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11 Health Benefits of Holy Basil (Tulsi)

Updated on November 18, 2017
Chuck Bluestein profile image

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

Tulsi or Holy Basil

Holy Basil or Tulsi leaf and plant.
Holy Basil or Tulsi leaf and plant. | Source
Whole tulsi or holy basil plant.
Whole tulsi or holy basil plant. | Source
Holy basil or tulsi plant.
Holy basil or tulsi plant. | Source

Tulsi (Holy Basil) Health Benefits

There are 3 varieties of tulsi. There is Rama Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Krishna Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) and Vana Tulsi (Ocimum gratissimum).

An organic herb company sells Vana Holy Basil leaf (Octicum gratissimum), but it calls Rama and Krishna holy basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum. Wikipedia calls it Octicum gratissimum. It says:

Ocimum tenuiflorum, also known as Ocimum sanctum, Holy basil, or tulasī, is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae which is native throughout the Eastern World tropics and widespread as a cultivated plant.[1] It is an erect, much branched subshrub, 30–60 cm [1 to 2 feet] tall with hairy stems and simple opposite green or purple leaves that are strongly scented.

In the Hindi language sometimes the 'a' is silent. For example according to Wikipedia the same Hindi word is Rama or Ram. So the word tulasī can be pronounced as tulsi. Also Ocimum tenuiflorum is the same as Ocimum sanctum.

Here is a PubMed report called Ocimum sanctum L (Holy Basil or Tulsi) and its phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of cancer. It says:

Scientific studies have shown it to possess antiinflammatory, analgesic, antipyretic, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, hypolipidemic, antistress, and immunomodulatory activities. Preclinical studies have also shown that Tulsi and some of its phytochemicals eugenol, rosmarinic acid, apigenin, myretenal, luteolin, β-sitosterol, and carnosic acid prevented chemical-induced skin, liver, oral, and lung cancers....

Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen,[15] balancing different processes in the body, and helpful for adapting to stress.

Defenitions of the Above Activities

Antiinflammatory means preventing inflammation, analgesic means relieving pain, antipyretic means reducing fevers, antidiabetic means preventing diabetes, hepatoprotective means having the ability to prevent liver damage, hypolipidemic means reducing lipid concentration in the blood, antistress means reducing stress and immunomodulatory means modifying immune functions.

Plants contain thousands of phytochemicals that are plant medicines. Over 900 of them have been identified like lycopene in tomatoes, resveratrol in grapes and curcumin in turmeric. Tulasi or tulsi is considered to be an adoptogen while nettle leaf does the same things but only some consider nettle leaf to be an adaptogen. See 12 Health Benefits of Nettle Leaf Tea. says that this herb or plant has over a dozen different names including Indian basil, Krishna tulasi and sacred basil. It says:

Holy basil is used for the common cold, influenza ("the flu"), H1N1 (swine) flu, diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, earache, headache, stomach upset, heart disease, fever, viral hepatitis, malaria, stress, and tuberculosis. It is also used for mercury poisoning, to promote longevity, as a mosquito repellent, and to counteract snake and scorpion bites.

Let nothing which can be treated by diet be treated by other means. ~Maimonides

Leave your drugs in the chemist's pot if you can heal the patient with food. ~Hippocrates

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need. ~Ayurvedic Proverb

11 Health Benefits of Tulsi (Holy Basil)

1. Tulsi is Good for Insect, Snake and Scorpion Bites

You make a paste with the holy basil leaves and apply it externally to the wound. This webpage has a slide show that shows how you can make holy basil leaves and neem leaves into a paste. This paste is supposed to be good for getting rid of acne.

The way that many uses of herbs are found are that people experiment with them trying different things. This is originally how the all benefits were found in the first place. Many plants or herbs have been tested for the active chemicals in it and then those chemicals are turned into medications or drugs like the salacin from white willow bark became aspirin and the quinine in cinchona bark becoming a medicine (drug) for malaria.

2. Good for Heart Health

The eugenol in tulsi is a powerful antioxidant and helps to keep the blood pressure under control. This helps to protect the heart from the damage of high blood pressure.

3. Protects the Body Against Harmful Radiation

The above helps to make it known as an adaptogen. It protects the body from radiation just like ginkgo biloba, turmeric, grape seeds and green tea. The water-soluble flavonoids, orientin and vicenin in holy basil help to make it especially good at protecting you from radiation.

To learn more about these other herbs that help to protect you from radiation see 15 Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba and 12 Health Benefits of Turmeric.

4. Holy Basil Prevents Cancer

Preventing cancer and fighting cancer is the same thing since everyone has cancer cells in their body but most people have a healthy immune system that prevents them from growing. The creation of new blood vessels from existing ones is called angiogenesis. This is needed to repair wounds and after menstruation, but is self-limiting and firmly controlled.

Cancer grows by hijacking the cells that do this so a cancerous tumor can grow. Holy basil inhibits the angiogeneisis that takes place that helps the cancer to grow.

5. Helps Diabetes

This herb is good at helping the body keep control of its blood sugar levels.

6. Helps with Respiratory Disorders and Lung Problems

The phytochemicals camphene and eugenol in this herb helps help the lungs work better.

7. Helps with Pain Relief

This webpage says:

Tulsi plant acts like a COX-2 inhibitor and benefits people with painful medical condition. Some compounds found in tulsi helps to ease inflammatory and neurological pain and has no side effects whatsoever. Tulsi is also used in the treatment of ulcers, cuts and wounds because of its beneficial antiseptic and healing properties.

8. Tulsi is Great at Relieving Stress

This is the benefit that holy basil is most known for. There is even a PubMed (U.S. National Library of Medicine) study that shows this called Antistressor activity of Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi). This helped to show that some of the antistressor activity is due to its antioxidant properties.

9. Helps with the Common Cold, Fever, Sore Throat and Coughs

These could all be listed as separate benefits but I grouped the together since they are closely related. This is also related to the ability of this herb to help the lungs.

10. Helps the Body to Avoid Kidney Stones

This helps to strengthen the kidneys and helps the body to get rid of excess uric acid that causes kidney stones.

11.Strengthens Immune System to Fight the Flu, Malaria, Dysentery and More

There is a PubMed study on this called Therapeutic uses of Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi). The immune system is designed to fight off any microscopic things that are attacking the body and threatening it's health.

Medications are made by men and they work by trying to force an effect on the body. Herbal foods are created by nature and they work by nourishing the body so the body can do a better job of increasing its health.

Certified Organic Tulsi Leaves | 1 Pound

Organic Tulsi Tea - The Healthiest Alternative for Coffee by Dr. Joseph Mercola (D.O.-- doctor of osteopathic medicine)

Tulsi, Holy Basil. Adaptogenic Health Benefits | Using It As a Tea


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    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 4 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      I have drank a lot of tulsi tea. I love tea and herbal teas. Why drink water when tea and herbal tea is 99% water plus a lot more?

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Really interesting article on this holy basil. I'm gonna try it for sure. Have you ever takin this? I'm guessing you probably have. Thanks for sharing this informative and thorough article.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 4 years ago from India

      Cool, interesting info and useful.. VOTED UP