Holy Basil: What are the Health Benefits and Uses of Tulsi? Side Effects of Ocimum Tenuiflorum

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. What is Holy Basil? 
3. Morphology
4. Nutritional Profile
5. Nutritional Value
6. Ayurvedic properties of Holy Basil leaves and seeds
7. Health Benefits of Holy Basil
8. Uses of Holy Basil
9. Side Effects of Holy Basil
10. Frequently Asked Question

1. Introduction

Tulsi, also known as holy basil or Ocimum tenuiflorum, is a herb widely used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It is native to India and has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. Tulsi is known for its rich aroma and is often used in cooking, teas, and various natural remedies. In recent years, it has gained popularity as a natural supplement due to its potential health benefits. This article will explore the various uses and benefits of tulsi, including its potential effects on the immune system, stress and anxiety, and digestion. Additionally, it will discuss potential side effects and interactions with other medications, as well as provide tips for incorporating tulsi into your daily routine.

2. What is Holy Basil? 

Holy basil botanical name is Ocimum tenuiflorum, other common names are Tulsi, Sacred Basil, ocimum sanctum, or Tulasi, it is mainly found in India and is known as a sacred plant. In India, people worship the plant, and it is found in Indian houses and temples. The leaves of the plant are mainly used in Ayurveda for medicinal preparation since ancient times, leaves are also used in the worship of God.

Holy basil has been known since Vedic times and is regarded as an earthly manifestation of goddess Vrindavani who is said to be dear to Lord Vishnu.

The plant has many branches, erect, stout, and aromatic herbs, it grows up to the height of 75 cm and is hairy all over. The leaves of the plant are tender, egg-shaped, and smooth, it has a bitter and pungent taste. Flowers are small purplish or reddish and are in small compact clusters. Fruits are small and yellowish or reddish with seed.

Holy Basil

 3. Morphology

Holy Basil Leaves

The leaves of holy basil are used in making essential oils that contain eugenol, carvacrol, methyl eugenol, and caryophyllene. It has the property of destroying bacteria and insects. The leaves have also been separated to yield ursolic acid, apigenin, luteolin, apigenin-7, glucuronide, orientin, and molludistin.

holy basil leaf

Holy Basil Seeds

The seeds are mucilaginous, starchy, and nourishing, they are beneficial to soothe the skin and the mucous membranes and increase the volume of urine.

holy basil seeds

4. Nutritional Profile


Holy basil contains various vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and some of the B-complex vitamins like riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3).


It is a source of several minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.


Holy basil is rich in phytochemicals, including flavonoids, phenols, and essential oils such as eugenol.


Holy basil is low in calories, making it a healthy addition to various diets, including weight management programs.

Other Nutrients

Holy basil also contains trace amounts of other nutrients like folate and manganese, which are important for DNA synthesis and bone health, respectively.

5. Nutritional Value

Per 100gm serving, it can vary slightly depending on factors such as growing conditions and variety.

  • Calories: Approximately 23 kcal
  • Protein: About 3 grams
  • Fat: Less than 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: Around 4 grams
  • Fiber: Roughly 2 grams
  • Vitamin A: Approximately 5000 IU (International Units)
  • Vitamin C: Around 60 milligrams
  • Vitamin K: Roughly 200 micrograms
  • Calcium: About 300 milligrams
  • Iron: Approximately 5 milligrams
  • Magnesium: Roughly 50 milligrams
  • Potassium: Around 300 milligrams
  • Zinc: Approximately 1 milligram

6. Ayurvedic properties of Holy Basil leaves and seeds

Tulsi, is a sacred and highly revered herb in Ayurveda due to its numerous medicinal properties. Both its leaves and seeds are used for various therapeutic purposes.

