Tulsi is the wonder holy herb revered and worshipped by Hindus. A unique plant, it has medicinal properties too, and it also purifies the air. Making Tulsi a part of your life not only purifies the soul but it also helps with its untold health benefits. Know more about Tulsi (holy basil) and holy basil benefits.
The botanical name of Tulsi or holy basil is Ocimum sanctum, popularly known as Ram Tulsi. The shrub grows to a height of about 3 feet, and the leaves are highly aromatic, filling the air with their typical fragrance. The leaves are slightly hairy and soft.
There are various types of Tulsi plants growing all across the world. Let us take a brief look at them.
- Ram Tulsi is the most common, and it is found in virtually all households across India. It grows in the Indian subcontinent and in other parts of the world such as Nepal, Brazil, and China. The leaves are green and have a strong fragrance.
- Krishna Tulsi is almost similar but the stems are purple tinged, and leaves have a darker color with purple fringes.
- Drudriha Tulsi is found in Bengal, Maharashtra and certain parts of India and Nepal and it has medicinal properties.
- Babi Tulsi grows in hot and temperate regions of India and can be found practically all over the country. It has green stem and branches with leaves about an inch long with pointed oval shapes.
- Tukashmiya Tulsi grows in western parts of India and can also be found in Iran. It has medicinal properties.
Known as basil in other parts of the world, there are other species too such as the purple ruffle basil, the Mediterranean basil, the Nufar basil of Italy, the mammoth leaf basil, the Genovese basil, globe basil and lettuce leaf basil. While the holy basil plant is worshipped in India, in other parts of the world it is used to spice up culinary preparations and as tonic herb.
So why is it worshipped in India and considered holy? Read on and find out.
The religious significance of holy basil plant
One of the most important daily religious rituals for every devout Hindu is worship in the morning. Therefore, one will find the holy basil leaf plant in each household. Those who have a courtyard, plant a Tulsi. Those who live in apartments have a potted Tulsi plant. There are several religious myths and legends associated with Tulsi.
- Tulsi is considered as a form of Goddess Lakshmi. According to Devi Bhagvat Purana Lord Vishnu had three wives Saraswati, Ganga, and Lakshmi. Ganga was flirting with Lord Vishnu, which infuriated Saraswati who got into a fight with Ganga. Lakshmi ran to help Ganga which further enraged Saraswati who cursed Lakshmi that she should be born on earth as a plant. Lakshmi assumed the form of Tulsi. Worshipping her each morning in her form of holy basil plant brings peace and prosperity to the house.
- There is a belief that during Samudra manthan (churning of the ocean) by the Gods, Dhanvantari, the father of Ayurveda arose and brought with him the pot of nectar. Vishnu obtained it from him, and when he shed happy tears into the pot, they turned into the holy Tulsi plant.
- Hindus regard Tulsi as the gateway to heaven. It is believed that Brahma resides in its branches, the Ganga flows through its roots, the Vedas are in its upper branches and the scriptures in its leaves. Anyone who prays to Tulsi (holy basil) each day attains salvation.
- Tulsi vivah (marriage) is one of the rituals carried out on Kartik Poornima when a ceremony is conducted during which Tulsi is wed to Lord Vishnu.
- Hindus offer garlands made of Tulsi leaves to Lord Krishna.
- Prayer beads are made from stems and roots of the Tulsi plant. Wearing a necklace of such beads gives wearer protection.
- Shaivites also worship Tulsi and believe the lingam is made from the soil around the Tulsi plant.
- It is a common practice to place twigs of Tulsi on funeral pyres to help the deceased attain moksha.
The holy basil plant Tulsi is worthy of worship, and it also has tonic and medicinal uses. This is due to the essential oils and compounds found in Tulsi Holy Basil.
Compounds in holy basil plant Tulsi
Tulsi leaves, stems and even the roots contain phytophenol compounds. The leaves are a rich source of isothymusin, apigenin, circimaritin, cirsilineol and rosameric acid. The main ingredient is eugenol and some amounts of carvacrol and caryophyllene. Some of the other active constituents are ursolic acid and linalool. In combination and alone these work as antioxidants, antimicrobials and also confer a host of other health benefits. Consider the medicinal and health benefits of tulsi.
Tulsi also has minor amounts of folates, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese, sodium, lutein zeaxanthin and crypto-xanthin Beta.
