Holy basil, also locally called tulsi, is the common name of Ocimum tenuiflorum. It is a popular Indian medicinal plant. The herb is mentioned in Charaka Samhita. There are monographs of O. tenuiflorum published in the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India (Vol. II, 1999, and Vol. IV, 2004), Unani Pharmacopoeia of India (Vol. V, 2008), Thai Herbal Pharmacopoeia (Vol. I, 1995), Vietnamese Pharmacopoeia (1st ed., 1983), and World Health Organization (WHO) Monographs (Vol. 2, 2002).

Most of these systems of medicine recommend the use of the Holy Basil to treat arthritis, respiratory ailments, fever, influenza, stomach ailments, etc. Tulsi is a common ingredient in many Ayurveda and Unani medicines.

Ocimumosides A, B, and ocimarin are three compounds isolated from the extract of holy basil leaves that were proven to have anti-stress effects. The anti-stress properties of the herb have been validated in multiple studies (Archana et al., 2002; Samson et al., 2006; Samson et al. (2007 and Ravindran et al., 2005). Its neuroprotective properties have been observed in multiple studies (Yanpallewar et al., 2004; Siddique et al., 2007).

The antioxidant properties of tulsi were observed by Subramanian et al., 2013) and), who also observed that it caused a reduction in oxidative stress in the brain. It has been seen that tulsi possessed an amelioration property when the sciatic nerve was cut to induce neuro-dysfunction in rats (Muthuraman et al., 2008). This property could have value in finding treatments for the dysfunctions caused by damage to the nerves.

The plant contains alkaloids, glycosides, phenols, saponins, tannins, terpenes, etc.

Additional reading:

Asian Herbs and their wondrous health-giving properties

Holy Herbs: Modern Connections to Ancient Plants

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