryophyllene, elemene and others. Fatty acids: Stearic, myristic, palmitic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids and their methyl esters. Triterpenes and sterols: Ursolic acid, campesterol, cholesterol, stigmasterol, p-sitosterol and others. Flavonoids and polyphenols: Vicenin-2, rosmarinic acid, galuteolin, cirsilineol, gallic acid, gallic acid methyl and ethyl esters, protocatechuic acid, vanillic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillin, 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and phenylpropane glucosides.

Uses and Actions

• Anti-oxidant

• Healthy inflammatory response

• Cognitive support

• Adaptogen

• Immunomodulation


• Blood sugar maintenance

• Support a healthy heart

• Healthy lungs

• Immune health

• Cognitive functions

• Memory support

Parts Used

• Leaves are used

• 2.5% Ursolic acid

• 5% Tannins