Common name:Common Basil, Holy basil, sacred basil, sweet basil, Thai basil (English), Garden basil, Ajaka, brinda, manjari, parnasa, patra-pushpa, suvasa tulasi ( Sanskrit ), Tulsi, tulasi, baranda, kala tulsi, Tulsi and Thulasi.
Botanical name: Ocimum tenuiflorum ( previously known as Ocimum sanctum).
Family: Labiatae, the mint family.
Latin name: Ocimum basilicum.
Family: Laminaceae (mint family).
Chemical Constituents- Ursolic acid, apigenin, and luteolin are the biologically active compounds isolated from the leaves of Ocimum. The other chemical constituents are oleanolic acid, carvacrol, rosmarinic acid, eugenol, linalool, β-elemene (11%), β-caryophyllene (8%) and germacrene D (2%)
Habitat: The plant grows well in rich moist soils with plentiful sunlight and is native to the tropical areas of Asia.
The Plant- is an upright and a shrubby, branched herb, growing to up to the height of about 60 cm. The holy basil has red and green forms.
The leaves are rounded with little hairs spread al over the surface. The taste of leaves is hot and little bitter but It is light to be digested.
Flowers - purplish or red.
Description: Basil is a low-growing (30-100 cm), annual plant. The stem is square, slightly hairy and ovate. The leaves are slightly toothed and of variegated color ranging from from bright green to somewhat dark purple. The flowers also vary in color from red, white or pink and appear along the axle of the leaf, during the months of August and September.
Useful components: Cineol, camphor, estragole, linalool, eugenol, pinene etc.
Parts used: Leaves, seed.
Cultivation- It is a tropical plant, but it grows as a weed and can be cultivated too. The plant is mainly the native of South Asia, but it has been grown in flower pots in the UK.
Different parts of Ocimum sanctum Linn including leaves, flowers, stem, roots, seeds and the whole plant. The traditional system of medicines recommends it for the treatment of dysentery, malaria, arthritis, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, skin diseases, diarrhea, dysentery, eye diseases, insect bite, chronic fever etc.
It possess anticancer, anti-fertility, anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, cardio-protective, anti-fungal, hepato-protective, anti-emetic, adaptogenic, antispasmodic, analgesic, and diaphoretic properties.
The active constituent present in Ocimum sanctum L is Eugenol ( 1-hydroxy-2-methoxy-4-allylbenzene ), which is responsible for its therapeutic actions. During the last few decades, the scientific basis of therapeutic uses of this plant has been established by the pharmacological studies.
It is a healing herb and its leaves, seeds and even the whole plant is useful. It increases the immunity and metabolic functions and is effective in respiratory problems.
Antimicrobial effects –The oil acts against viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It inhibits the growth of M.tuberculosis, E Coli, B anthracite etc. Its anti-tubercular potency is one-tenth of streptomycin. The basil or Ocimum extract reduces the course of illness, its symptoms and in the patients having viral encephalitis and viral hepatitis.
Antimalarial effects – The oil shows 100% larvicidal activity against the culex mosquitoes. It has excellent antimalarial and insecticidal properties against mosquitoes. The mosquito repellent action lasts for about two hours.
Anti-allergic and Immuno-modulatory effects - The oil has shown anti-allergic properties in laboratory animals. In the presence of an allergen, it inhibits the cell degranulation and the release of histamine. This proves its effectiveness in allergies, asthma, and immunological disorders.
Antifertility effects– Ursolic acid, the major constituent of Ocimum leaves shows anti-fertility effects, devoid of side effects. This is due to anti-estrogen effect responsible for arresting the spermatogenesis in rats, and inhibitory effect on implantation of an ovum in mice.
Anti-diabetic effect -The trial on human volunteers suffering from Type II diabetes was conducted. They were given 2.5 g of basil leaf powder for two weeks. Both the fasting blood glucose and postprandial blood glucose level was found to be reduced.