Tulsi benefits are wide ranging. On the one hand, it is an air purifier and repels insects. Planting Tulsi shrubs around your house keeps your house free from insects and pests. Tulsi leaf and its extracts can be consumed for wide ranging health benefits. It can also be used topically for skin and hair use. It is antidiabetic, antilipidemic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral too besides giving protection against cancer.
Ayurveda gives prime importance to the use of Tulsi leaves and other parts of the plant. According to Ayurveda properties of Tulsi are that it is warming, relieves cough, removes heartburn, relieves pitta and it strengthens the heart too. It is warm and dry in properties and astringent. Tulsi leaves can be chewed, its juice can be consumed and applied to hair and skin and even the oil extracted from Tulsi has a number of therapeutic properties.
Take a detailed look at Tulsi benefits and uses of Tulsi Powder, Tulsi juice and the various uses for Tulsi.
Seeds of Tulsi plant can be placed in water and the seeds exude eugenol that kills mosquito larvae. Plant it around your house and the shrub exudes fragrance that repels insects. Hang bunches of Tulsi leaves inside the house and it keeps mosquitoes away. One can even apply Tulsi juice on the skin before going to bed to keep mosquitoes away. Studies have shown that Tulsi repels mosquitoes that cause dengue.
Tulsi leaves are excellent for diabetics. Just chew a few Tulsi leaves in the morning or consume Tulsi tea made with Tulsi powder or Tulsi juice and blood sugar remains under control for the day.
Cholesterol and heart health
Those leading a sedentary life are prone to high cholesterol levels. One of the Tulsi tea benefits is that it helps reduce triglyceride level and LDL cholesterol levels. Eugenol and other phytochemicals also strengthen the heart and purify the blood leading to good health. Just chew a few leaves of Tulsi each morning or drink Tulsi juice mixed with ginger juice.
Tulsi for eye health
Chemicals in the Tulsi leaf such as caryophylline, eugenol and linalool purify blood and keep eyes health. In case of eye infection one can brew a decoction of Tulsi leaves and apply the water to the eyes and any eye infection will clear up in a few days. Even those suffering from glaucoma can benefit by use of Tulsi tea or Tulsi juice.
Women can make use of Tulsi leaves and Tulsi juice from the leaves as an excellent contraceptive with no side effects. Consuming Tulsi tea regularly or drinking Tulsi juice has an inhibitory effect on implantation of ovum in females. Ursolic acid in tulsi leaves is the effective ingredient. If men consume tulsi leaves in larger amounts it has spermatogenetic effect and reduces fertility of males.
Tulsi green tea benefits
If you are habituated to consuming tea in the morning, switch to tulsi green tea. Green tea is an excellent antioxidant and keeps you protected against cancer. Combine it with tulsi and the effect is multiplied. Tulsi green tea benefits range from weight reduction to reducing anxiety. It can help dissolve kidney stones and it is an excellent anti-ageing drink. Green tea with Tulsi also helps prevent osteoporosis, especially in menopausal women. Tulsi tea benefits also extend to the heart since it removes LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and reduces risk of atherosclerosis. It helps the liver metabolize fat and keeps you energetic. Consuming Tulsi green tea when you have colds and coughs also brings about quick relief because Tulsi is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. If you have fever, consume Tulsi green tea and you get rid of it in just a day or two. If you have phlegm, Tulsi tea with pepper and ginger and a bit of honey gives much needed relief. Tulsi green tea benefits also reflect on your skin and hair. The skin looks noticeably healthier, wrinkles reduce and hair is protected against premature graying when you drink holy basil tea regularly. You can use green tea and fresh Tulsi leaves or buy organic Tulsi tea in ready to use packs these days.
Coughs, colds, and fever
Essential oils in Tulsi leaves are excellent as febrifuge. They also soothe and relief inflammation that happens when you have coughs and colds. These essential oils are also wonderful when it comes to removing phlegm from nose, throat and lungs. Make use of Tulsi juice mixed with ginger juice, lemon juice and honey added to warm water and drink this Tulsi tea thrice a day. Fever, coughs and colds will vanish. One can apply Tulsi oil mixed with sesame oil on the throat, chest and neck to relieve congestion. You can mix Tulsi powder with yashtimadhu powder, pepper powder and honey and make small pills that you can keep in your mouth. It will reduce cough and soothe the throat. Tulsi juice with honey is excellent for children with coughs and colds. Add some ardusi leaf juice for better benefit in coughs.
