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Current Trends on Biotechnology & Microbiology

Short Communication(ISSN: 2641-6875)

Phytochemical Composition, Pharmacological Properties, and Therapeutic Applications of Ocimum Volume 3 - Issue 4

Harshita Dixit and Priti Mathur*

  • Amity Institute of Biotechnology, Amity University, India

Received:June 19, 2023;   Published:June 27, 2023

*Corresponding author:Priti Mathur, Amity Institute of Biotechnology, Amity University Uttar Pradesh, India

DOI: 10.32474/CTBM.2023.03.000171

Abstract PDF


Ocimum, commonly known as holy basil or tulsi, is a versatile plant that has been extensively studied for its medicinal properties. This literature review aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the current state of knowledge regarding the phytochemical composition, pharmacological properties, and therapeutic applications of Ocimum. The review encompasses a wide range of scientific studies, including in vitro, in vivo, and clinical trials, highlighting the potential of Ocimum as a source of novel therapeutic agents. The findings presented in this review contribute to a better understanding of the therapeutic potential of Ocimum and may inspire further research and development in this field.

Keywords: Ocimum sp; phytochemical composition; pharmacological properties


Ocimum, a member of the Lamiaceae family, is a genus of aromatic plants that has been traditionally used in various medicinal systems for centuries. The most extensively studied species include Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil), Ocimum sanctum (holy basil or tulsi), and Ocimum gratissimum (African basil). Ocimum species have attracted significant attention from the scientific community due to their diverse medicinal properties. This review aims to comprehensively analyze the current scientific knowledge on Ocimum, providing insights into its phytochemical composition, pharmacological properties, and therapeutic applications.

Phytochemical Composition of Ocimum

Ocimum species are known to be rich in bioactive compounds, including phenolic compounds, essential oils, flavonoids, tannins, and terpenoids. The phytochemical composition of Ocimum can vary significantly depending on factors such as geographical location, cultivation practices, and plant parts used [1]. These bioactive compounds are responsible for the diverse biological activities exhibited by Ocimum.

Phenolic Compounds

Phenolic compounds are abundant in Ocimum species and contribute to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ocimum basilicum has been found to contain phenolic acids such as rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid [2]. Ocimum sanctum is rich in eugenol, a phenolic compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. These phenolic compounds play a crucial role in the therapeutic potential of Ocimum.

Essential Oils

Ocimum species are known for their characteristic aroma, which is attributed to their essential oil content. The essential oils of Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum sanctum, and Ocimum gratissimum are primarily composed of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. Ocimum basilicum essential oil is rich in linalool, methyl chavicol (estragole), and eugenol. Ocimum sanctum essential oil contains eugenol, methyl eugenol, and β-caryophyllene [3]. These essential oils possess antimicrobial, anti- inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, contributing to the therapeutic potential of Ocimum.


Flavonoids, including kaempferol, quercetin, and apigenin, are present in varying amounts in different Ocimum species. These compounds exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer activities [4]. Flavonoids also play a role in the modulation of cellular signaling pathways, contributing to the therapeutic effects of Ocimum.


Tannins are polyphenolic compounds found in Ocimum species, known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties [5]. They have been implicated in the gastroprotective effects of Ocimum and contribute to its wound healing and antimicrobial activities.


Ocimum species contain various terpenoids, including ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, and rosmarinic acid. These compounds possess diverse pharmacological properties, including anticancer, antiinflammatory, and antioxidant effects [6]. Terpenoids contribute significantly to the therapeutic potential of Ocimum.

Pharmacological Properties of Ocimum

Antioxidant Activity

Ocimum extracts and essential oils have been extensively studied for their potent antioxidant properties [7]. The presence of phenolic compounds and flavonoids in Ocimum contributes to its ability to scavenge free radicals and protect against oxidative stress-related diseases [8]. In vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated the antioxidant effects of Ocimum, which contribute to its therapeutic potential.

