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Holy Basil / Tulsi - The Purifying Plant

Updated: May 25, 2021

Surrasa Plant Series #1: Tulsi


Botanical Name: Ocimum sanctum

Synonyms: Holy Basil, Basil Tulsi, Tulasi

As we all know, the primary function of the skin is to act as a barrier. Our skin guards us from external forces and pressure, including temperature, micro-organisms, radiation and harsh chemicals. As we age, skin changes and wrinkles appear; our skin can start to feel dry, and becomes thinner and loses fat. It might take longer to heal, too!

How can we tackle these changes head on? Are there natural ingredients that are proven to mitigate these changes without the use of unnatural chemicals and compounds?

Enter tulsi, or holy basil. This plant is traditionally referred to in Ayurvedic medicine as a purifier. It supports our immune and respiratory system, promotes emotional wellness, and stimulates clear skin. It is also said to open the heart and mind, and impart energy. Furthermore, this herb is known to support healthy circulation and a normal body temperature.

Let's get scientific. Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is a perennial or annual herb [1], and is common in many Eastern countries. The tulsi plant is known as the ‘Queen of Herbs’, and is often used as an energizer for the body, mind, and spirit.

The tulsi plant and its various parts are highly revered in parts of the world, and are advocated for healing many different ailments.

To keep things simple, we're going to refer to this plant as holy basil from now on. Got it? Alright, awesome.

Holy basil is one of the principal herbs used in the Ayurvedic medicine system. The WHO monograph - which is basically a documentation of medicinal plants - lists the holy basil's several different uses; these include the treatment of arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, common cold, diabetes, fever, influenza, peptic ulcer, and rheumatism [2]. Additionally, the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) [3] and the European Commission Health and Consumers Directorate [4] recognizes holy basil extract as possessing skin-conditioning functions, and O. Tenuiflorum oil (tulsi leaf wax) as an emollient (meaning, having the quality of softening or soothing the skin).

There are several studies supporting the use of the entire plant of holy basil for its remedial value [5]. Holy basil is known to provide vitamin A and C, calcium, zinc, iron, and chlorophyll. In fact, holy basil leaves contain antibacterial and antifungal compounds. A paste made of holy basil leaves along with sandalwood paste and rose water is often used to prevent inflammation.

Which parts of holy basil are used for what? This handy table below describes how each part of the plant is useful.

Our skin can really benefit from holy basil; the leaves can be eaten raw to purify the blood from toxins and prevent the appearance of acne and pimples. A toner made by boiling holy basil leaves in water can be used for acne to help reduce pimples and blemishes. Holy basil face packs can be used to clear scar marks, and obtain a cleaner and more even skin tone. Holy basil leaves are also commonly used to reduce itch and skin irritation.

Holy basil is also believed to be an immunity booster. Several clinical studies have clearly displayed its immune-enhancing effect - for example, in one study, investigators found that volunteers who had consumed holy basil extract had a statistically significant increase in their levels of Interferon-gamma, a protein critical to human immunity [6].

Holistically, the holy basil plant is known to be an adaptogen - this means it helps the body adapt to stress, and supports mental equilibrium! Scientific research shows that holy basil has pharmacological properties to help your mind cope with many types of stress. One study found that people who took about 500 milligrams (mg) of holy basil extract each day felt less anxious, stressed, and depressed [7]. Studies have shown that holy basil can act as a COX-2 inhibitor, and is helpful in mitigating chronic pain. Some active compounds found in holy basil specifically target and ameliorate inflammatory and neurological pain. Holy basil is also used in the treatment of ulcers, cuts, and wounds because of its beneficial antiseptic and healing properties.

In summary, holy basil is known to increase endurance, decrease stress, address sexual complications, alleviate sleep problems, improve memory, relieve exhaustion, and stimulate the mind, body and the spirit! In terms of how we can use holy basil in our daily lives, Ayurvedic practitioners advise using the leaves and drinking it as tea daily for mental clarity and relaxation. Holy basil can be taken as a pill form or as an alcohol extract as well. It's an amazing plant!

Yes, he's talking about holy basil.


Surrasa’s products contain holy basil extracts and oil, combined in an innovative formulation, based on a time-tested traditional method. It’s carefully and methodically blended with other active botanicals and herbs to bring out the beneficial properties of each herb.

Check out these Surrasa products that contain holy basil below!

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[1]: Mondal S, Mirdha BR, Mahapatra SC. The science behind sacredness of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn.). Indian J Physiol Pharmacol.


[2]: World Health Organization. Folium Ocimi Sancti. In: WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Volume 2. Geneva, Switzerland: World

Health Organization; 2002:206-216.

[3]: United States Pharmacopeial Convention. Holy Basil; Powdered Holy Basil; and Powdered Holy Basil Extract. Pharmacopeial Forum.


[4]: European Commission Health & Consumers Directorate. Cosmetic Ingredients and Substances (CosIng ® ) Database. Brussels, Belgium: European


[5]: Singh N, Hoette Y. Tulsi: The Mother Medicine of Nature. Lucknow, India: International Institute of Herbal Medicine; 2002.

[6]: Mondal S, Varma S, Bamola VD, Naik SN, Mirdha BR, Padhi MM, et al. Double-blinded randomized controlled trial for immunomodulatory

effects of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) leaf extract on healthy volunteers. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;136(3):452-456.

[7]: Bhattacharyya D, Sur TK, Jana U, Debnath PK. Controlled programmed trial of Ocimum sanctum leaf on generalized anxiety disorders. Nepal

Med Coll J. 2008;10(3):176-179.


Like many supplements, holy basil is not approved as a first-line treatment. Please consult your practitioner before taking tulsi. It may also interact with medications you’re already taking.

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