Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ocimum sanctum Linn.

Family : Lamiaceae

Synonym(s) : Ocimum tenuiflorum L.

English Name : Holy basil, Thai basil, Sacred Basil

Origin : India


The plant is an erect, herbaceous, much-branched, softly hairy annual. The leaves are elliptic-oblong, acute or obtuse, entire or serrate, pubescent on both sides and minutely gland-dotted; the flowers are in close whorled racemes, purplish or crimson. The nutlets are sub-globose or broadly ellipsoid, slightly compressed, nearly smooth, pale brown or reddish and show small black markings.


It is found growing naturally in moist soil nearly all over the globe. Also grown as a pot herd and in home gardens.

Parts Used : Whole plant

Herb Effects

Expectorant, stomachic, diuretic, antiseptic and cardiac stimulant, febrifuge (root).

Medicinal Use

Used in catarrh, cough, bronchitis, ringworm and other cutaneous diseases, stomachic in gastric disorders of children and in hepatic affections.

Mode of Action

  • Pretreatment of albino rats with ethanol extract of O. sanctum leaves prevented noise induced changes of two cholinergic parameters in all four areas of brain (Sembulingam et al., 2005).
  • Hypercholesterolemia-induced erythrocyte lipid peroxidation activity was dose-dependently inhibited by aqueous extracts of O. in male albino rabbits with significant liver and aortic tissue protection (Geetha and vasudevan, 2004).
  • Analgesic action of O.sanctum was shown to be exerted both centrally as well as peripherally and involved an interplay between various neurotransmitter systems in mice (Khanna and Bhatia, 2003).

  • Lowering of plasma levels of dienic conjugates and ketones, and activation of catalase in red cells characteristic of antioxidant effect were observed in exposure of 150 bronchitis patients to essential oils of rosemary, basil, fir, eucalyptus (Siurin, 1997).

  • Ocimum sanctum was shown to be helpful in the treatment of mild to moderate noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (Agrawal et al., 1996).


Leaf infusion : 4-12 ml.
Decoction : 28-56 ml.
Capsules: 2.5 grams per day.
Volatile oil: 2 to 5 drops three times per day.


  1. Agrawal P, Rai V, Singh RB. Randomized placebo-controlled, single blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1996 Sep;34(9):406-9.
  2. Geetha RK, Vasudevan DM. Inhibition of lipid peroxidation by botanical extracts of Ocimum sanctum: in vivo and in vitro studies. Life Sci. 2004 Nov 19;76(1):21-8.
  3. Khanna N, Bhatia J. Antinociceptive action of Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi) in mice: possible mechanisms involved. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Oct;88(2-3):293-6.
  4. Sembulingam K, Sembulingam P, Namasivayam A. Effect of Ocimum sanctum Linn on the changes in central cholinergic system induced by acute noise stress. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jan 15;96(3):477-82.
  5. Siurin SA. Effects of essential oil on lipid peroxidation and lipid metabolism in patients with chronic bronchitis, Klin Med (Mosk). 1997;75(10):43-5.

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