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Sweet Basil, Sabja or Tukmaria Seeds and Their Health Benefits

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has an interest in health, healthy foods, nutrition and home remedies.

A Young Basil Plant

A Young Basil Plant

Latin name: Ocimum basilicum
Common names: Sweet basil, Basil

Basil plant (Ocimum basilicum), which is native to India and other tropical countries of Asia, has been cultivated for over 5,000 years. It is important to note that basil or sweet basil is much different from tulsi or holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum). In India, the seeds of the sweet basil plant also go by the following names:

  • sabja
  • tukmaria
  • tukhmaria
  • falooda
  • selasih

Basil has been used to remedy over 100 different conditions in folk medicine—from fevers to acne to fungal infections. Sabja or tukmaria seeds are used in Ayurvedic and Siddha medicine in India as well as in Chinese medicine.

In Chinese medicine, basil has been used to alleviate kidney problems and gum ulcers. It is also been used to help reduce symptoms of earaches, rheumatoid arthritis, skin conditions, anorexia, malaria and menstrual irregularities.

Sabja or Basil Seeds

Sabja or Basil Seeds

Sabja or Sweet Basil Seeds on close-up

Sabja or Sweet Basil Seeds on close-up

Sweet Basil Plant Facts

The sweet basil plant has over 150 cultivated varieties. One variety, holy basil or Ocimum sanctum (also Ocimum tenuiflorum), is a much-revered plant. The plant is considered sacred and used in religious ceremonies in India.

Sweet basil is an annual herbaceous plant. It grows to be two to four feet in height and has light-green-colored, silky leaves which grow opposite each other. The flowers are white in color and bloom on a terminal spike.

What Are Sweet Basil Seeds?

The flowers produce small, teardrop-shaped, jet-black seeds. The seeds absorb water, swell to many times their original size and develop a gelatinous covering. They have a bland taste but are crunchy when chewed and provide a jelly-like, nutty feel and interesting bite.

Basil Seeds swell a lot on absorbing water

Basil Seeds swell a lot on absorbing water

Sabja vs. Chia Seeds

Though both sabja and chia seeds look almost similar when they are in their gelatinous form (when soaked in water, both types of seeds swell and form a gelatinous mass), they are different in many ways.

A Comparison of Sweet Basil and Chia Seeds

ParametersSabja, Basil, Tukmaria SeedsChia Seeds

Latin Name

Ocimum basilicum

Salvia hispanica

Seed Color

Totally black and teardrop-shaped

Mottled and colored grey, brown, black and white


Seeds swell much faster and larger than chia seeds

Much slower to swell and smaller than sabja seeds

A Comparison of Nutritional Content

 Sabja, Basil, Tukmaria SeedsChia Seeds










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How Sabja Seeds Swell on Soaking in Water

The Health Benefits of Sabja, Sweet Basil or Tukmaria Seeds

Extracted from:



inhibits oxidation

Prevent free-radical damage, reduce the risk of cancer and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.


inhibits cancer

Flavonoids provide cellular protection and protect chromosomes from radiation and free-radical damage.


inhibits viruses

as noted


see antibacterial

as noted


relives flatulence

Relieves digestive issues like flatulence, stomach cramps, indigestion, constipation, etc.


inhibits bacteria

Help to heal cuts, wounds and infections of the skin. The seeds can be crushed and applied topically as well.


inhibits microbes

as noted


smooth gut muscle relaxation

Relieve and soothe symptoms of whooping cough. Provides relief from respiratory problems like cold, cough, flu, etc.


reduces inflammation

Reduces the pain and swelling of arthritis and reduces the formation of plaque in the arteries.


inhibits fungus

as noted


increases breast milk production

as noted


aids digestion

Help to cleanse the body of toxins which are then eliminated in bowel movements. Help to relieve the symptoms of food poisoning like nausea and vomiting.

