Holy Basil is an Annual: Frost-hardy. The only Basil we know of which self-seeds and may be readily direct seeded. Valued plant of the Ayurvedic tradition, highly aromatic, with a volatile hint of camphor. The essential oil contains 70% eugenol.
Easy. Germ in about 7 days. Sow in greenhouse or in pots on the windowsill and transplant out to the garden when the weather has settled into summer.
Ocimum sanctum (holy basil), called Tulsi in India, is ubiquitous in Hindu tradition. Perhaps its role as a healing herb was instrumental in its "sacred" implication. Ayurvedic practice recommends Tulsi in several formulations to enhance immunity and metabolic functions as well as in the management of respiratory problems.
A variety of biologically active compounds have been isolated from the leaves including ursolic acid, apigenin and luteolin. Extracts from the plant have been found to reduce stress. Ursolic acid, (which is an active constituent in the antioxidant rosemary extract as well), was found to have antiallergic properties.
Historical & Traditional Uses:
In India, basil is dedicated to Vishnu and is regarded as the incarnation of his wife, Lakshmi, goddess of fortune and beauty. Tulsi is also called upon for life and death, for various acts of life and above all for giving children to those who want them. According to tradition, Holy Basil protects from unfortunate destinies and evil spirits.
The leaf infusion or fresh leaf juice is commonly used in
- mild upper respiratory infections,
- stress-related skin disorders and
It is combined with ginger and maricha (black pepper) in bronchial asthma. It is given with honey in bronchitis and cough. The leaf juice is taken internally and also applied directly on cutaneous lesions in ringworm. The essential oil has been used in ear infections. The seeds are considered a general nutritious tonic.
Holy Basil would be wonderful for meditation as it is said to aid with anxiety, hysteria and nervous depression. Personally, (as I love Basil) it had a very soothing and calming effect on me from 'first sniff'.
Anti-fungal and antibacterial. Used in treatment of ringworm, malaria and dysentery.
May be a strong skin irritant and should be used in very low dilutions.
S. Arctander - Perfume & Flavor Materials of Natural Origin
B. Lawrence - Perfumer & Flavorist 1980/2004
S. Battaglia - The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy