Antiinflammatory Activity

Organic Health Protocol

Reduce Inflammation

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Ocimum sancium L., popularly known as "Tulsi" in Hindi and "Holy Basil" in English, is a widely known sacred plant of Hindus. Different parts of the plant have been claimed to be valuable in a wide spectrum of diseases (Singh ei al., 1996a). For instance, it is used for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, pain and fever in the Ayurvedic system of medicine (Godhwani ei al., 1987). Ocimum sancium is now intensively studied in order to prove these activities by pharmacological evidence.

A methanol extract and an aqueous suspension of O.sancium leaves inhibited acute as well as chronic inflammation in rats as tested by carrageenan-induced paw edema and granuloma pouch, respectively. In both test procedures, the anti-inflammatory response of methanol extract (500 mg/kg) was statistically equivalent to the response observed with 300 mg/kg of sodium salicylate. The methanol extract and the aqueous suspension showed a statistically significant antipyretic action. However, the antipyretic action was weaker and of shorter duration than that of 300 mg/kg of sodium salicylate. These effects may, at least in part, be attributed to inhibition of the biosynthesis of prostaglandins (Godhwani ei al., 1987).

O.sancium leaves and essential oil exhibited analgesic activity when studied with the hot plate, tail flick, acetic acid writhing and naloxone antagonism methods. No allied activities, e.g. antipyretic or CNS-depressant, were detected (Vohora and Dandiya 1992).

A 50% aqueous ethanol extract of dried and fresh leaves, and the volatile and fixed oils of O.sancium inhibited hind paw edema induced in rats by treatment with carrageenan, serotonin, histamine or PGE-2. The same extracts also showed anti-asthmatic activity against histamine- and acetylcholine-induced pre-convulsive dyspnea in guinea pigs (Singh and Agrawal 1991).

The anti-inflammatory activity of O.sancium was studied using the water soluble portion of an alcoholic leaf extract. The test method used was carrageenan-induced paw edema in rats. The anti-inflammatory effect was dose dependent, showing a 57% inhibition at a dose of 400 mg/kg i.p. (Table 5.3). The same level of inhibition was found with 80 mg/kg phenylbutazone. The ED50-value was 270 mg/kg and LD50 4850 mg/kg, respectively (Chattopadhyay ei al., 1994).

Also the fixed oil of O.sancium seeds has been screened for its anti-inflammatory potential. It possessed significant anti-inflammatory activity against carrageenan- and different other mediator-induced paw edemas in rats. On the basis of these findings it seems that O.sancium fixed oil may have the potential to inhibit both the pathways causing inflammation, i.e. cydooxygenase and lipoxygenase, of the arachidonic acid metabolism

Table 5.3 Anti-inflammatory activity of Ocimum sanctum leaf extract compared to phenylbutazone and saline control (Chattopadhyay et al., 1994)


Dose mg/kg i.p.

Percent inhibition

O. sanctum



















2 ml/kg


(Singh et al., 1996a). Later the same year it was found that the pharmacological activity of the fixed oil could be attributed to its triglyceride fraction or the fatty acids (Singh et al., 1996b). A year later it was determined that linolenic acid present in the fixed oil of O.sanctum has the capacity to block both the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways of the arachidonate metabolism (Singh and Majumdar 1997).

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