Additional Health Benefits

  • Improves Immunity: The plant contains many polyphenolic flavonoids like orientin and vicenin. The flavonoids vicenin, orientin and beta-carotene also fortify the body's defense system and increase immunity.
  • Essential Oils: The plant is rich in many essential oils like eugenol, citronellol, linalool, limonene, citral and terpineol. These provide antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Sweet basil contains high levels of beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin A and vitamin K and good amounts of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and folates.
  • Iron-Rich: Basil seeds are rich in iron and help to prevent anemia at 40% RDA per 100 grams.
  • Mood Boosting: Sabja seeds have a calming effect on the brain. They relieve stress, tension, mental fatigue, depression and migraines. They also aid in enhancing the mood.
Sabja Milkshake

Sabja Milkshake

How to Consume Sweet Basil Seeds

Basil seeds cool the body and protect it from heat stress and heatstroke. Once the seeds are soaked in water, they swell immensely. Consuming the seeds before meals helps to prevent overeating. The seeds can be added to lemon sherbet, milkshakes falooda or consumed on their own after soaking in water. Low in calories and free of cholesterol, the seeds may help to reduce weight.

Medicinal Uses and Methods of Consumption

  • Chewing: Chewing sabja or tukmaria seeds may reduce mouth ulcers and other infections of the mouth. The seeds also help fight plaque and cavities.
  • Cooking: Basil oil has antibacterial properties. Mixing a few drops of oil in salad dressing reduces bacteria and makes food safer to eat.
  • Drinking: Consuming a glass of soaked sabja seeds may prevent heartburn and relieves bloating due to incorrect eating habits.

A Healthy Sweet Basil Tea Recipe

A mixture of basil leaves with honey and ginger is useful for reducing the symptoms of bronchitis and asthma. Here's how to benefit:

  1. Add the basil leaves to a pot of water and boil.
  2. Grate ginger and add it to the boiling water.
  3. After boiling both ingredients together for a couple of minutes, take the pot off the heat and cool it for a while.
  4. Add honey to the mixture and drink for relief.


Pregnant women or those trying to conceive should not use basil since it may lower estrogen levels.

A Cooling Summer Drink With Sweet Basil or Sabja Seeds

Sweet Basil Nutritional Value

Source: USDA National Nutrient data base

 Nutrient Value (per 100 grams)Percentage RDA


23 Kcal



2.65 g



3.15 g


Total Fat

0.64 g



0 mg


Dietary Fiber

1.60 g






68 mcg



0.902 mg


Pantothenic acid

0.209 mg



0.155 mg



0.076 mg



0.034 mg


Vitamin A

5275 IU


Vitamin C

18 mg


Vitamin E

0.80 mg


Vitamin K

414.8 mcg






4 mg



295 mg






177 mg



385 mg



3.17 mg



64 mg



1.15 mg



0.81 mg






3142 mcg



46 mcg



5650 mcg


Plant Care and Propagation

Sweet basil grows best in a hot and dry climate and is very cold-sensitive. Though it prefers full sunlight, it can be grown indoors in pots. The leaves may wilt in full sunlight, but they can quickly recover with watering. Excess watering may lead to yellowing of the leaves lower down on the stem. This yellowing can also occur due to lack of or excess fertilizer.

The stems bearing the flower spikes can be pinched off if one needs the leaves or the foliage to keep growing. Once the flowers mature, foliage production stops on the stem and the stem turns woody.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly


Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 24, 2018:

RT sabja/basil seeds have been long used in India especially in beverages consumed in summer as they provide coolness. Thank you for being here and sharing your thoughts.

RTalloni on August 22, 2018:

Thanks so much for this look at basil seeds. I am looking at my plants with new eyes now and planning to harvest seeds that I've always just left for reseeding purposes before now.

abedullah on December 13, 2016:

Are all the basil seeds in water fluffs uniformly ?

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 08, 2016:

Thanks Kelly for the read and I hope this hub provided you with useful information.

Kelly A Burnett from United States on April 06, 2016:

Rajan Jolly,

I recently accepted a consulting job with a global agriculture firm and their number one item three times over is Basil.

As a chef, my skills are very limited, and my lack of knowledge of basil was tremendous.