Ayurvedic properties of Holy Basil leaf:

1. Rasa (Taste): The leaves of Holy Basil are considered to have a pungent (Katu) and bitter (Tikta) taste.

2. Virya (Potency): They are heating in nature (Ushna Virya).

3. Vipaka (Post-digestive taste): The post-digestive taste is pungent (Katu Vipaka).

4. Dosha Effects: Holy Basil leaves primarily balance Kapha and Vata doshas. Due to their heating nature, they may increase Pitta dosha in excess.

Ayurvedic Uses:

  1. Adaptogenic and Stress-Relieving: Holy Basil leaves are considered adaptogens, helping the body adapt to stress and promoting emotional well-being.

  2. Respiratory Health: They are beneficial for respiratory health and are used to manage conditions like cough, cold, bronchitis, and asthma.

  3. Digestive Support: Holy Basil leaves aid digestion, reduce gas, and alleviate indigestion.

  4. Anti-inflammatory: They possess anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to manage inflammation and related conditions.

  5. Immune Booster: Holy Basil leaves are believed to enhance the body's natural defense mechanisms and boost immunity.

  6. Liver Health: They support liver function and help in detoxification.

  7. Skin Care: In Ayurveda, Holy Basil leaves are used in certain skincare preparations to manage skin conditions like acne and promote a healthy complexion.

Ayurvedic properties of Holy Basil Seeds:

1. Rasa (Taste): The seeds of Holy Basil are considered to have a sweet (Madhura) taste.

2. Virya (Potency): They are cooling in nature (Sheeta Virya).

3. Vipaka (Post-digestive taste): The post-digestive taste is sweet (Madhura Vipaka).

4. Dosha Effects: Holy Basil seeds mainly balance Pitta dosha and can pacify excess heat in the body.

Ayurvedic Uses:

  1. Digestive Aid: Holy Basil seeds can aid digestion and help in managing digestive disorders.

  2. Cooling Effect: Due to their cooling nature, they are beneficial in conditions associated with excess heat in the body, such as fever or burning sensations.

  3. Reproductive Health: Holy Basil seeds are believed to support male reproductive health and are used in certain Ayurvedic formulations.

  4. Urinary Health: They can be used to manage urinary disorders and support kidney health.

Buy Holy Basil Leaf Powder
Buy Holy Basil Seeds Powder

7. What are the Health Benefits of Holy Basil?

Holy Basil has medicinal properties, the leaves are beneficial as a nerve tonic, sharpen memory, promote the removal of catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tubes, strengthen stomach muscles, and induce copious perspiration.

Here are some benefits listed

For Cough & Cold

It is beneficial for cough and cold, decoction of holy basil is used to treat cough and cold. Chewing raw leaves is also beneficial for the soaring throat.

For Eye Disorder

Basil juice is an effective remedy for sore eyes and night blindness which is generally caused by vitamin
A deficiency.

For Fever

The leaves of basil are the specific remedy for many fevers, during the rainy season when dengue and malaria fever are widely prevalent, basil tea is beneficial to protect against these diseases.

For Headache

Basil is a very good remedy for headaches, a decoction or pounded leaves are used to get relief from headaches.

For Heart

Ocimum tenuiflorum is beneficial in cardiac disease and the resultant weakness. It reduces the level of blood cholesterol.

For Insect Bite

Holy basil is a prophylactic, preventive and curative for insect stings and bites. The root juice is effective in cases of bites by insects and leeches.

For Kidney Stone

Basil is beneficial for kidney stones, studies say that if basil is taken regularly for six months, can treat the kidney stone.

For Mouth Infections

The leaves are an effective remedy for ulcers and infections of the mouth, fresh leaves are beneficial for gums problems, bad breath, and cavities.

For Skin Disorder

Holy basil is beneficial in many skin problems like eczema, pimples, inflammation, ringworms, and other skin diseases. It has also been used in some treatments of leukoderma.

For Sore Throat

Boiled basil leaf water is beneficial for sore throat, it helps to clean the mucus and reduce the swelling and soreness.

For Stress

Basil leaves are regarded as an adaptogen or anti-stress agent. Studies show that leaves afford significant protection against stress. It purifies the blood and helps to prevent several common ailments.

