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Ocimum sanctum
(also known as Ocimum tenuiflorum)

Common Names
Holy Basil, Indian Basil, Sacred Basil, Tulasi, Thulasi, Tulshi, Thulsi, Manjari, Krishna Tulsi, and Trittavu.


Parts Used

Herbal Actions

Adaptogen, anti-microbial, anti-septic, digestive, nervine, antioxidant, antidepressant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, neuroprotective, radioprotective, immunomodulating, cardiovascular tonic, hepatoprotective, anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic.



Pungent, sweet, bitter, warm

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Holy Tulsi

Tulsi, Queen of Herbs, “the Incomparable One”, avatar of the goddess Lakshmi, Krishna Tulsi, Holy Basil, whichever name you call it this incredible herb is considered to be the holiest of all plants in Hinduism and is considered "the manifestation of god in the vegetable kingdom". The sacred Sanskrit text Devi Bhagavata Purana explains that Tulsi is an earthly manifestation of the goddess Lakshmi, who is the primary consort of Lord Vishnu. Devotees of Vishnu wear malas with beads made from Tulsi wood. In the ancient Vedic texts, the Tulsi plant is said to be a “threshold point between heaven and earth”, and helps in bringing people closer to the divine. Tulsi symbolizes purity and balance. In India, Hindus worship Tulsi daily and every home is said to have a potted Tulsi plant. A Hindu house is said to be incomplete without Tulsi growing from the courtyard. It is worshipped before your feet touch the ground in the morning and before you go to sleep at night. Its leaves are used in temples for spiritual purposes and also during marriage. Tulsi is believed to promote longevity and lifelong happiness. Every part of the Tulsi plant is considered sacred, even the soil around the plant is said to be holy.

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Tulsi, or Holy Basil is a member of the mint family and cousins with sweet basil. It is native to the Indian subcontinent and has naturalized throughout Southeast Asia. The plant is an erect, many-branched shrub, 12–24 in tall with hairy, square shaped stems. Leaves are green or purple depending on the morphotype, and are very aromatic. The scent is a mixture of cloves, licorice, peppermint and lemon. The leaves are usually about 2 in long and are simple, petioled, with an ovate blade with a slightly toothed margin. The purplish flowers grow close whorls on elongate racemes. There are three main types of Tulsi used today: Rama, Krishna and Vana or Forest Tulsi.

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Medicinal Use

Tulsi is primarily known as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are a group of herbs that support the body’s ability to adapt to stress and have a normalizing effect upon bodily processes. Adaptogens can be viewed as regulators of the stress response because they modify and balance the body whether there is an excess or deficiency. Adaptogens are sometimes called “energy tonics.” These tonics typically have a general effect on the entire body supporting multiple systems. Tulsi is very broad spectrum supporting many body systems including the circulatory (heart) system, nervous system, digestive system, immune system, detoxification (liver) system, and endocrine (hormone) system. It is also antimicrobial, helps regulate blood sugar, helps ease musculoskeletal pain and arthritis, supports lung function, and some of the most exciting new research shows the radioprotective properties of Tulsi for cancer patients undergoing radiation treatments.

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Below is an excerpt about Tulsi taken from an article written by herbalist Donnie Yance.
Click here to read his entire article:

Holy Basil: An Herb with Incomparable Benefits
by Donnie Yance


Modern research has confirmed dozens of holy basil’s traditionally known actions and therapeutic uses, including its remarkable adaptogenic and antistress activities as well as its powerful ability to support the immune system. I classify it as a secondary adaptogen (albeit my number-one secondary adaptogen). Holy basil modulates the stress response, increases adaptive energy, and specifically elevates and nourishes the “Vital Spirit.” Like ashwagandha, (another traditional Ayurvedic adaptogen) and eleuthro, holy basil is well suited for all energetic types. My philosophy is to combine many adaptogens and other complementary plant medicines to create a “gourmet meal” of herbs to improve and optimize health.
The therapeutic activities and effects of holy basil include:

  • Decreases incidence of gastric ulcer

  • Increases endurance

  • Lowers the stress-induced release of adrenal hormones and assists in the normalization of cortisol

  • Enhances endocrine function, increases physical performance

  • Reduces oxidative stress, modulates inflammation (COX-2 inhibition)

  • Protects the liver

  • Promotes eye health, anticatarrh

  • Normalizes blood pressure

  • Nourishes the cardiovascular system, inhibits platelet aggregation/ profound antiatherogenic effect, normalizes lipids

  • Balances blood sugar and insulin metabolism

  • Anticancer and antioxidative: protects against radiation and chemotherapy-induced damage

  • Anti-inflammatory: reduces COX-2 expression

  • Supports drug and nicotine withdrawal; normalizes the HPAA

  • Elevates mood and spirit: relieves mild forms of depression, especially when induced from stress, nourishes the vital spirit (heart), promotes cheerfulness, helps with processing grief and fear.

Therapeutic dosing range:

  • Standardized extract: ursolic acid (>2.50 percent), 200 to 500 mg daily

  • Fluid extract 1:1: 3 to 5 mL daily

  • Tea: 2 to 4 cups daily

With such a remarkable body of research proving the wide-ranging beneficial properties of holy basil, I consider it wise to include holy basil as an herb for daily use. Making a tea from the herb is a good way to enjoy the benefits—I suggest drinking two to three cups daily for general health support. Herbs that I often combine with holy basil include hawthorn, linden, hibiscus, dandelion leaf, and nettles.


Preparation & Dosage

Common preparations include Tulsi taken as an herbal tea, tincture, fresh leaf juice, poultice, or as a powder mixed with ghee or honey. 

  • Tea/Infusion 2-4 cups daily

  • Tincture (fresh herb 1:2) 40 – 60 drops, 2 – 3 times a day


Not for use during pregnancy or if you are trying to become pregnant. Tulsi may have an anti-fertility effect on both men and women. Use caution if currently taking blood thinners and diabetics using insulin.

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