Anti-inflammatory Effects

Ocimum exhibits remarkable anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting pro-inflammatory mediators and enzymes. Compounds such as eugenol, rosmarinic acid, and apigenin present in Ocimum contribute to its anti-inflammatory effects [9]. Experimental studies have shown the potential of Ocimum in the treatment of inflammatory conditions, including arthritis, colitis, and asthma.

Immunomodulatory Activity

Ocimum has been reported to modulate immune responses, including immune cell proliferation, cytokine production, and antibody responses. The immunomodulatory effects of Ocimum indicate its potential as an adjuvant therapy for immune related disorders [10]. Ocimum sanctum, in particular, has been extensively studied for its immunomodulatory effects and its ability to enhance immune responses.

Antimicrobial and Antiviral Properties

Ocimum extracts and essential oils possess broad-spectrum antimicrobial and antiviral activities against various pathogens. The bioactive compounds in Ocimum, such as eugenol, linalool, and thymol, exhibit significant antimicrobial effects against bacteria, fungi, and viruses [11]. Ocimum has been shown to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella species. It also demonstrates antiviral activity against viruses such as herpes simplex virus and influenza virus [12]. These findings have implications for the development of natural antimicrobial and antiviral agents.

Anticancer Potential

Several studies have investigated the anticancer properties of Ocimum, including its ability to inhibit tumor growth, induce apoptosis, and modulate signaling pathways involved in cancer development [13]. The bioactive compounds present, including ursolic acid, eugenol, rosmarinic acid, and apigenin, have shown promising anticancer effects in different cancer cell lines [14]. Ocimum extracts have also demonstrated potential in enhancing the efficacy of conventional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Therapeutic Applications of Ocimum

Cardiovascular Health

Ocimum has been reported to have cardioprotective effects, including the ability to reduce blood pressure, lower lipid levels, and improve endothelial function [15]. The antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties of Ocimum contribute to its potential applications in the prevention and management of cardiovascular diseases [16].

Neuroprotective Effects

Studies have shown that Ocimum exhibits neuroprotective effects, making it a potential therapeutic candidate for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases [17]. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Ocimum contribute to its neuroprotective potential

Diabetes Management

Ocimum extracts have demonstrated hypoglycemic effects by reducing blood glucose levels, enhancing insulin secretion, and improving insulin sensitivity [18]. These findings suggest that Ocimum may have potential applications in the management of diabetes.

Gastrointestinal Health

Ocimum has been traditionally used for gastrointestinal ailments and has shown gastroprotective effects in experimental models [19]. The presence of tannins and flavonoids in Ocimum contributes to its gastroprotective properties, making it a potential candidate for the treatment of gastric ulcers and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Respiratory Health

Ocimum sanctum has been traditionally used for respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Experimental studies have shown its bronchodilatory and anti-inflammatory effects, suggesting its potential applications in respiratory disorders.

Wound Healing

Ocimum extracts have demonstrated wound healing properties, including enhanced collagen synthesis, angiogenesis, and antimicrobial effects [20]. These properties indicate the potential of Ocimum in the management of wounds and skin infections.

Safety and Future Directions

Figure 1: Ocimum flowering stage.


Figure 2: Ocimum close look.


While Ocimum is generally considered safe for consumption, further studies are needed to evaluate its long-term safety profile and potential drug interactions. Additionally, clinical trials are necessary to validate the efficacy of Ocimum based interventions in humans. Further research is also warranted to explore the molecular mechanisms underlying the pharmacological effects of Ocimum and to identify the active compounds responsible for its therapeutic properties.


Ocimum, with its rich phytochemical composition and diverse pharmacological properties, holds significant promise as a source of novel therapeutic agents. The extensive research conducted on Ocimum highlights its potential in various therapeutic applications, including cardiovascular health, neuroprotection, diabetes management, and respiratory health. However, further investigations, including clinical trials, are necessary to validate the safety and efficacy of Ocimum based interventions. Overall, Ocimum represents a valuable resource in the field of natural medicine and holds great potential for the development of new therapeutic approaches.


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