Botanical name: Ocimum sanctum
Other names: Holy basil, Tulasi, Divya
Part used: Leaves
Taste (rasa): Pungent, bitter
Characteristic (guna): Dry, light
Energy (veerya): Heating
Post digestive effect (vipak): Pungent
Dosha effect: VK-, P+
Action (karma): Alleviates fevers, diaphoretic, benefits breathing and alleviates coughing, enkindles the digestive fire, specific affinity for the heart, alleviates skin disorders, alleviates dysuria (seed), expectorant, febrifuge, antispasmodic, antibacterial, nervine, carminative, aromatic.
Dose: 1-9 grams per day
Contraindications: In respiratory infections with high pitta without other cooling herbs. No drug-herb interactions are known, however, there is theoretical evidence that its eugenol content may deplete glutathione from the liver. Therefore caution should be used in patients using glutathione-depleting medication such as paracetamol.As its botanical name implies it is considered a very sacred plant. It is high in sattva, imparting the quality of lightness and spiritual clarity.
Lungs: Tulsi clears kapha and mucous from the respiratory tract. Its action on rasa dhatu helps treat fevers and flu by encouraging sweating and therefore bringing the temperature down. It is used in asthma, bronchitis, rhinitis and other respiratory allergies. Tulsi has been shown to increase vital lung capacity and reduce laboured breathing. Tulsi specifically increases prana and the vital life force. Its pungency and penetrating nature clears the dampness and toxic ama that can cause chest infections and fevers. It is used in all fevers, regardless of their cause.
Digestion: Its aromatic pungency helps to move vata through the intestines and calms a fermentive digestive tract. It increases appetite and is a good warming stimulant to the digestion. It stimulates the digestive fire and can help to reduce weight, blood sugar and total cholesterol levels.
Nerves: Used as a mild nervine for heightening awareness and mental clarity. A tea of the leaves is also used for tension headaches and high vata and from congestion headaches from excess kapha.
Heart: Its affinity for rasa dhatu helps to increase circulation through the heart where there is congestion from high vata and kapha.
Ref: ‘Ayurvedic Medicine’ by Sebastian Pole; ‘Ayurvedic Pharmacology & Therapeutic Uses of Medicinal Plants’ by Vaidya V.M. Gogte; ‘Yogi of Herbs’ by V. Lad & D. Frawley.