Skip to main content



This article is about the plant called Tulsi (Holy Basil). For the Indian poet, see Tulsidas.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Ocimum
Species: O. tenuiflorum
Binomial name
Ocimum tenuiflorum

Ocimum sanctum
Ocimum tenuiflorum (also tulsi, tulasī, or Holy Basil) is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae which is native throughout the Old World tropics and widespread as a cultivated plant and an escaped weed.[1] It is an erect, much branched subshrub 30-60 cm tall with hairy stems and simple opposite green leaves that are strongly scented. Leaves have petioles, and are ovate, up to 5 cm long, usually slightly toothed. Flowers are purplish in elongate racemes in close whorls.[2] There are two main morphotypes cultivated in India—green-leaved (Sri or Lakshmi tulsi) and purple-leaved (Krishna tulsi).[3]
Tulsi is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes, and for its essential oil. It is widely known across South Asia as a medicinal plant and an herbal tea, commonly used in Ayurveda, and has an important role within the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism, in which devotees perform worship involving Tulsi plants or leaves.
There is also a variety of Ocimum tenuiflorum which is used in Thai cuisine, and is referred to as Thai holy basil, or kraphao (กะเพรา)[4]—not be confused with "Thai Basil", which is a variety of Ocimum basilicum.

* 1 In Ayurveda
* 2 Thai cuisine
* 3 In Hinduism
* 4 Gallery
* 5 See also
* 6 Notes
* 7 External links

[edit] In Ayurveda
Tulsi flowers.

