Basil: Types, Nutrition, Health Benefits, Medicinal Uses and Side Effects

Basil or holy basil is a shrub which is being used in Ayurveda for many years. Basil in Hindi is known as Tulsi. Its botanical name is Ocimum Sanctum or Ocimum Basilicum. Hundreds of variety of it confuse which one is real and original. Indian medicine system believes Occimum sanctum is real basil which has been described in Ayurveda literature, but as basil has spread all over the world, its hybrid form, Ocimum Tenuiflorum,  is more common in Europe and outside Asia.  All basils belong to Labiatae family.

Tulsi is hot in nature and usually used in winter season as medicinal purpose. Opposite to that basil seeds are cold in nature and used to detoxify the body in summer. Tulsi seeds soaked in water are gelatinous in nature.

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Types of basil:

There are several verities of basil. Some common forms are:

  • Genovese
  • Dark opal
  • Lemon
  • Holy
  • Spicy globe
  • Cinnamon

Nutritional value:

  • 100 gm of Tulsi contains only 33 calories.
  • It is a rich source of vitamins. 100 gm of it provides 2000 IU of vitamin A and 20 mg of vitamin C which is 30% and 20% of daily requirement of vitamins respectively. It also provides other vitamins such as vitamin B complex, vitamin E and vitamin K. Availability of vitamin K makes it very beneficial in heart and blood disorder.
  • 100 gm of it provides the vast and complete profile of minerals too. It provides rich amount of calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc etc.
  • The aromatic smell of Tulsi is due to its essential oils. These essential are in different propitiation in different basils. Holy basil contains the maximum amount of essential oils.
  • It is rich in anti-oxidants.
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Basil health benefits:

1.      Basil and arthritis:

It is used to treating anti-inflammatory reaction in the body. Key factors for the anti-inflammatory property are essential oil and the phenolic compound. Anti-inflammatory reaction of it shows the similar pattern as morphine. So due to these properties, it is used in rheumatic arthritis, osteoarthritis.

2.      For diabetes:

Clinical studies suggest basil leaves and basil seeds reduce blood sugar level. Exact physiology of this is not clear but some researchers believe fiber and cinnamic acid contents of it are responsible to lower blood sugar level.

3.      Basil and heart attack:

Cinnamic acid presents in basil leaves helps to increase blood circulation and decrease the process of plaque formations, thus decrease the chances of heart attack.

4.      In cholesterol:

Clinical trial on rodent supports that, basil diet reduces LDL without affecting HDL in the body.

5.      In blood pressure:

The study conducted on rodent, supports that basil extract lowers blood pressure. The key factor behind this is still unknown but some scientists believe that Eugenol presents in Tulsi prevents capillary tightening thus prevents hypertension. More clinical study is required on the study of rodent.

6.      In cancer:

Phytochemical such as eugenol, luteolin, and beta-sitosterol can prevent cancer. Anti-oxidants also plays important role in preventing cancer and the side-effects of radiation and chemotherapy. Basil tea twice a day is always a good choice during chemotherapy.

7.      Works as antibiotics:

Tulsi is a natural antibiotic. Volatile oil of it improves immunity and inhibits bacterial growth in the body. Studies suggest that extract of basil is effective in antibiotic resistance infection.

8.      In stress & anxiety:

It affects the body in the same way as diazepam and anti-depression medicines do. Studies support that people who consume a good amount of fresh Tulsi less suffer from stress and anxiety.

9.      For malaria fever:

Ayurveda literature describes Tulsi as drug of choice for malaria fever and relapsing fever. Modern scientists also support this.

10. In kidney infection:

It is diuretic in nature. It kills pathogen and detoxifies the body at the same time. Basil juice is rich in citric acid which is good for the breakdown of kidney stone. It also reduces uric acid and urea in blood thus prevents future kidney stone and infection.

11. In worm infection:

Ayurveda uses Tulsi for the treatment of intestinal worms. What exact content of it kills worms is still unknown.

12. In skin infection:

Anti-bacterial properties of Tulsi make it a good choice for beauty regime and skin infection treatment. Face pack and face mask of it is good for acne. Clinical experiences also support that supplement of Tulsi put positive effects in skin infection, wound healing and recovery from the operation.

Moreover, researches done on the fish, support that basil extract is capable to reduce the growth of fungus. There is still a lack of evidence on the human.

13. For cough:

It is natural expectorant. It is one of must add a component of cough syrup.

14. In insect bite:

Phenolic component of it neutralizes chemical of insect bite.

basil health benefits

How to use:

  1. Decoction
  2. Tea
  3. Dry powder
  4. Fresh crush juice
  5. Market available packed juice
  6. Extract capsule or tablet

Holy basil side effects:

All parts of the plant are used for medicinal purpose and all parts are edible. There is no specific side effect recorded from it. But as Tulsi contains medicinal properties it can cause some serious health problems such as Internal uses of it for a diabetic or hypertensive person along with anti-diabetic or anti-hypertensive medicine can cause sudden fall in blood glucose level or blood pressure.


Above article is only for knowledge purpose. Please contact your healthcare provider before using any of the above medicine or method. for any query or personal consultation according to your health condition please contact us.

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