Holy basil

Ocimum sanctum

An aromatic, perennial shrub growing up to 1m (3.4ft) in height. The stems are square and hairy, toothed and opposite up the stem. The flowers are small, tubular and white to purple in colour. The fruitlets produce many seeds in nutlets.

Family: Laminaceae

Which probiotic is it in?: Holy basil is a key herb in Women

Habit and cultivation: Native to the Indian subcontinent, Holy basil now grows in most places in the world. Found in most traditional Hindu homes as a pot plant. Grows well in moist soil, with high rainfall and humid conditions. Grown from seed and harvested when in full bloom to obtain a maximum, high quality essential oil.

Actions (known for): Adapotgen, anti-depressant, anti-bacterial, diaphoretic, antiseptic, relaxant, febrifuge.


Next to the Lotus, Holy basil is the most sacred plant of India, having the quality of pure Sattva (purity and wisdom). Tulsi is the Hindu word for basil. Used for over 5,000 years in Ayurvedic medicine, it is given to someone passing to guide their souls from the world. Forgiveness of the plant must be asked before harvest. The woody stem of the plant is used in the making of mala beads (prayer beads). Traders bought basil along the the route to Europe where it became sacred to the Christians, who used it in offerings and rituals.

Parts used:


Constituents (bio available chemicals):

Volatile oils. Saponins. Polysaccharides. Glycosides. Tannins. Alkaloids. Ascorbic acid. Carotene. Eugenol. Methyl eurenol. Linaloool, Apigein, Orietin and Vicenin.

Nutritional constituents:

Vitamins: A and C. Minerals: Calcium, zinc, iron, chlorophyll.


Colds, cough, sinus congestion, headaches, arthritis, rheumatism, fevers, digestive bloating.


Traditionally infused into Ghee. Capsule: 300-2,000mg per day for preventative purposes. As a treatment 600-1,800mg taken 3 x daily. You can make tea from the whole plant using 2-3 tsp of herb in hot not boiling water. Tincture: 40-60 drops 2-4 x daily.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

Cautions for therapeutic doses

Not to be used by couples trying to conceive, nor to pregnant or nursing mothers. Not to be used when taking warfarin and a caution for insulin dependent diabetics.

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