Tulasi has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda for its diverse healing properties. It is mentioned by Charaka in the Charaka Samhita,[5] an ancient Ayurvedic text. Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen,[6] balancing different processes in the body, and helpful for adapting to stress.[7] Marked by its strong aroma and astringent taste, it is regarded in Ayurveda as a kind of "elixir of life" and believed to promote longevity.[8]
Tulasi’s extracts are used in ayurvedic remedies for common colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria. Traditionally, tulsi is taken in many forms: as herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf, or mixed with ghee. Essential oil extracted from Karpoora Tulsi is mostly used for medicinal purposes and in herbal cosmetics, and is widely used in skin preparations due to its anti-bacterial activity. For centuries, the dried leaves of Tulsi have been mixed with stored grains to repel insects.[9]
Tulasi or Tulasi is the most sacred plants for Hindus and they believe that water mixed with Tulasi petals should be given to the dying in the end to raise their departing souls to heaven.
Recent studies suggest that Tulsi may be a COX-2 inhibitor, like many modern painkillers, due to its high concentration of eugenol (1-hydroxy-2-methoxy-4-allylbenzene).[11][12] One study showed Tulsi to be an effective treatment for diabetes by reducing blood glucose levels.[13] The same study showed significant reduction in total cholesterol levels with Tulsi. Another study showed that Tulsi's beneficial effect on blood glucose levels is due to its antioxidant properties.[14] Tulsi also shows some promise for protection from radiation poisoning[15] and cataracts.[16]
Some of the main chemical constituents of Tulsi are: Oleanolic acid, Ursolic acid, Rosmarinic acid, Eugenol, Carvacrol, Linalool, and β-caryophyllene.[6]
[edit] Thai cuisine
Closeup of Tulsi leaves.
The leaves of holy basil, known as kraphao in the Thai language (กะเพรา), are commonly used in Thai food.[17] Thai holy basil (Thai: kraphao / กะเพรา) should not be confused with horapha (Thai: โหระพา), which is normally known as Thai basil,[17] or with Thai lemon basil (Thai: แมงลัก).
The best-known dish made with this herb is Phat kraphao (Thai: ผัดกะเพรา)—beef, pork or chicken stir fried with Thai holy basil.
[edit] In Hinduism
Tulsi, which is english for "the incomparable one", is worshiped throughout India, most often regarded as a consort of Krishna in the form of Lakshmi.[18][19] According to Brahma Vaivarta Purana She is the expansion of Sita.[20] There are two types of Tulsi worshiped in Hinduism - "Rama Tulsi" has light green leaves and is larger in size; "Shyama Tulsi" has dark green leaves and is important for the worship of Hanuman.[21] Many Hindus have Tulsi plants growing in front of or near their home, often in special Tulsi pots. It is also frequently grown next to Hanumantemples, especially in Varanasi.[22]
In the ceremony of Tulsi Vivah, Tulsi is ceremonially married to Krishna annually on the eleventh bright day or twelfth of the month of Kartika in the solar calendar. That day also marks the end of the four month cāturmāsya period, which is considered auspicious for weddings and other rituals, and so the day inaugurates the annual marriage season in India. The ritual lighting of lamps each evening during Kartika includes the worship of the Tulsi plant, which is considered auspicious for the home. Vaishnavas especially follow the daily worship of Tulsi during Kartika.[23]
Vaishnavas traditionally use japa malas made from tulsi stems or roots, which are an important symbol of initiation. Tulsi malas are considered to be auspicious for the wearer, and believed to put them under the protection of Hanuman. They have such a strong association with Vaishnavas, that followers of Hanuman have long been called "those who bear the tulasi round the neck"
Vrinda-devi is an expansion of Srimati Sitarani and Her partial expansion is Tulasi in Vaikuntha.
Various appellations of the dark and light varieties of Tulsi — Tulasi, surasa, gramya, sulabha, bahumanjari, apetaraakshasi, gauri, shoolaghni and devadundubhi are some of the Sanskrit appellations of Tulsi, each one of which is significant.
One that has no equal, bears or tolerates no comparison, and so is beyond comparison - Tulasi The rasa or juice of which is best— Suras.
One that flourishes in open land especially in village areas — Gramya.
One that can be obtained easily — Sulabha.
One that bears many clusters of flowers, or inflorescences - Bahumanjari.
One from whose sight rakshasas and sins (which share the evil nature of rakshasas) flee - Apetaraakshasi.
The fair one, the light-coloured one (describing 1ighter coloured variety of Tulsi) — Gauri.
One that destroys (kills) pain—Shoolaghni.
One that gives pleasure to the gods, and so is pleasure-giving as the dundubhi drums — Devadundubhi.
The appellations and qualities of the Barbari variety of Tulsi : Barbari, Tuvari, Tungi, Kharapushpa, Ajagandhika and Parnsa are the Sanskrit appellations of Barbari Tulsi. But the darker variety of Barbari Tulsi is known as Kathinjar or Kutherak. The lighter-coloured variety of Barbari Tulsi is known as Arjak. There is a third variety, of Barbari Tulsi, which is known as Vatapatra. All the three varieties are dry, cool in effect and bitter in taste, cause a burning sensation, are sharp, stimulate appetite are beneficial to the heart, increase the powers of digestion, are easy to digest and stimulate the production of pitta. These varieties of Tulsi are therefore effective in curing excess of kapha, vata, toxaemia, itching and worms. They are also good antidotes for poisons.
The significance of the various names of the Barbari varieties of Tulsi is explained below :
One that accepts a large variety of different kinds of virtues - Barbari.
One whose juice is somewhat bitter, or one that destroys kapha, vayu and toxins - Tuvari.
One that destroys poisons, or one that grows to a great height - Tungi.
One that bears rough, hard flower clusters - Kharapushp.
One that possesses a smell resembling that of goats - Ajagandhika.
One that sheds leaves, or that has a beauteous appearance because of leaves - Parnasa.
One that helps the digestion of even hard materials because of its sharpness and capacity to stimulate digestion - kathinjar, the darker variety of Barbari Tulsi.
One that destroys kapha, vayu, etc. - Kutherak, the darker variety of Barbari Tulsi.
One that confers or acquires a fair complexion - Arjak, the lighter-coloured variety of Barbari Tulsi.
One whose leaves resemble the leaves of the banyan tree - VataPatra, the third variety of Barbari Tulsi.
Data from wikipedia