Heart ailments - The basil has a positive effect on blood pressure and the regular use prevents heart attacks. Mix 1 gm of dry leaves with honey and a spoonful of butter and take it first in the morning before the breakfast and then at night before going to bed. The tea made of basil leaves regulates the blood pressure.
Other effects - The paste of leaves is used against the diseases caused by the parasites, the skin diseases, nd fever. The leaf juice is given to kids during catarrh and bronchitis.
Anti-stress or Adaptogenic effects - The plant extracts reduce the stress.
Ocimum is taken in the form of spice, juice, gel, paste or in raw form.
Consuming 10 to 12 leaves a day reduces the stress.
The gel penetrates deep into the layers of the skin and regenerates the cells and has anti-ageing properties. So take two tablespoons of gel thrice a day.
It can dry up the tissue secretions by penetrating deep inside the tissues. The tissue restoration power of Ocimum helps in quick healing of sore muscles, sprains, psoriasis, bruises, burns, scalds and sunburn.
The leaf juice mixed with ginger is given to the kids with stomach aches.
The juice mixed with black pepper is used to treat the fever.
For chest infections, the juice is mixed with honey, ginger and onion juice.
It has anti-inflammatory properties and its external application on swollen parts helps to diminish the swelling and the pain.
It cures several skin disorders, including skin rashes and itching. The leaves are used in the treatment of infections, ringworm, and leucoderma.
Fresh juice of Ocimum leaves, when used as nasal drops, helps to relieve a headache and the diseases of head and neck.
The leaf is an adaptogen and acts as a nerve tonic against memory loss. It brings a mind-body balance and prevents stress-related problems.
Thepaste and juice of leaves help to reduce scars, acne, pimples and many skin diseases.
It helps in indigestion, constipation and intestinal parasites. The detoxification properties of Ocimum aids in digestion and cleanse the intestines. For this purpose, the juice of ocimum leaves is taken at least twice a day to observe drastic improvements.
Crushed leaves are very effective in cough, fever, bronchitis and other lung diseases. It helps in expectoration of excess mucous secretion.
It acts as a heart tonic and purifies the blood when taken as a drink with lemon juice or cardamom.
The consumption of seeds are effective against premature ejaculation and increase the quantity of semen.
The researchers have proved that anti-oxidant properties of ocimum effectively reduces the type 2 diabetes in combination with hypoglycemic drugs and also in total decrease in blood cholesterol levels.
The immune system is strengthened by the anti-oxidant properties of ocimum. Acidity and toothache are taken care of by it.
It also protects from cataracts and radiation poisoning. Because the anti-oxidant properties repair the cells which get damaged by exposure to radiations.
The ocimum oil has shown cardiac protective and anti-hyperlipidemic effects in rats fed on a high fat diet.
During trials, the alcoholic extract of ocimum has shown that ocimum modulates immunity and promotes it.
β-Elemene present in ocimum has shown anti-cancer effects, but the results on human trials are still awaited.
Ocimum leaf juice is also an effective treatment against snake bites.
The scent from the plant deters the insects. The flies, including mosquitoes, which spread diseases like malaria etc get deterred from landing on those people who had bathed in ocimum water. The antibacterial properties of ocimum soothes the skin.
The oil extract contains high levels of eugenol with anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties which kills the bacteria and deters the insects. This explains why ocimum can treat pains causing intestinal spasms, kills germs and provides protection against insect bites. It helps in curbing the inflammation diseases like arthritis and cancer. This anti-inflammatory property reduces the swelling of bones and joints. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are due to rosmarinic acid found in ocimum.
The ursolic acid present in ocimum provides protection to those enzymes in the liver which break down the dietary fats. This is significant because the diabetic patients often report high level of cholesterol in blood.
The basil leaf tea saves from cough and colds and is an energy drink.
The herbal medicines are sometimes viewed as complementary medicine taken with other medicine.
But herbal medicines may sometimes interact with other medicines and may cause adverse reactions. So it is always good to consult the doctor.
The Ocimum or the basil application on the skin may cause allergic reactions to sensitive people.
© 2013 Sanjay Sharma