Holy Basil (Ocimum basilicum): Classification, Origin, Distribution Characteristics Chemical Constituents and Uses

Holy Basil (Ocimum basilicum): Classification, Origin, Distribution Characteristics Chemical Constituents and Uses


 Kingdom:  Plantae

Order:  Lamiales

Family:  Lamiaceae

Genus:  Ocimum

Species:  O. basilicum


Tulsi is a Hindu sacred plant that is revered throughout India. Tulsi is a Sanskrit word that means “the incomparable one” or “matchless one.” Ocimum sanctum is a 75-cm tall, multi-branched, erect, sturdy, and scented plant. This little plant is grown and worshipped in Hindu temples and homes all over India. Vishnu-Priya, Tulsi in Sanskrit, Kala Tulsi in Hindi, and India’s Holy Basil in English are all frequent names for this plant. This plant’s leaves, seeds, and roots have all been employed in traditional ayurvedic treatment. This herb has long been prized for its medicinal qualities. Tulsi comes in two varieties: Black (Krishna Tulsi) and Green (Tulsi) (Ram Tulsi). Chemically and medicinally, they are quite similar. Ocimum sanctum L (Tulsi), Ocimum gratissimum (Ram Tulsi), Ocimum canum (Dulal Tulsi), Ocimum bascilicum (Ban Tulsi), Ocimum kilimandschricum, Ocimum americanum, Ocimum camphora, and Ocimum micranthum are some of the species found in the genus Ocimum. They are extensively renowned for their therapeutic benefits and are grown in many places of the world. Vanya (wild) and Gramya (grown in hones) are two other names for Tulsi. Colds, coughs, malaria, dengue fever, bronchitis, asthma, sore throats, influenza, heart conditions, eye problems, mouth infections, insect bites, stress, and kidney stones are just a few of the ailments that can be treated with this plant.

Holy Basil


Basil grows wild as a perennial on various Pacific islands and is native to Asia and Africa. In the sixteenth century, Basil was carried from India to Europe via the Middle East, and then to America in the seventeenth century.


O. sanctum is found throughout Asia’s tropical and subtropical regions. The plant is native to India, including the Himalayas, Malaysia, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and various parts of Africa. It is grown in practically every state in India. It is seen near temples and places of worship due to various religious beliefs. There is currently no information about specific sites where the species can be found natively.


1.Ocimum sanctum is a Lamiaceae plant.

2. Tulsi is a bushy upright shrub that can reach a height of 18 inches.

3. It has hairy stems that sprout oval leaves with serrated edges that vary in colour from pale to dark purple depending on the type.

4. The tulsi plant produces tiny rust coloured fruit and blooms erect purple or reddish flowers.

5. It has a robust scent and flavour compared to other basil types.

6. When fully mature, it is an erect, branching, fractured shrub that grows to a height of about 30- 60cm. Simple, aromatic, branched, opposite, obtuse, elliptical, and with dentate margins, its leaves are simple, fragrant, branched, opposite, obtuse, elliptical, and with dentate margins. They can grow to be up to 5cm long.

7. The flowers are purple and elongate racemes in tight whorls. The seeds have a radish yellow colour, and the fruits are tiny. After the wet season, it is planted and harvested after a few months.

8. It has a tiny phyllotaxy and a 2-5 cm long, thin, pubescent petiole.

9. This plant’s flowers are verticillaster inflorescence, which ranges in colour from purple to pink.

10. Bracts are sessile, ovate, caduceus, hermaphrodite, pedicel 1-4 mm long, spreading or slightly curved, flowers are single or branched racemes 5- 30cm tall, bracts are sessile, ovate, caduceus, hermaphrodite, pedicel 1-4 mm long, spreading or slightly curved. Flowering began at 136 days and lasted until 195 days, with seeds maturing at 259 days.

11. Fruit with four dry, one-seeded nutlets enclosed in a persistent calyx; long up to 1.5mm, rugose brown pericarp that does not become mucilaginous in water. It yields reddish-black seeds that are tiny in size.

