Ocimum tenuiflorum

Ocimum tenuiflorum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Ocimum
Species: O. tenuiflorum
Binomial name
Ocimum tenuiflorum

Ocimum sanctum

Ocimum tenuiflorum (also tulsi, tulasī, or Holy Basil [in Indian languages -> Kannada: ತುಳಸಿ, Telugu: తులసి, Tamil: துளசி,Nepali and Hindi: तुलसी , Marathi: तुळस, Malayalam: തുളസി ]) is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae which is native throughout the Old World tropics and widespread as a cultivated plant and an escaped weed.[1] It is an erect, much branched subshrub 30–60 cm tall with hairy stems and simple opposite green leaves that are strongly scented. Leaves have petioles, and are ovate, up to 5 cm long, usually slightly toothed. Flowers are purplish in elongate racemes in close whorls.[2] There are two main morphotypes cultivated in India and Nepal—green-leaved (Sri or Lakshmi tulsi) and purple-leaved (Krishna tulsi).[3]

Tulsi is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes, and for its essential oil. It is widely known across South Asia as a medicinal plant and an herbal tea, commonly used in Ayurveda, and has an important role within the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism, in which devotees perform worship involving tulsi plants or leaves.

There is also a variety of Ocimum tenuiflorum which is used in Thai cuisine, and is referred to as Thai holy basil, or kraphao (กะเพรา)[4]—not be confused with Thai basil, which is a variety of Ocimum basilicum.



Recent studies suggest that tulsi may be a COX-2 inhibitor, like many modern painkillers, due to its high concentration of eugenol (1-hydroxy-2-methoxy-4-allylbenzene).[5][6]One study showed Tulsi to be an effective treatment for diabetes by reducing blood glucose levels.[7] The same study showed significant reduction in total cholesterol levels with tulsi. Another study showed that tulsi's beneficial effect on blood glucose levels is due to its antioxidant properties.[8] Tulsi also shows some promise for protection from radiation poisoning[9] and cataracts.[10] The fixed oil has demonstrated anti-hyperlipidemic and cardioprotective effects in rats fed a high fat diet[11] Experimental studies have shown that an alcoholic extract of Tulsi modulates immunity, thus promoting immune system function.[12] Some of the main chemical constituents of tulsi are: oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid, eugenol, carvacrol, linalool, β-caryophyllene,[13] β-elemene (c.11.0%), β-caryophyllene (circa 8%), and germacrene D (c.2%).[14] β-Elemene has been studied for its potential anticancer properties, [15] but human clinical trials have yet to confirm its effectiveness.[16]


Tulsi flowers
Close-up of tulsi leaves

Tulsi has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda for its diverse healing properties. It is mentioned in the Charaka Samhita,[17] an ancient Ayurvedic text. Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen,[13] balancing different processes in the body, and helpful for adapting to stress.[18] Marked by its strong aroma and astringent taste, it is regarded in Ayurveda as a kind of "elixir of life" and believed to promote longevity.[19]

Tulsi’s extracts are used in ayurvedic remedies for common colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria. Traditionally, tulsi is taken in many forms: as herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf, or mixed with ghee. Essential oil extracted from Karpoora tulsi is mostly used for medicinal purposes and in herbal cosmetics, and is widely used in skin preparations due to its anti-bacterial activity. For centuries, the dried leaves of tulsi have been mixed with stored grains to repel insects.[20]


Tulsi or Tulasi is a sacred plant for Hindus. Water mixed with tulsi petals is given to the dying to raise their departing souls to heaven.[21] Tulsi, which is Sanskrit for "the incomparable one", is worshipped throughout India, most often regarded as a consort of Krishna in the form of Lakshmi.[22][23] According to Brahma Vaivarta Purana tulsi is an expression of Sita.[24] There are two types of tulsi worshipped in Hinduism: "Rama tulsi" has light green leaves and is larger in size; "Shyama tulsi" has dark green leaves and is important for the worship of Hanuman.[25] Many Hindus have tulsi plants growing in front of or near their home, often in special pots. Traditionally tulsi is planted in the center of the central courtyard of Hindu houses. It is also frequently grown next to Hanuman temples, especially in Varanasi.[26]

