Nuts & Seeds

Basil Seeds (Sabja or Tukmaria Seeds) Benefits & Side Effects

Tukmaria seeds are highly nutritious and are very low in calories. They have more protein content than chia seeds and have lower calories making them the Asian super food. Tukmaria seeds have high fiber and mucilage, which helps in lowering constipation by promoting bowel movement, induce satiety, detoxify by reducing the assimilation in the gut and helps in weight loss by slow conversion of starch into blood sugar.

Tukmaria Seeds are very high in medicinal value and consuming them, one can get rid of some common yet painful diseases like diarrhea, weight gain and many others. They can become a part of balanced diet and are gaining popularity in Europe and America due to their high nutritional content.

Tukmaria seeds are considered holy in their native South-Asian countries like India, Indonesia, Taiwan and many more. These seeds are black in color and look somewhat similar to their western cousins-chia seeds.

Although somewhat similar in nutritional properties, Tukmaria seeds are more versatile and have higher medicinal value. They have 19.6% of proteins and are larger in size than the chia seeds. Tukmaria Seeds have exceptional health benefits and have high medicinal value. They are also known by the names of Sabja or sweet basil.

Plant Description

The scientific name of Tukmaria seeds is Ocimum Basilicum and belongs to the basil family. It is a native to India and the South-Asian countries having a tropical climate. It is highly medicinal herb, which to around 30-130 cm tall having small white flowers arranged in a terminal manner. The flowers soon give way to the seeds and Tukmaria seeds are collected.  The plant has more than 150 varieties has been cultivated since 5000 years in these areas. This annual herb has long silky green colored leaved growing opposite to each other.

Tukmaria seeds are collected from the Sweet basil plant, which needs a hot and dry climate to bloom. It is cold sensitive and needs sunlight for a healthy growth. The leaves may wilt from excessive watering or full sunlight, but can recover if kept in shade and water is given moderately.

The steam bear the flower spikes and one the flower matures, the stem becomes woody. The small white flowers produce tear shaped black seeds called Tukmaria seeds. These seeds swell to 30 times their size when soaked in water and have a gelatin covering. They are very bland and but give a crunchy feel when chewed just like the chia seeds.

Nutritional Value of Tukmaria Seeds

Tukmaria seeds have a high percentage of about 42% carbohydrates, 20% proteins and almost 25% fats. They have exceptionally high fiber content. In just 4 grams of Tukmaria seeds, there is more fiber than an entire bulb of lettuce. They have almost negligible calories and have alpha-linolenic acid abbreviated as ALA acid. It is highly beneficial since it has Omega-3 fatty acids.

They are also high in calcium (244% of recommended daily dose (RDD)), magnesium (178% RDD), iron (499% RDD), potassium (56% RDD), folic acid (78%RDD) and vitamin E (53% of RDD).

Ayurvedic Properties

Basil seeds have the following ayurvedic properties:

RASA (Taste)MADHURA (Sweet)
GUNA (Main Quality)SNIGADH or SNEHA (Unctuous or Oily)
VIRYA (Potency)SHEETA (Cool)
VIPAKA (Resultant)MADHURA (Sweet)
Dosha KarmaPacifies Vata Dosha And Pitta Dosha. It might increase Kapha Dosha.
Main Medicinal PropertyDiuretic
Main IndicationDysuria

According to these properties, Basil seeds are suitable for people with health conditions:

  1. Hyperacidity, Acid Reflex, GERD.
  2. Polyphagia (excessive eating or appetite).
  3. Dysuria (difficult and painful micturition).
  4. Urinary disorders with burning sensation and pain.
  5. Ayurvedic properties suggest it might cause an increase in weight. But it also suppresses appetite. If the patient is suffering from excessive eating or unusual craving for foods, it might be useful to suppress appetite and induce satiety feeling. It should not be used for a longer duration in obesity. After 2 to 3 weeks of its use, other medicines should be used to reduce weight.
  6. Constipation with dry and hard stools.

These seeds are not suitable for people suffering from the following health conditions:

  1. It might increase AMA (particles of undigested food). So, it should not be used in cases of diseases caused by AMA including poor digestion, diarrhea with mucus, loss of appetite, rheumatoid arthritis etc.
  2. Loss of appetite: It can worsen the condition due to its appetite suppressing action. It is also heavy to digest.
  3. Obesity: However, it is used to produce satiety feeling in obese people, but long-term use can be harmful in obese people. Its regular use might restrict weight loss similarly as Ashwagandha does. For reducing craving for foods, it should be used only for 2 to 3 weeks. After that, it should be stopped and other medicines should be used.

