Tulsi (Holy Basil) is an aromatic shrub in the basil family. It is thought to have originated in north-central India. Tulsi holds a high place in Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medical systems. Ayurveda calls Tulsi “The Incomparable One,” “Mother Medicine of Nature” and “The Queen of Herbs,” and reveres it as an “elixir of life.”
Most Hindu people consider Tulsi sacred and use it in religious rituals too. Tulsi plant is grown and worshipped in many Indian homes. And it is commonly used in home remedies, especially for fighting cold and cough. Now, even scientific research is proving Holy Basil’s beneficial effects on physical and mental health.
What do scientific studies say?
Hundreds of scientific studies have examined the medicinal properties of Tulsi through in vitro, animal and human experiments. As per the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it has been found that Tulsi has a unique combination of actions that include: Antimicrobial (including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiprotozoal, antimalarial, anthelmintic), anti-diarrheal, anti-oxidant, anti-cataract, mosquito repellent, anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive, hepato-protective, radioprotective, neuro-protective, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic, anti-hypertensive, anti-hypercholesterolemia, anti-carcinogenic, anti-pyretic, anti-allergic, analgesic, immunomodulatory, memory enhancement, central nervous system depressant, anti-asthmatic, diaphoretic, anti-tussive, anti-thyroid, anti-fertility, anti-emetic, anti-spasmodic, anti-arthritic, anti-ulcer, adaptogenic, anti-stress, anti-leukodermal and anti-coagulant activities. All these pharmacological actions help the body and mind against a wide range of chemical, physical, infectious, and emotional stresses. And they also help in restoring physiological and psychological functions.
Benefits of Tulsi
Tulsi is considered a potent adaptogen and its unique combination of pharmacological actions help in promoting wellbeing and resilience. (An Adaptogen is a herb that can help with the adaptation to stress and the promotion of homeostasis.) As per some studies, Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn) can help in relieving physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress. Tulsi also has a broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. This includes activity against a range of human and animal pathogens which suggests it can be used as a hand sanitizer, mouthwash, and even water purifier. Holy Basil can also help in healing wounds.
Daily consumption of Tulsi (Holy Basil) can reduce the risk of infections and promote general health and wellbeing. It may also give luster to the complexion, sweetness to the voice, and enhance beauty, intelligence, stamina, while relieving stress and anxiety. It is said to provide relief in a range of conditions including anxiety, asthma, cough, fever, dysentery, diarrhea, indigestion, vomiting, arthritis, eye diseases, otalgia, hiccups, gastric, cardiac and genitourinary disorders, skin diseases, back pain, ringworm, insect, snake and scorpion bites and malaria.
Tulsi is Anti-Inflammatory:
The anti-inflammatory properties of Tulsi can help in a variety of diseases and disorders. It has several enzyme-inhibiting oils, including eugenol, linalool, and citronellol. Tulsi helps in reducing inflammation, the risk of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel conditions. Chewing of Tulsi leaves may give relief in fever, headache, cold, cough, sore throat, and flu.
Rich in Disease-Fighting Antioxidants:
Tulsi essential oil can help fight free radical damage and protect DNA structure and cells. It has two water-soluble flavonoid antioxidants – orientin and viceninare. These help in strengthening the immune system, protecting the cellular structure, DNA. And they may also delay the effect of skin aging.
Tulsi essential oil or Holy Basil essential oil is an excellent skin cleanser. Its ability to clean the skin from within makes it a good choice for people with oily skin. It helps in removing dirt and impurities that may block skin pores. Tulsi has strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can prevent the formation of acne. Some people also use Tulsi leaves for treating ringworm and several skin disorders. Regular use of Tulsi essential oil, paste of Tulsi leaves, or ointments can prevent premature aging and keep the skin healthy.
Heals wound and protects against infection:
Tulsi has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic (a painkiller) actions. Extracts made from Tulsi leaves may help in healing wounds sooner. It may also help in preventing the wound from getting infected. Experimental evidence shows that Tulsi can increase wound-breaking strength and speed up wound healing. Tulsi also has anti-ulcer and ulcer-healing activity. Some people even use Tulsi after surgery to accelerate healing and protect their wounds from infections.
Home Remedy for Cough:
Indians commonly use Tulsi to get relief in cough and cold. You can add Tulsi leaves while brewing tea. Indian households use different recipes of Tulsi leaves or flowers decoctions with ginger, cloves, black pepper, black cardamoms, etc. to soothe cold and cough and fight respiratory infections. Some people take Tulsi leaves’ juice (a few drops) and honey for relief in cough, cold, and sore throat.
Benefits of Tulsi include Detoxification:
Many of the physiological benefits of Tulsi result from its ability to help with the body’s internal housekeeping and protection of the body from toxin-induced damage. This may be because Tulsi, especially Krishna Tulsi (black/purple varieties), has a high content of phenolic compounds and antioxidant properties. Laboratory studies suggest that Tulsi can protect against toxic chemical-induced injury by increasing the levels of anti-oxidant molecules and enhancing the activity of antioxidant enzymes.
Benefits of Tulsi include its excellent ability to fight stress. Tulsi can help in reducing the body’s toxicant stress, physical stress, metabolic stress, and mental stress. Tulsi essential oil may reduce depression and anxiety too. By stimulating neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones, Tulsi may help you feel more relaxed, happier, and energetic. You can use Tulsi essential oil, drink Tulsi tea, or just chew 10-12 Tulsi leaves to reduce your stress.
Tulsi has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal qualities that can protect against many infection-causing pathogens. It may also boost immunity and help protect against infections. Many experts recommend Tulsi pills, Tulsi tea, water boiled with Tulsi leaves for boosting immunity. And Tulsi may be effective against malaria and dengue fever as well.
Tulsi can lower cholesterol and prevent heart diseases:
Holy Basil leaves can lower the cholesterol level in the body and help prevent cardiac diseases. By reducing metabolic stress, it can also help with weight loss, and managing cholesterol levels. Animal studies have shown fresh Tulsi can lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) and increase “good” cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol). One animal study has also shown that the oil in Holy Basil (eugenol) can lower stress-induced cholesterol levels. Tulsi leaves can act as a tonic for the heart.
Lower your blood sugar:
Tulsi is also beneficial for people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. All parts of the Holy Basil plant can help reduce blood sugar. Tulsi can help in reducing diabetes-related problems like weight gain, hyperinsulinemia, or excess insulin in the blood, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and hypertension.
How to use Holy Basil for better health?
As you can see, there are many benefits of Tulsi or Holy Basil. The list above is only a small glimpse of them. So, include Tulsi in your healthcare regime. If you can grow a Tulsi plant in your garden, you can take advantage of the fresh Tulsi leaves.
You can make Tulsi tea easily. Or you can make Tulsi concoction with ginger, cloves, black pepper, black cardamoms. It is called Tulsi Kadha in Hindi. If you google, you’ll find many recipes of Tulsi Kadha. You can also make a paste of Tulsi leaves for skincare. Mix it with aloe vera to get a soothing face mask. You can also use Tulsi essential oil to relieve stress, headache, etc. Tulsi supplements are easily available too in the form of pills or capsules.
However, before consuming fresh Tulsi or Tulsi supplements, consult your doctor. If you take Tulsi supplements, read the directions on the label carefully and don’t take more than the recommended dosage.