In the ceremony of Tulsi Vivah, tulsi is ceremonially married to Krishna annually on the eleventh day of the waxing moon or twelfth of the month of Kartika in the lunar calendar. This day also marks the end of the four-month Cāturmāsya period, which is considered inauspicious for weddings and other rituals, and so the day inaugurates the annual marriage season in India. The ritual lighting of lamps each evening during Kartika includes the worship of the tulsi plant, which is held to be auspicious for the home. Vaishnavas especially follow the daily worship of tulsi during Kartika.[27]

Vaishnavas traditionally use japa malas made from tulsi stems or roots, which are an important symbol of initiation. Tulsi malas are considered to be auspicious for the wearer, and believed to put them under the protection of Hanuman. They have such a strong association with Vaishnavas, that followers of Hanuman are known as "those who bear the tulasi round the neck".[23]

Thai cuisine

The leaves of holy basil, known as kraphao in the Thai language (Thai: กะเพรา), are commonly used in Thai cuisine.[28] Kraphao should not be confused with horapha (Thai: โหระพา), which is normally known as Thai basil,[28] or with Thai lemon basil (maenglak; Thai: แมงลัก).

The best-known dish made with this herb is Phat kraphao (Thai: ผัดกะเพรา) — beef, pork or chicken stir fried with Thai holy basil.


  1. ^ Staples, George; Michael S. Kristiansen (1999). Ethnic Culinary Herbs. University of Hawaii Press. p. 73. ISBN 9780824820947. 
  2. ^ Warrier, P K (1995). Indian Medicinal Plants. Orient Longman. p. 168. ISBN 0863115519. 
  3. ^ Kothari, S K, Bhattacharya et al. (November/December 2005). "Volatile Constituents in Oil from Different Plant Parts of Methyl Eugenol-Rich Ocimum tenuiflorum L.f. (syn. O. sanctum L.) Grown in South India". Journal of Essential Oil Research: JEOR. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4091/is_200511/ai_n15935884/pg_1. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  4. ^ Staples, ibid.
  5. ^ Indian J Exp Biol. 1999 Mar;37(3):248-52.
  6. ^ Prakash P, Gupta N. Therapeutic uses of Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi) with a note on eugenol and its pharmacological actions: a short review.
  7. ^ Effect of Ocimum sanctum Leaf Powder on Blood Lipoproteins, Glycated Proteins and Total Amino Acids in Patients with Non-insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine. V. RAI MSC, U. V. MANI MSC PHD FICN AND U. M. IYER MSC PHD. Volume 7, Number 2 / June 1, 1997. p. 113 - 118
  8. ^ Evaluation of Hypoglycemic and Antioxidant Effect of Ocimum Sanctum,. Jyoti Sethi, Sushma Sood, Shashi Seth, and Anjana Talwar. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, 2004, 19 (2) 152-155.
  9. ^ Devi, P. Uma; Ganasoundari, A.. Modulation of glutathione and antioxidant enzymes by Ocimum sanctum and its role in protection against radiation injury. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, v.37, n.3, 1999. March,:262-268.
  10. ^ Sharma, P; Kulsh tulsi is not good for you reshtha, S; Sharma, A L. Anti-cataract activity of Ocimum sanctum on experimental cataract. Indian Journal of Pharmacology, v.30, n.1, 1998:16-20
  11. ^ Suanarunsawat T, Boonnak T, Na Ayutthaya WD, Thirawarapan S.,"Anti-hyperlipidemic and cardioprotective effects of Ocimum sanctum L. fixed oil in rats fed a high fat diet." J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2010;21(4):387-400
  12. ^ Mondal S., Varma S., Bamola V.D., Naik S.N., Mirdha B.R., Padhi M.M., Mehta N., Mahapatra S.C. "Double-blinded randomized controlled trial for immunomodulatory effects of Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) leaf extract on healthy volunteers" Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2011
  13. ^ a b Kuhn, Merrily; David Winston (2007). Winston & Kuhn's Herbal Therapy & Supplements: A Scientific and Traditional Approach. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 260. ISBN 9781582554624. 
  14. ^ Padalia, Rajendra C.; Verma, Ram S. (2011). "Comparative volatile oil composition of four Ocimum species from northern India". Natural Product Research 25 (6): 569–575. doi:10.1080/14786419.2010.482936. PMID 21409717. 
  15. ^ β-Elemene, a novel plant-derived antineoplastic agent, increases cisplatin chemosensitivity of lung tumor cells by triggering apoptosis
  16. ^ Peng, X; Zhao, Y; Liang, X; Wu, L; Cui, S; Guo, A; Wang, W (2006). "Assessing the quality of RCTs on the effect of beta-elemene, one ingredient of a Chinese herb, against malignant tumors". Contemporary clinical trials 27 (1): 70–82. doi:10.1016/j.cct.2005.07.002. PMID 16243588. 
  17. ^ NIIR Board, National Institute of Industrial Research (India) (2004). Compendium of Medicinal Plants. 2004. National Institute of Industrial Research. p. 320. ISBN 9788186623800. 
  18. ^ Botanical Pathways article with clinical trials details
  19. ^ Puri, Harbans Singh (2002). Rasayana: Ayurvedic Herbs for Longevity and Rejuvenation. CRC Press. pp. 272–280. ISBN 9780415284899. 
  20. ^ Biswas, N. P.; Biswas, A. K.. "Evaluation of some leaf dusts as grain protectant against rice weevil Sitophilus oryzae (Linn.)". Environment and Ecology (Vol. 23) ((No. 3) 2005): pp. 485–488. 
  21. ^ http://www.hindunet.org/faq/fom-serv/cache/19.html
  22. ^ Claus, Peter J.; Sarah Diamond, Margaret Ann Mills (2003). South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. p. 619. ISBN 9780415939195. http://books.google.com/?id=au_Vk2VYyrkC&pg=PA619. 
  23. ^ a b Simoons, Frederick J. (1998). Plants of life, plants of death. Univ of Wisconsin Press. pp. 7–40. ISBN 9780299159047. http://books.google.com/?id=KEUAbrBoeBAC&pg=PA14. 
  24. ^ Brahma vaivarta Purana 4.67.65
  25. ^ Chatterjee, Gautam (2001). Sacred Hindu Symbols. Abhinav Publications. pp. 93. ISBN 9788170173977. http://books.google.com/?id=NQ0XQHEkuIcC&pg=RA1-PA93. 
  26. ^ Simoons, pp. 17-18.
  27. ^ Flood, Gavin D. (2001). The Blackwell companion to Hinduism. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 331. ISBN 9780631215356. http://books.google.com/?id=qSfneQ0YYY8C&pg=PA331. 
  28. ^ a b Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ocimum tenuiflorum —   Tulasī …   Wikipedia Español