Fantastic hub my friend, another great job. Thank you!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 19, 2015:

Ruby yes they will benefit in colitis Take 1 tsp seeds & soak in water overnight. In the morning drain off the water & mix with some yogurt & consume.

Ruby on November 11, 2015:

Thanks for the great info. Are these seeds good for colitis

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 07, 2015:

ellie, excess of anything can be harmful even good food. Moderation is the key everywhere.

ellie on March 06, 2015:

Is it possible to eat too many holy basil seeds? I has a big portion before bed, then a big portion for breakfast. They were delicious mixed in a smoothie. However, I ended up in the emergency room with severe stomach pain by lunch time. It could have been a stomach virus, or stomach ulcer. You seem so knowledgeable, just thought I would ask if you can eat too many? Thank you for all the great writing.

prasanna on February 24, 2015:

Good information thanks a lot

Monika on November 17, 2014:

A person/patient with single kidney can have Sabja seeds? Are there any side effects?

glynis on November 10, 2014:

so chia seeds are different from sabja seeds and can't be used in place of each other?

Parveen on November 07, 2014:

Very useful information!

archana on September 27, 2014:

Thankyou for information very useful.

Anita Saran from Bangalore, India on September 26, 2014:

I didn't know that sweet basil seeds can be consumed in this way. I grow sweet basil at home and love a couple of leaves in tea. Will try the seeds. I read somewhere that bees love the flowers so it' s a good idea to allow the flowers to grow and then you also have the seeds.

Dr Abby Campbell from Charlotte, North Carolina on August 28, 2014:

Excellent hub, Rajan. I look forward to reading more of your healthy hubs. :-)

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 31, 2014:

Thanks for stopping by, Tini. Glad you found the info useful.

Tini on March 30, 2014:

Ohh my so so much benefits these are and we didn't know about it.I am suffering with severe anemia,thanx a lot for sharing this important knowledge with us.

kare sreedhar gupta on January 21, 2014:

wonderful gift of nature it is health tonic for all ages thanks for your nutritional values given by u

Hariette Louis on September 20, 2013:

Sorry it is pco symtoms

Hariette Louis on September 20, 2013:

Thanks for the information on this little herb. As it helps to control heaving bleeding during menses girls who have poco symtoms better avoid as it will delay their periods further

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 27, 2013:

Antu, you can read my hub on the benefits of chia seeds. All your questions are answered there. You can go to my profile and then select the article from there from among the list.

Thanks for reading and I hope you like the info on chia seeds.

Antu601 on June 27, 2013:

Rajanji, I bought chia seeds, thought they r takmaria...please can u tell me how to differentiate between takmaria and chia seeds?..and r both having the same properties or do both of them differ?...your page is so very informattive, big thanks to you!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 23, 2013:

Thanks Paul. We do make basil tea here. It is good for respiratory troubles too.

I appreciate your visit, votes and sharing. Thanks.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on June 22, 2013:


This is another awesome, well-researched hub on something that I occasionally eat. It is called stir-fried pork with basil leaves served over steamed rice. Although the basil tastes a little spicy, it is really a delicious dish here in Thailand. Thanks for educating me on the many health benefits derived from basil. Voted up and sharing with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinning and Tweeting.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 23, 2013:

Thanks for so many kind words and I must say I'm very impressed with your recipe hubs all of which I'm bookmarking to try as and when time permits.

One request you is to write a hub on the Indian names of the imported herbs and ingredients and where they can be found in India. Such a list will really help people like me who find it difficult to locate these ingredients here in Jalandhar. At least, then I can get them from Delhi or other cities where it is available.

Thanks for sparing time to read, comment and share.

Indian Chef from New Delhi India on May 23, 2013:

again a very informative and interesting hub. One thing I have noticed about your hubs. It is easy to give information about anything but you make your hubs very interesting which is not easy thing to do. voting up, awesome and sharing.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 19, 2013:

Glad you like the info moonlake. I appreciate your visit and sharing.

moonlake from America on May 16, 2013:

I use basil in foods, interesting to hear about the seeds and the drinks that can be made from them. Voted up, five stars and shared.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 14, 2013:

@Peggy-Sprinkling the dry seeds is the best way to have new plants for the next growing season. I'm glad you learned something new from this hub. Thanks for all the votes and shares.

