Tulsi: properties and everything you need to know about Indian sacred basil

Properties, use, contraindications and legends about Tulsi, the Indian sacred basil that grows spontaneously on the Himalayas

The Tulsi is a variety of basil used as a spice, medicinal remedy and sacred plant. Let’s find out everything you need to know about this small and powerful spontaneous aromatic plant .


  • Tulsi, characteristics and origin of sacred basil
  • Because Tulsi is considered sacred
  • Tulsi properties for health and contraindications
  • When and how to use Tulsi

Tulsi, characteristics and origin of sacred basil

The Tulsi is a perennial plant belonging suffruticosa from the family Lamiaceae , the same as the basil which the Tulsi partly resembles in appearance.

Also called sacred basil , the scientific name of this plant is Ocimum tenuiflorum but the texts also report the botanical name Ocimum sanctum which also indicates other similar species and crop varieties. In Hindi sacred basil is known as Tulsi, which becomes Tulasi in Sanscito.

The plant grows spontaneously on the Himalaya mountains at an altitude of two thousand meters and is very easily found in the gardens and courtyards of homes in the places of origin.

Tulsi can also be grown here : in regions where the climate is warmer and wetter, sacred basil manages to live outside during the summer months, while in winter it needs to be sheltered and with special lights to plant.
Like any other plant, Tulsi does not necessarily produce the same substances outside its habitat and that it has the same therapeutic populations.

Because Tulsi is considered sacred

In India and Nepal tulsi plays the dual role of a sacred and medicinal plant . According to the Hindu religion, in fact, Tulsi is a plant sacred to the God Vishnu and his incarnations: an ancient myth tells that every year the God would join the plant in marriage , during the autumn equinox.

Sacred basil embodies Lakshmi , bride of Vishnu, goddess of beauty, prosperity, luck and fertility.
For this reason, branches of Tulsi are sold near the temples for use in blessing rites and in those dedicated to the dead.

Tulsi properties for health and contraindications

From a medicinal point of view, tulsi is considered an effective remedy for various ailments .
Sacred basil contains active compounds such as essential oil, ursolic acid and flavonoids, including apigenin and leutoline, to which its properties are attributed.

The Ayurvedic medicine attributes to the sacred basil anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, digestive, expectorant, anti-stress and suggests a daily dose of one to two grams of dried drug.

Tulsi also has a hypoglycaemic and cholesterol lowering action : its intake is therefore able to reduce blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Sacred basil is considered a safe drug and has no particular side effects.

When and how to use Tulsi

The chopped leaves of sacred basil combined with honey are used to treat seasonal ailments including colds, coughs, bronchitis and to lower fever.

The infusion always obtained from the leaves is instead administered together with ginger to treat stomach pain and nausea, even in children


From the root of the Tulsi , a paste is obtained to be applied on insect bites to soothe pain, itching and redness, as well as an antidote against the bite of snakes and scorpions

The essential oil obtained by distillation from the leaves of sacred basil then has a disinfectant action and is able to remove mosquitoes and other insects.

Thanks to the antioxidant, antiseptic and purifying properties, Tulsi leaves are also used in the cosmetic sector to formulate creams, soaps and oils. The cosmetics based on Tulsi are particularly suitable in cases of acne, excess sebum and skin irritations.

In addition to boasting an ancient use as a medicinal plant, Tulsi is also used as a spice in some Far Eastern kitchens, especially in Thailand.

The sacred basil plants can be bought in most nurseries supplied while the dried leaves are easily found in all health food stores. Tulsi leaves are used to prepare infusions and aromatic oils.

by Abdullah Sam
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