Tulsi: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Ocimum tenuiflorum

Ocimum sanctum is commonly known as tulsi or Holy basil. It is an aromatic perennial plant that has a unique place in Ayurveda and the scripture of Hindus. In the Hindu religion, the Tulsi plant is grown near to their houses, mainly in the center of their courtyard. It is planted in small pots, and an area where the Tulsi plant is raised is known as VrindavanIt is known as the queen of herbs and mother medicine of nature in Vedic Bhagavata Purana. Many people give Tulsi importance as they believe that it is a living gateway between heaven and earth. All parts of the Tulsi plant is rich in essential bioactive ingredients, which have enormous health benefits.

Different varieties of Tulsi:

Tulsi is branched, erect, and a dwarf shrub that has a woody base. Tulsi grows about 24 inches in height with hairy stems. Tulsi has green-colored and toothed margin leaves with possess a strong odor.

Ram Tulsi: This variety has a bright green leaf. The leaf of ram tulsi is egg-shaped, thin, 1-2 inches long, situated opposite each other on the stem. The leaves are simple blunt, and irregular contains serrated margins. This variety is also known for its intense aroma.

Krishna Tulsi: In this Tulsi variety, the leaves are purple greenish. They are 3-4 inches long with broadness around 1- 2 inches with narrow margins. This variety has a strong taste and smell.

Van tulsi: This tulsi variety has dark green leaves and since it is mainly found in wild or van tulsi. The other name of this variety is forest tulsi.

Source of Ocimum tenuiflorum 

Tulsi is widely found in the Southeast Asian tropics, and it is also native to the Indian subcontinent. 

Chemical components of Ocimum tenuiflorum 

The Ocimum tenuiflorum comprises essential bioactive or phytochemical components such as oleanolic acid, rosmarinic, ursolic acid, eugenol, carvacrol, linalool, and β-caryophyllene.

The composition of Major constituents of fresh and dried Tulsi leaves given in below table,

Constituents% w/w in Fresh leaves% w/w in Dried leaves
Eugenol576
β- caryophyllene1518
β-elemene711
Germacrene D93
Caryophyllene oxide329

Other Names for Ocimum tenuiflorum 

  • In Hindi, it is known as Tulsi.
  • In Marathi, it is known as Tulshi.
  • In English, it is known as Holy basil.
  • In Malayalam, it is known as Sivatulasi.
  • In Tamil, it is known as Thulasi.
  • In Telugu, it is known as Thulasi Aakulu.

Health Benefits of Ocimum tenuiflorum

  • Tulsi has several therapeutic benefits and actions, including adaptogenic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, cardioprotective, and immunomodulatory.
  • Tulsi formulations help relieve cough and cold because of their antimicrobial, antitussive (cough-relieving), anti-allergic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Tulsi has a potent adaptogenic property, meaning that Tulsi can help adapt to the body stresses and further boost energy. 
  • Tulsi is used as an alternative medicine to treat anxiety, fatigue, and stress.
  • Tulsi is used in many herbal formulations, helping in the treatment of asthma, colds, bronchitis, and flu.
  • The juice and decoction from Tulsi are beneficial for treating seasonal flu and influenza, which contains a mixture of ingredients such as Tulsi, ginger, kalimirch, and lemon juice.
  • Tulsi is a perfect immunomodulating agent, and thus it helps in preventing asthmatic symptoms.
  • Tulsi leaf extract is rich in anticonvulsant and anxiolytic agents.
  • Tulsi can help fight infections for reducing fever, which is possible due to its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
  • There are different forms of Tulsi products such as tinctures, capsules, herbal tea, powders, and it is already included in most peoples’ diet.
  • There is scientific evidence that shows that tulsi may help in relieving anxiety which further improves moods. Tulsi capsules twice a day for 60 days can significantly reduce anxiety, stress, and depression levels.
  • Lutein is a powerful antioxidant form of carotenoid, which is very important for eye health. 
  • A research study showed that Tulsi supplements could help reduce cholesterol-lowering due to their potent antioxidant effects.
  • Tulsi supplements are helpful in detoxifies the body, and they also possess diuretic properties. 
  • Tulsi herbal formulations help decrease uric acid levels in the body, which helps avoid kidney stones related problems.
  • Due to many phytochemicals in Tulsi, which possess solid antioxidant properties, they help protect from skin, lung, liver, and oral cancers.