Health Benefits of Tukmaria Seeds

The health benefits of Tukmaria seeds are numerous and if consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet, one can remain fit as a fiddle. Some of the major health advantages are:


It is a common problem in many households and almost 90% of the people suffer from it. The Tukmaria seeds have a mucilaginous gel around their inner covering, which is when soaked in water, start acting like an emollient. It has a laxative effect due to the high fiber content and smoothes the mucous membrane and helps in the bowel movement.

For constipation, Tukmaria seeds should be taken with milk before going to bed. Its high fiber content helps in the prompting the bowel movement in the morning.

Appetite Suppressant

Obesity and weight-gain is a widespread problem and people everywhere are getting enrolled in weight reducing programs. Eating Tukmaria seeds help in reducing weight since they work as an appetite-suppressant, if taken before meals. The main reason is their low calorie content and high nutritional value. The person does not feel hungry after eating these seeds and their high nutritional value ensures that there is no nutritional deficiency in the body. The main reason they help in weight reduction is the ALA acid present in the seeds that helps the fat burning metabolism of the body.

Tukmaria seeds should be eaten before meals to make the stomach feel fuller and reducing over eating. It should be taken by mixing them with yogurt and fruit as a snack to relive hunger.

Feeling of Fullness

The Tukmaria seeds convert into a gel when they are soaked in water and slow down the metabolism of the body. In simpler words, they make the feeling of fullness last longer and the person does not eat. Therefore, they decrease appetite, weight and even diabetes by the slow conversion of carbohydrates into blood sugar.

Coolant Properties

Tukmaria or Sabja seeds have high coolant properties. They are consumed in summer to keep the body cool. They absorb the body heat and cool down the system instantly. When the seeds are taken with rose petal water or jam (Gulkand), they become doubly effective as a body coolant.

Prevent Diabetes

People having type-2 diabetes should consume Tukmaria seeds in their diet since they curb this deadly disease. These seeds have the properties to regulate blood sugar levels and maintain the diabetes.

The Tukmaria seeds should be soaked in water and mixed with cold milk to make a healthy diabetic drink without any sugar. It will not only curb the diabetes, but also make the person healthier with its nutritional content.

To make the drink tastier, few drops of vanilla can be added. If one has protein allergy, then Tukmaria seeds can be added to non-dairy milk like soymilk or even drink with cold water.

Acidity and Heartburn

Tukmaria seeds do wonders for acidity and heartburns. They act as a base and neutralize the acidic effect of the HCL in the stomach. They also have high mucilage, which soothes the lining of the stomach and relieves the burning sensation due to acidity.

Instead of taking tea, coffee or cola, Tukmaria seeds with milk or rose petals jam (Gulkand) should be taken to get instant relief from stomach burns

Skin Infections

The antibacterial and antifungal properties of the Tukmaria seeds help in the treatment of skin infections. Studies have shown them to be highly beneficial in treating psoriasis, eczema and other skin diseases.

If one suffers from skin allergies, he/she should crush the Tukmaria seeds and mix it with hot coconut oil. Once mixed thoroughly, the oil should be strained and used in affected area.

Healthy Hair

The high content of vitamins, especially vitamin K in the seeds helps in keeping the scalp, hair and skin healthy. They make the hair shinier, bouncier, add volume to them due to its high proteins, and iron content.

Cough Relief

Tukmaria seeds have antispasmodic properties, which mean they help relieve the tension in the spastic muscles and relax them. This property helps in controlling and reducing whooping cough. It also soothes hiccups, tics, nervous irritation and other respiratory problems like flue, cold and cough.

Stress Reliever

Tukmaria seeds have calming properties, which have a soothing effect on the brain. It relieves stress, mental fatigue, migraine, depression and tension. They also improve the mood and make the person happy.

Aid in Digestion

Tukmaria seeds are carminative in nature, which means they have volatile oils helps in reliving gas from the gastrointestinal tract. They provide relief to bloating, indigestion, stomach cramps, flatulence and many more.


The high anti-inflammatory properties of the Tukmaria seeds help in relieving pain, inflammation and swelling. It has been used since ages in Ayurvedic for managing the formation of plaque in blood vessels and swelling in arthritis.

These properties lower the cholesterol level, so basil seeds reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attacks and strokes.

Detoxifying Agent

Tukmaria seeds help in cleansing the blood and relieves vomiting and nausea. In addition, food poisoning and the gut can be cleaned through the consumption of these seeds. They also flush the kidney through their diuretic functions.

Increase Body Immunity

Tukmaria seeds have flavonoids vicenin, orientin and beta-carotene, which increase the immunity of the body. The flavonoids help in cellular protection against radiation.


The high content of iron in Tukmaria seeds helps in the treatment of anemia. They can be soaked in water and chewed.

Lemon Basil Seeds
Lemon Basil Seeds

Mouth Ulcers

The antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial properties of the seeds and basil help to prevent cavities, mouth ulcers, bad-breath and even plaque in the mouth. The seeds can be chewed simply as a mouth freshener to get rid of any of these problems.


The Omega-3 fatty acids and the antioxidants in Tukmaria seeds reduce the production of free radical in the body and reduce degenerative diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s diseases and many more.

The other health benefits of Tukmaria seeds include an effective digestion, detoxifying agent since it removes the waste from the gut and making the health healthy by lowering the blood-cholesterol levels.

They also help in skin infections and respiratory diseases. Traditionally, they have been used as a stress reliever in many Indian and Chinese medicines. Therefore, Tukmaria seeds are an inexpensive and highly beneficial addition to a balanced and nutritious diet.

How to Eat Tukmaria Seeds

Tukmaria seeds do not have a taste of their own, but give a crunchy feel when chewed or a jelly like texture when soaked in water. Their bland taste makes them a great addition to any recipe and adding the advantages of the seeds to the recipe. They are used in desserts, drinks, salads and even cakes as a binding agent.

One can simply mix the seeds in salads, yogurts, soups, muesli, breads, crackers and even pasta dishes. For consumption for health benefits only, one spoon of Tukmaria seeds should be added to one glass of water and left for 15 minutes. The seeds will swell up to 10-20 times of their volume and then one can drink this water and eat the basil seeds. Soaking the seeds in water helps in releasing their mucilage, antioxidants and digestive enzymes.


Tukmaria seeds should not be given to children directly, since they can choke on it. In addition, pregnant women or those who are trying to conceive should not intake Tukmaria seeds since they can lower the estrogen levels in the body and prevent pregnancy.

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Dr. Jagdev Singh

Dr. Jagdev Singh is a qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner and Herbalist with B.A.M.S. and M. Sc. in Medicinal Plants. He has a wealth of experience in using Ayurveda to treat patients, including the use of herbal medicine and personalized Ayurvedic diets. His passion for spreading accurate and scientific information about Ayurveda and Medicinal Plants led him to create Ayur Times, a trusted resource for those seeking reliable information on the topic. Through his dedicated work, Dr. Singh has helped thousands of patients find relief and improve their health with Ayurveda and Herbal Medicine.

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  1. Perhaps the precaution section means to say that these seeds should “NOT” be given to children. Please revise if this is the case.

  2. Under precaution section there is spelling mistake, as Sabja seeds should not be given to children directly instead it is spelled as it should be given. Request to make correction.

  3. It will give side effects to girls in their periods time, it will make delay so don’t take it

    1. Sabja seeds are known to affect hormonal level and uterine contractions. Thereby, it may cause negative effects during pregnancy. So, these seeds should not be used during pregnancy on regular basis. Infrequent use may be possibly safe.

  4. How are basil seeds digested?

    As the reality is that basil seeds when eaten by birds get this swelling coating around it and the idea from the plant’s point of view is that the seed inside pass through the gut of an animal unharmed and is expelled out of the system so that it germinates where ever it falls on the ground.

    No doubt that the basil seeds contain a lot of vitamin and minerals. Is it a good idea to crush the basil seeds in a grinder before soaking in water?

    Has there been any research on how basil seeds are digested in humans?

    1. Hi Shahid,

      Yes, you can crush the basil seeds before soaking them in water. In this case, also drink water in which they are soaked. This process might improve its digestibility.

      Chewing soaked seed is also good.

      Some people also roast these seeds and enjoy crunching.

      Yet, there is no research available on digestibility of basil seeds in human.

  5. I consumed Subja seeds for three days in juice/water. I have skin rashes on my hand and wherever I sweat. Is it because of this?

    1. If you cannot rule out other causes, you may be allergic to Sabja Seeds. You should stop it and consult your healthcare provider.

  6. I recently had a hysterectomy and my oestrogen level seems to be low and I am diabetics so can I take these seeds?

  7. I just want to know more about this side effects as it create a problem period.

    1. Basil seeds lower estrogen level. Estrogen is mainly responsible for driving the menstrual cycle. Low estrogen may cause missed or irregular menstruation.

  8. Hello, I have been drinking these seeds soaked in water mixed with rooh afza drink. But now I read your article and it says it lowers estrogen. My question is my hair have been falling a lot and I was wondering eating these seeds will help or not? If my estrogen levels are low that might be a cause of hair fall. So pls guide me.

    1. You should rule out the cause with your doctor. It may or may not be responsible for hair fall.
      Its nutritional content may help in promoting hair growth. However, its estrogen lowering action may contradict it.

  9. Hi I’m 6 weeks pregnant and have been drinking basil seeds in water in roofaza and nimbu paani for 2 days just had a glass each day is that safe in early pregnancy I’m abt worried.

  10. Can I take basil seeds to regularize my periods as I’m suffering from prolong and heavy menstrual cycle?

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