@Nithya-Yes so true! Thanks for reading.

@Devika-They don't thrive in the winter, but you can use the seeds to grow new plants for the next season.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 14, 2013:

A well researched hub on Sweet Basil, Sabja Or Tukmaria Seeds And Their Health Benefits, sweet basil tea sounds a good drink. I had a few sweet basil plants last summer, but didn't last in the winter. Informative and useful and I learned more about the seeds

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on May 13, 2013:

Great hub on the benefits of basil. Basil gives an extra flavor to any dish. Thank you for sharing.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 13, 2013:

Hi Rajan,

We grow basil every year in our garden and pinch off those stalks bearing the seeds to prolong the leaf bearing stage. At some point towards the end of the year, we collect the seeds to sprinkle into the ground and we get new basil plants coming up from those that germinated. I never knew that we could be eating the seeds! I found this fascinating as I do most of your hubs. Will have to collect the seeds and try them in this manner. Good to know all of the health benefits associated with our consumption of the basil leaves. Gave this 5 stars, many up votes & will pin and share.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 12, 2013:

Hi GTF! Nice to learn you have basil growing on you patio and that you use it regularly. The seeds are very healthy as well and to highlight this was the purpose of this hub.

Thanks for stopping by.

Claudia Porter on May 12, 2013:

Hi rajan - Had to see what the health benefits of basil were because we always have basil plants on our patio during the summer. I love to add the leaves to salads and other dishes.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 12, 2013:

@Joe-thanks, my friend. Nice to know this information is appreciated. Thank you.

@Jared-glad you like the info and thanks for all the kind words and appreciate the sharing.

@Kathryn-thanks and I'm sure you'll be using the seeds more often in view of their health benefits. Thanks for the visit.

@Carol-basil is a herb that we use quite often and the seeds too. Thanks for the visit and comments.

@Bill-good you have the herb growing in your garden; now you just need to collect some seeds and use them for a great and healthy drink. Thanks.

@Sueswan-Glad you like the info. Thanks for the visit, comments and sharing.

@mnkk-Thanks my friend. I do hope you use more of these healthy seeds as well.

Kathleen March from Brunswick, Maine on May 12, 2013:

Great work. I am a huge consumer of basil and also plant it. I found the canned drink you mention in an Asian store in Portland, ME. Will now go to our new Indian spices store in town to see if there are bags of basil seeds. Although not a stranger to this versatile, healthy plant, I learned a lot from your hub.

Sueswan on May 12, 2013:

Hi Ranjan,

Thank you for another informative and nutritional. I need to purchase some sweet basil tea to control my appetite especially in the evening.

Voted up and sharing

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 12, 2013:

Well, we grow basil in our garden; the other I have never heard of.

Once again you have done an excellent job of detailing important information in an easy-to-understand hub. Well done my friend.

carol stanley from Arizona on May 12, 2013:

Never heard of these seeds but most interesting. Basil..that is a different story. Think I will go out and buy a plant so we can have it daily. Thanks as always for a lively presentation about healthy solutions.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on May 12, 2013:

I use the herb basil in food, but I never knew about the seeds being gelatinized and consumed in a drink. I am fascinated by the different foods and beverages that exist that I have never seen before.

Thanks for educating us on this herb, and the health benefits from this. Have a good weekend, Rajan.

Jared Miles from Australia on May 12, 2013:

Well done on a very extensive and highly informative Hub, Rajan. You've clearly gone to a great deal of effort to research so much information, and I applaud you on your diligence.

I particularly enjoyed reading your list of health benefits of Sabja.

Voted up and shared. :)

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on May 12, 2013:

Rajan, these hubs of yours are very informative and interesting. I have this spice in my kitchen cupboard, but until now, that's all I knew about basil. I now know that it's actually a plant food whose seeds, oils, and flavonoids are used in multiple ways. Thanks for sharing, my friend! Aloha!


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