Role of Tulsi extract components (Ocimumosides A and B) in the reduction of stress levels

Ocimumosides A and B help in the reduction of stress. They help in balancing the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine levels. During stress, there is an increase in adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secretion, which directly relates to increases cortisol levels or stress hormones in the body. These two major bioactive components of Tulsi reduces the level of cortisol to further management of stress-related issues. Different combinations of supplements also contain Tulsi extracts, and they can help promote stress relief and energy.

Traditional Uses of Ocimum tenuiflorum 

  • Tulsi leaf extracts are known to possess excellent medicinal benefits, due to which they are traditionally used for the treatment of rheumatism, bronchitis, and pyrexia.
  • The therapeutic uses of Tulsi supplement include treatment of asthma, epilepsy, dyspnea, cough, hiccups, skin and hematological diseases, neuralgia, parasitic infections, wounds, headache, and inflammation.
  • Traditionally Tulsi tea has been taken daily due to its calming effect, which helps reduce stress.
  • The roots and stems of Tulsi plants are traditionally used in treating snake bites and malaria.
  • A drop of Tulsi leaf juice is used during earache problems. 
  • A mixture of Tulsi leaves, along with honey and ginger, is very effective in treating asthma, bronchitis, cough, influenza, and cold.
  • The fresh juice of Tulsi, along with black pepper, helps cure periodic fevers. 
  • Tulsi extracts are applied to ringworm infection.
  • Eugenol in Tulsi extract, which belongs terpene family, has pain-relieving properties, and thus it helps reduce aches in the body.

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Recommended Dosage of Ocimum tenuiflorum 

The ayurvedic dosage of Ocimum tenuiflorum varies according to its variants:

ProductsPreparationDosage/ Day
Juice or pasteTake tulsi leaves and make a paste or juice of them. Then add honey to it. It is used for acne and scars.One time
TabletThe tablet is prepared from Tulsi leaf or seed extract. It is taken with enough water.Two times.
CapsulesThe Tulsi capsule is taken with enough water before meals. Two times.
OilTulsi seed oil is mixed with an equal amount of coconut oil, and then it is applied to the scalp for treating dandruff.Three times a week
ToothpasteTake sun-dried Tulsi leaves, grind them to make a fine powder. Take one teaspoon of Tulsi powder and mix it with a half teaspoon of mustard oil. Use the mixture for brushing teeth.Two times

Precautions and side effects of Ocimum tenuiflorum 

  • Use of an excess amount of Tulsi may lower blood sugar. Therefore, it is used with proper precautions for people suffering from diabetes and people on medication.
  • For breastfeeding women, Tulsi should be taken under medical supervision.
  • The women who are trying to get pregnant should not take Tulsi. It may affect reproductive capacity.
  • There is observation in peoples feeling nausea or diarrhea when they introduce Tulsi tea to their diet. Therefore, it is always recommended to start with small quantities.
  • Tulsi supplements might prolong the bleeding time, so it is recommended for patients with bleeding disorders to consult a medical practitioner.
  • There is not much scientific evidence available, but there is a saying that Tulsi may have anti-spermatogenic and antifertility effects.

FAQs

Is Tulsi helpful in treating fever?

Yes, Tulsi is beneficial in treating seasonal fever. Tulsi extract or supplements provides immunomodulatory and antimicrobial property, which helps enhance the immune system. The antipyretic and diaphoretic activity of Tulsi supplements helps to induce sweating to normalize the elevated body temperature during fever.

Can Tulsi reduce Diabetic problems?

Yes, Tulsi supplements help manage diabetes-related complications. There is research available that suggests that Tulsi has a hypoglycemic effect, which helps increase insulin secretion, which further helps decrease the elevated blood glucose levels. 

Is Tulsi beneficial in treating Acne problem?

Yes, Tulsi is good skin and for controlling acne. Tulsi extract is composed of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory components, and they help reduce inflammation around acne after its application topically.

Summary

Tulsi’s scientific name is Ocimum sanctum. It is native to Southeast Asia. It is known as the queen of a medicinal herb plant, and it has a history within Indian medicine as it is used treatment of many diseases. Tulsi or holy basil is used as a tonic for the body and refreshing mind.

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Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a health care professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.