Feature photo: Ocimum tenuiflorum (Common name – holy basil, tulsi) Photo: Sudhir Ahluwalia
Let me present some verified facts on the medicinal properties of Holy basil.
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.
In the US, holy basil is permitted in dietary supplements. Its use in cosmetic products is included in the European Commission Health and Consumer Directorate lists under the “permitted” category. The extracts of the plant are used in skin-conditioning, emollient, and hair-conditioning products.
Ocimumosides A, B, and ocimarin are three compounds isolated from an extract of leaves of holy basil 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 too (Yanpallewar et al., 2004; and Siddique et al., 2007).
This is just a brief overview of the medicinal properties of this plant. For those who are interested in knowing more, here are some references: