In India, Tulsi(Ocimum sanctum) is found in every household and is considered auspicious because of its wonderful health benefits. It has a good scent and beautiful inflororescence. There is no other herb equivalent to this. In ancient times, Tulsi was considered for Brahmcharaya (celibacy) in India. Ayurveda classifies Holy basil as ‘Rasayana’: a herb that nourishes a person’s growth to perfect health and promotes long life. Health Benefits of Holy basil has been found effective for cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, liver support and protection, hypoglycemic conditions, ulcers, digestion, radiation poisoning etc.
Extensive studies, experimental and clinical studies prove that Tulsi possesses anti-stress, antioxidant, immunomodulator and anti-radiation properties which play a major role in prevention and treatment of cancer. As Tulsi has health benefitting effects by reducing stress and improving both cellular and humoral immunity, its role in treatment of cancer cases may be a new approach in therapy of cancer and in prevention of ill effects of radiation.
Ocimum sanctum leaves have been traditionally used in treatment of diabetes mellitus.
There are two varieties of Tulsi:
- Shukla tulsi(white variety)- Ocimum americanum
- Krishna tulsi(black variety)- Ocimum sanctum
Chemical Constituents of Holy basil- It contains eugenol, methyl ether, boronyl acetate, cadinene camphene, camphor, methyl chavicol, limonene etc.
Experiment on Tulsi :
An experiment was conducted in which dietary supplementation of fresh tulsi leaves for 30 days led to significant lowering of blood glucose levels . Regular usage of Ocimum sanctum also led to significant increase in levels of superoxide dismutase, reduced glutathione and total thiols, but there was marked reduction in peroxiodised lipid levels as compared to untreated control group. It was found in the experiment that tulsi leaves possess both superoxide and hydroxyl free radical scavenging action. The present observations establish the efficacy of Ocimum sanctum leaves in lowering blood glucose levels and antioxidant property which is predominantly responsible for hypoglycemic effect.
In another experiment conducted on rats, Ocimum sanctum leaves have been shown to exert hepatoprotective effect in paracetamol and carbon tetrachloride induced liver damage in rats. The qualitative analysis of the extracts from the leaf sample of Ocimum sanctum also showed the presence of phytochemical constituents such as tannins, saponin, flavonoids, terpenoid, cardiac glycerides etc.
Many types of research have been going on throughout the world to explore the health benefits of tulsi but in the Indian system of medicine, benefits of tulsi plant are mentioned around 5000 years ago.
- Botanical Name Ocimum sanctum
- Family: Lamiaceae
- Vernacular Names: Indian Basil/ Holy Basil/ Sacred Basil
Properties of Tulsi:
- Ras(taste)- Katu(pungent)
- Guna(Qualities)-Laghu(Light), Rooksh(Dry)
- Vipaak- Katu (undergoes pungent taste after digestion)
- Veerya (Potency)- Hot
- Part used- Seed, Root, and Leaf
- Effect on Tridosha- Balances Vata and Kapha but increases Pitta dosha
Medicinal Properties of tulsi as according to Ayurveda:
- It is anti-microbial. It is one of the best anti-viral herbs in Ayurveda.
- Balances Kapha dosha imbalance and hence useful in relieving excess sputum production.
- Improves digestion.
- It improves taste and relieves anorexia.
- Acts as a cardiac tonic, useful in reducing high cholesterol levels deposited in blood vessels.
- It is used in the treatment of asthma and chronic respiratory disorders.
- Useful in repeated hiccups.
- It relieves vomiting
- Useful in skin disorders with pain and itching.
- It is useful in kidney and bladder stones.
Health Benefits of Holy basil
How to use-
- For itching and rashes, paste of tulsi leaves can be applied over the skin.
- Two drops of tulsi fresh leaves is put into both nostrils on empty stomach. This helps to relieve sinusitis related headache.
- Chewing one or two tulsi leaves helps to relieve bad breath issue because it helps to improve digestion.
- For hoarse voice and laryngitis, juice of 8-10 tulsi leaves can be taken with 1 spoon of honey or juice of 6-8 leaves of tulsi along with 2 pepper grains and a pinch of rock salt is also beneficial.
- It is also good for tinea cruris and ringworm infestation as it has anti-fungal properties. Mix a pinch of neem powder or turmeric powder to the juice of tulsi leaves and apply over the affected skin area for 10 days.
- Smokers are prone to respiratory disorders and cancer. For this condition, consumption of tulsi leaves is ideal.
- Face pack prepared from 8-10 tulsi leaves and honey clears the oily skin and also improves the skin glow. External application of juice of tulsi mixed with lime juice eradicates pimples and softness of skin is observed.
- For chronic cough, tulsi juice is mixed with black pepper, ginger juice, and honey.
- Keeping a tulsi plant in the house will prevent all types of insects and mosquitoes. Hence malaria and dengue can be prevented as mosquito which is responsible for dengue fever cannot withstand fragrance of tulsi. Hence tulsi plant acts as mosquito repellant also.
- Taking tulsi leaves in the morning helps to reduce excess sugar in diabetic patients.
- In kidney stones, juice of 8-10 leaves of tulsi taken with honey regularly for a period of 6 months will expel stones through urinary tract.
- It is the best adaptogen (anti-stress agent). 12 tulsi leaves if taken regularly twice a day helps to relieve stress levels in day to day life.
- In sore eyes and night blindness, 2 drops of juice of black tulsi must be instilled during bedtime.
- It is considered as prophylactic against the negative effects of environmental toxins including cancer as the plant is richly endowed with anti-oxidants, Vitamins A and C, calcium etc.
- One can enjoy tulsi tea also because of its numerous health benefits. Tea prepared from licorice, lemongrass, ginger is a good combination but it is not advisable to add milk to tea prepared from tulsi leaves.
- There are various Ayurvedic medicines which are prepared from tulsi like- Tribhuvankirti ras, Mukta Panchamrit ras etc.
- As it has hot potency, people having Pitta prakriti must not use tulsi regularly as it increases Pitta in the body.
- Tulsi with milk is not considered ideal (Reference: Charak Sutrasthana 26). Tulsi being hot and milk being coolant, this combination may cause skin disorders.