12. The stems of freshly formed plants are green, but as the plant matures, they become woody.

13. Various essential oils, such as eugenol, are found in the roots of the Ocimum sanctum.


Basil is a tropical perennial that is grown as an annual in temperate climes, where it can be sown directly from seed or transplanted. While other members of the basil family (Lamacaea) thrive in crowded conditions, basil prefers to have little competition for sunlight and water. Basil is a frost-sensitive plant that has to be sheltered from temperatures below freezing. Basil grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade (but with less vigour). Basil should not be overwatered to avoid “damping off” illness. Basil leaves are the most often used part of the plant, and the supply can be boosted by pinching off blooms as they arise throughout the growing season. Basil can be sown outside when the threat of frost has passed, or it can be started indoors and transferred outside for an earlier harvest. Seeds germinate in four to five days and can be stored for years if kept dry. Opinions differ on the best distance between basil plants and rows; for efficient output, 8 inches between plants and rows may be employed. Basil can be grown indoors in pots in colder locations and over the winter.

The plant’s size, shape, and therapeutic characteristics are influenced by the kind of soil and rainfall. The Ocimum genus has over 150 species in Asia’s tropical regions.

Chemical Constituents

In Holy Tulsi, researchers discovered 45 chemicals and oils. Rosmarinic acid (a potent antioxidant), linalool, methyl chavicol, and methylcinnamate are the primary constituents of basilare volatile oil.

Rhythmol, eugenol, and camphor are the main components that give it therapeutic properties. The seeds contain fatty acid and sitosterol-rich oil. It is a therapeutic herb that contains vitamins A and C, which increase the generation of disease-fighting antibodies by up to 20%, as well as antioxidants.


Plants are a valuable source of medication. Tulsi, a culinary and medicinal aromatic herb, is highly regarded among them. It is native to the Indian subcontinent and has been utilised for over 3000 years in Ayurvedic therapy. Tulsi is a branching, erect subshrub with hairy stems that grow 30-80cm tall. The leaves are simple, petioled, and have an ovate, up to a 5cm-long blade, which is commonly green or purple. They feature a decussate phyllotaxy and have somewhat toothed margins. On elongated racemes, the purplish blooms are arranged in tight whorls.

Culinary Uses

Basil is used in a wide range of dishes, including vegetables, meat, seafood, sauces, stews, dressings, herbal teas, liqueurs, and mixed drinks. It is a traditional English herb used in the preparation of turtle soup. Pesto, a varied combination of basil, oil, garlic, cheese, and nuts, is often prepared using it, both by the family and by the industrial maker. Basil is frequently used to complement tomatoes. Basil can be preserved in oil or vinegar, or it can be frozen.

 Basil’s flavour is better preserved by freezing than by drying. Dried basil has a far longer storage life than fresh basil, which can only be kept in the refrigerator for a limited period. Basil should be dried away from direct sunshine, which might cause the leaves to darken throughout the drying process.

Tulsi plant as per Ayurveda  

Ayurvedic experts advise using all parts of the Tulsi plant (Ocimum Sanctum). To prepare its juice, we must gather practically all aerial parts of the Tulsi plant, including leaves, fragile branches, tender roots, seeds, and flowers. Clean them thoroughly with clean, running water. To make a soft paste, cut them into small pieces and smash them in a mortar with a pastel. To obtain pure Tulsi fluid, place the prepared arrangement on a thin cotton cloth and press it. Tulsi is an ayurvedic medication that is used to treat common colds, headaches, stomach issues, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria.

Tulsi is traditionally consumed in a variety of ways, including herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf, or combined with honey or ghee. This traditional shrub belongs to the Labiatae family and is distinguished by its square stem and distinct perfume. There are two types of Osmium sanctum or common Tulsi plant. Ram Tulsi is a green-leaved Tulsi plant. Krishna Tulsi is a purple-leaved Tulsi plant.

Tulsi medicinal property as per Ayurveda

1.Tulsi is anti-inflammatory because it reduces vata. As a result, applying it externally to a swollen area can help to lessen swelling and pain.

2. Tulsi is effective in treating a variety of skin conditions. It helps with rashes, insect bites, and irritation. This plant’s trees are excellent in treating ringworm and leucoderma infections.

3. Nasya karma uses fresh Tulsi leaf juice. This approach aids in the relief of headaches and head and neck illnesses. Tulsi leaves are an aphrodisiac.

4. Tulsi leaf extract can help with acne, pimples, and scarring.

5. Tulsi arrangements can help with indigestion, intestinal parasites, and constipation, according to Ayurvedic medicine.

6. Tulsi leaves that have been trampled are highly effective in treating fever, cough, bronchitis, and other pulmonary ailments.

7. Tulsi is used as a blood purifier and heart tonic.

8. Tulsi seeds help with ejaculation on the spur of the moment. An aphrodisiac that isn’t overpowering.

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