Tulsi for children
Instead of giving allopathic medicines, rely on Tulsi juice. It will help relieve symptoms of fever, coughs and colds in children. Holy basil juice with honey will keep children protected against chickenpox. Infants who are teething will feel less pain if gums are brushed with Tulsi juice and honey. If they have diarrhea a spoonful of Tulsi juice with honey is an excellent remedy.
Tulsi is an excellent remedy for gastrointestinal problems. If you have stomach ache, just drink Tulsi tea or Tulsi juice or chew Tulsi leaves with ajwain and asafetida. If you have gas and flatulence, tulsi powder with hing powder, ajwain powder and jeera powder gives relief and promotes digestion. If pregnant women feel nauseous then Tulsi tea gives immediate relief. Tulsi leaf juice also promotes better appetite. Tulsi is an excellent antimicrobial and if children have worms, give them Tulsi juice with vavding churna.
Tulsi for blood disorders
Eugenol in holy basil tea will strengthen the heart and purify the blood. Drinking Tulsi green tea will also reduce blood pressure and promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Those with heart condition can brew Tulsi leaves with green tea and add a spoonful of arjuna bark powder and filter the decoction and consume it twice a day. This makes the heart strong.
Organic Tulsi tea, if consumed regularly, helps keep you protected against cancer. It is an excellent antioxidant and removes free radicals from the body. Smoking and chewing tobacco are responsible for cancer. Chewing Tulsi leaves helps a person get rid of this habit, which is another benefit. Tulsi inhibits leukemia, it has been found in research.
Teeth and oral health with Tulsi
For people who suffer from bad breath, pyorrhea or periodontal diseases, Tulsi is a wonder herbal drug. Just chew a few leaves and your breath freshens up. It also kills germs in the mouth and keeps gums healthy. Mix Tulsi powder with tooth powder and brush your teeth regularly for good oral health. Even in cases of ulcer in the mouth, mixing Tulsi powder with aloe vera juice and applying inside the mouth will help cure this condition.
Stress, tension, headaches
Relieve stress, tension, headaches with Tulsi tea. After a hard day’s work, drink some soothing Tulsi green tea and the stress, anxiety and headache will leave you. Drink it to start your day and you will remain calm throughout the day. If you have headache, apply Tulsi juice around the temples or steam water to which you add Tulsi powder and inhale it.
Skin Benefits of Tulsi
Drink Tulsi tea every day and apply Tulsi juice to keep your skin healthy and glowing. People with acne and pimples can use Tulsi juice applied on the pimples to clear them quickly. You can just as well use Tulsi powder, turmeric powder and neem leaf powder mixed to a paste with water to treat acne. People with white patches can benefit by regular application of Tulsi juice. Those with dark circles and black patches and scars benefit by applying Tulsi juice mixed with besan, aloe vera and multani mitti. If skin is infected with ringworm or eczema or dermatitis, Tulsi juice is quite effective. Apply juice mixed with turmeric powder and lemon juice. Tulsi juice tightens skin pores, reduces wrinkles and keeps you looking young for a long time. In fact, for any skin condition, Tulsi is like “amrit”.
Hair Benefits of Tulsi
Hair loss, premature graying of hair, weak hair and dandruff are some of the common problems that can be addressed by the use of Tulsi leaf and Tulsi juice. People with hair loss and thinning hair problems can mix Tulsi oil with coconut oil and sesame oil and apply at night. They can mix Tulsi juice with onion juice and apply to the scalp to rejuvenate hair follicles. In case of dandruff mix Tulsi juice with neem juice and apply to scalp or use Tulsi oil with coconut oil.
Even if you are healthy, just chew a few tulsi leaves each day and you will remain in good health and feel fresh all day. Tulsi and its compounds are great when it comes to boosting immunity.
Ear ache is caused by infection in the ear canal. Just put a few drops of Tulsi oil and tea tree oil in sesame oil and put one to two drops in the ear. You can just as well put Tulsi juice in the ear to clear up infection and relieve ear ache.
Tulsi, like amla, is amrit and you will benefit not only by keeping the plant in your house but also by using Tulsi leaf for internal and external purposes.
Read: Triphala Health Benefits
How to grow Tulsi
Tulsi can be grown in pots. The soil should be porous and should drain well so mix natural organic fertilizer in the soil and put a small plant. The plant needs some hours of sunlight to grow well. If you want leaves then pay attention to the plant and nip off any buds and flowers that start to show because once they do then leaves will not grow. Keep trimming it and you have a healthy Tulsi plant you can worship and also use its leaves for all round good health.