For Teeth Disorder

This herb is useful in teeth disorders. It is very beneficial for maintaining dental health, counteracting bad breath, and massaging the gums. It is also beneficial in treating pyorrhea.

Other Diseases

Holy basil is beneficial in gout and gonorrhea, it is a well-known remedy for earache and dullness of hearing. It is used as a snuff for expelling maggots from the nose.

Reduces Blood Sugar

Holy basil contains compounds that may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. It contains phytochemicals like eugenol, which has anti-diabetic properties. 

Reduces Cholesterol Level

Holy basil has potential benefits for reducing cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. It contains various bioactive compounds, including flavonoids and phenolic compounds, which help to contribute to lowering cholesterol levels. 

For Inflammation & Immunity

Holy basil contains anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, which help to reduce inflammation and support immune function. It has various bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, phenolic compounds, and essential oils such as eugenol that help to reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system. Additionally, holy basil's antioxidant properties may help protect immune cells from oxidative damage.

8. How to use Ocimum Tenuiflorum?

Dosage and uses depend upon the health problems and conditions or as recommended by an Ayurvedic doctor. The general recommended dosage is 5-10 grams of Ocimum tenuiflorum of leaves twice a day before an hour of a meal. A decoction of the leaf with honey and water can also be used.

Here are the uses of the Holy Basil

  • Take a decoction of holy basil leaf, which is helpful in gout and gonorrhea. It is also useful in neuralgia.
  • A few drops of holy basil fresh leaves in the ear, gives relief from earache and dullness of hearing.
  • Take 10 grams of holy basil seeds, and be immersed in cold water for 3-5 minutes, take this mixture with sugar, help to treat diarrhea, piles, cough, kidney disorder, and fever.
  • Take 5 grams of powder of dried leaves and mix with mustard oil to make a fine paste. Massage gently on gums and teeth.
  • Chew 12 leaves of holy basil twice a day, helps to prevent stress.
  • Take 10-12 holy basil leaves or 5 grams of basil powder, mix with water, and boiled it. Mix ¼ tsp of salt and use this water to gargle, gives relief from sore throat.
  • Take fresh juice of holy basil leaf and apply it to the affected skin area, giving relief from ringworm, eczema, and other skin problems.
  • Make a decoction of leaves with honey and ginger, it is helpful in asthma, influenza, cough, and cold.
  • Two drops of black basil leaves should be put into the eyes daily at bedtime.
  • Make a holy basil leaf decoction with half a liter of water mixed with powdered cardamom, rock sugar, and milk. Helps to h=give relief from malaria, and dengue.
  • Holy basil leaves juice with honey taken for 6 months and expels stones via the urinary tract.
  • Apply fresh root juice of holy basil on the affected part of insects and leeches, giving relief.

9. What are the Side-Effects of Tulsi?

All Ayurveda herbs are plant-based, and they don’ have any side effects but they may react with some allopathy or homeopathy medicine. It is better to consult the doctor if you are on any medications or have special health issues.

Some side effects are mentioned below.

  • Consult the doctor if you are breastfeeding.
  • Do not take without a doctor’s prescription if you are pregnant.
  • If you are on diabetes or hypertension medication. Consult first the doctor before consuming.
  • If you are suffering from kidney disease, consult the doctor first before consuming holy basil.
  • If you are on blood-thinning medication, consult the doctor first before consuming holy basil.
  • If you are on stress or anxiety medication, consult the doctor first before consuming holy basil.

10. Frequently Asked Question

Q - What is Ocimum tenuiflorum used for?

Ocimum tenuiflorum is used in Ayurveda for medicinal preparation since ancient times, leaves are also used in the worship of God. The leaves are beneficial as a nerve tonic, sharpen memory, promote the removal of the catarrhal matter, and phlegm from the bronchial tubes, strengthen stomach muscles and induce copious perspiration.

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