Plant Name Ocimum tenuiflorum
Common name: Holy basil
English: Holy basil
Interesting facts and history
It is widely known across the Indian subcontinent as a medicinal plant and a herbal tea, commonly used in Ayurveda, and has an important role within the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism, in which devotees perform worship involving holy basil plants or leaves. This plant is revered as an elixir of life.
Holy basil is an erect, many-branched subshrub, 30–60 cm (12–24 in) tall with hairy stems.
Leaves are green or purple; they are simple, petioled, with an ovate, up to 5 cm (2.0 in)-long blade which usually has a slightly toothed margin; they are strongly scented and have a decussate phyllotaxy.
The purplish flowers are placed in close whorls on elongate racemes .
A nutlet. Fruiting throughout the year.
Habit / Habitat
A strong aromatic herb. Abundant in fallow fields. Plains from the coast to 900m. India, Sri Lanka, Himalaya, Bangladesh, south west Asia, Burma, China, Thailand, Malaysia, often cultivated.
- Asia - China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, northern Australia.
Maharashtra: Ahemdnagar, Dhule, Nasik, Pune, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Satara, Thane Kerala: All districts Tamil Nadu: All districts
World wide use: Leaves, Seed, Whole body
Used by tribal community in Jawhar: Roots,Leaves
Method of consumption
Leaves - raw or cooked. Sweetly spicy, with a sharp, pronounced clove scent and pungency[. Used in salads, they can also be cooked as a potherb or used as a flavoring in a variety of dishes.
A refreshing tea can be made from the leaves.
The mucilaginous seeds are made into a sweet, cooling beverage.
Sacred basil is a very important herb in the Ayurvedic tradition. A pungently aromatic, warming, antiseptic herb; it induces perspiration; lowers fevers; relaxes spasms; eases pain; clears bacterial infections; strengthens the immune and nervous systems; reduces inflammations; and benefits the digestive system. Research has shown that the herb has the ability to lower blood sugar levels.
The essential oils from the leaf have shown antibacterial and antifungal activity. They contain methylchaviol, eugenol and other volatile, commercial oils.
The plant is used internally in the treatment of feverish illnesses (especially in children), colds, influenza, sinusitis, headaches, rheumatism, arthritis, digestive disorders, including abdominal distension and cramps; low libido and negativity. It has been found helpful in some types of diabetes.
The herb is used externally as an antiseptic to treat skin infections, spots etc. The juice of the plants is used to treat insect bites and ringworm. The juice is dropped into the ear to treat earaches.
The leaves can be harvested during the growing season and used fresh or dried for later use.
The seeds are used as a tonic
Nutritional and medicinal information
Some of the active chemical constituents of tulsi are: oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid,eugenol, carvacrol, linalool, β-caryophyllene (about 8%)
Tulsi essential oil has been found to consist mostly of eugenol (~70%) β-elemene (~11.0%), β-caryophyllene (~8%) and germacrene (~2%), with the balance being made up of various trace compounds, (mostly terpenes).
Isolated O. sanctum extracts have some antibacterial activity against E. coli, S. aureus and P. aeruginosa.
Benefits of Tulsi :
Helps relieves stress / adaptogen
Helps Enhances stamina
Provides support during cold season
Helps Promotes healthy metabolism
A natural immuno-modulator
Harvesting and preserving
Tulsi seed is easy to germinate and grow. Sow the small Tulsi seeds in early spring indoors or in the greenhouse for an early start, or sow Tulsi seed directly in the spring or summer garden. Sow Tulsi seeds just under the surface of the soil and press in firmly. Keep Tulsi seed watered and warm until germination, which occurs within 2 to 3 weeks (faster for Kapoor). Tulsi prefers full sun, rich soil, and plenty of water. Thin or transplant to 1 to 2 feet apart. Tulsi does well in pots or window boxes, and is traditionally grown for good luck near the front door of the house.
Propagation and Storage
A plant of the moist to wet, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 meters. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 28°c, but can tolerate 15 - 35°c. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -1°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 700 - 7,600mm.
Prefers a moist but well-drained soil in a sunny position. Prefers a rich, light, well-drained to dry soil and a position in full sun. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7.5, tolerating 5 - 9. Cool, humid, overcast weather causes the plants to succumb to grey mould.
The twigs can be harvested only one month after planting out the young plants, and thereafter at periods of every two weeks during the growing season.
The plant attains full bloom stage (maturity) 65 - 70 days after transplanting.
There are several named varieties
For centuries, the dried leaves have been mixed with stored grains to repel insects. In Sri Lanka this plant is used as a mosquito repellent. Sinhala: Maduruthalaa
The stems are cut into beads for rosaries