  • Ocimum tenuiflorum — Indisches Basilikum Indisches Basilikum (Ocimum tenuiflorum) Systematik Unterklasse: Asternähnliche (Asteridae) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ocimum tenuiflorum — siauralapis bazilikas statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Notrelinių šeimos prieskoninis, vaistinis augalas (Ocimum tenuiflorum), paplitęs atogrąžų Azijoje. Iš jo gaminami maisto priedai (kvėpikliai). atitikmenys: lot. Ocimum sanctum; Ocimum… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • Ocimum tenuiflorum — ID 56776 Symbol Key OCTE2 Common Name holy basil Family Lamiaceae Category Dicot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity Introduced to U.S. US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution PR Growth Habit Forb/herb Duration …   USDA Plant Characteristics

  • Ocimum tenuiflorum — …   Википедия

  • Ocimum tenuiflorum L. — Symbol OCTE2 Common Name holy basil Botanical Family Lamiaceae …   Scientific plant list

  • Ocimum — basilicum Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae …   Wikipedia

  • Ocimum — Ocimum …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ocimum — Basilikum Afrikanisches Basilikum (Ocimum gratissimum) Systematik Unterklasse: Asternähnliche (Asteridae) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ocimum sanctum — Indisches Basilikum Indisches Basilikum (Ocimum tenuiflorum) Systematik Unterklasse: Asternähnliche (Asteridae) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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