My earliest recollection of tulsi goes back to when I was four or five. My father was posted in Calcutta at the time, and on weekends we would visit my maternal grandmother at her bariin Howrah. She had a tulsi plant in her garden and we kids would pluck the leaves and eat them; I really loved the aroma and taste! Adjoining the bungalow was a temple and, after the morning prayers, the pujari would pour us a small quantity of water in which tulsi leaves had been dipped. For me, tulsi had religious connotations and it was only later that I learnt about its wonderful medicinal properties.
The Holy Basil, or Tulsi in India, is regarded as one of the sacred symbols in Hinduism and is even worshipped by many in the Hindu community at least twice a day (in the morning and evening). It is seen as the earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi, a consort of the god Vishnu. Many Indian households will have a tulsi plant, usually placed at the entrance of the residence to ensure prosperity and to welcome guests with love and affection.
Tulsi is used by Hindus as an effective herbal remedy to combat certain ailments. It is mentioned in the ancient Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita and is thought to be an adaptogen; that is, a plant that is supposed to increase the body’s ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning.
Listed below are some of the benefits of tulsi:
The tulsi plant is said to possess healing properties. The leaves of the plant can be used as an effective nerve tonic in addition to help sharpen the memory. The tulsi plant also aids in the removal of catarrhal matter and phlegm that may congest the bronchial tube. If you are suffering from an upset stomach, the leaves of the plant can be used to strengthen the stomach lining as well as to induce large amounts of perspiration.
The Fever Obliterator
For people suffering from a cold and fever, tulsi can provide relief. The leaves can be used specifically to down many fevers; they are effective during the monsoon season when dengue and malaria are prevalent. The leaves can be boiled with tea or along with powdered cardamom. The juice that is extracted from the tulsi plant can also be effective in bringing down fevers. Since tulsi is mild, its leaves can safely be given to children.
The Cough Curer
Many cough syrups have tulsi as one of their key ingredients. The main reason is that tulsi helps in mobilizing mucus in asthma and bronchitis. Instead of a cough syrup, you could just chew tulsi leaves to get relief from a cough and flu.
Sore Throat Healer
The effects of a sore throat can be quite damaging, especially for a singer, amateur or professional. However, tulsi leaves, when boiled in water, can act as a very potent remedy for sore throats. Also, you could use the water as a daily gargle in the morning to prevent a sore throat.
Are you or a member of your family suffering from respiratory problems? Well, tulsi can help cure that too. A concoction of the leaves along with some ginger and honey can act as an effective cure for asthma, bronchitis and the regular cough and cold. The leaves, along with cloves and salt, also provide relief to people suffering from influenza.
The Heart Healer
At a time when heart disease has become a major cause of worry, basil leaves act as a natural remedy to prevent a cardiac arrest. The leaves can also help strengthen a person from the weakness induced by such an ailment. It also helps in reducing blood cholesterol levels.
The Child Protector
Children are prone to diseases and ailments and extra caution should be maintained. Children are hit by certain pediatric problems which include cough cold, fever, diarrhea and vomiting. Basil leaves have been proven to be quite effective when it comes to providing relief. If a child suddenly gets a bout of chicken pox, basil leaves, along with a little saffron, can help provide relief.
The Stress Buster
In this day and age, when stress of everyday life seems to get the best of us, tulsi leaves are an effective anti-stress agent. In fact, recent studies have shown that these leaves offer a great deal of protection against stress and anxiety. People blessed with great health are also advised to chew at least 12 tulsi leaves, two times a day in order to safeguard themselves from stress. It even helps in purifying blood and is an excellent prophylactic.
The Insect Repellant
Tulsi leaves can also serve as an effective insect repellent, especially during the monsoon season when mosquitoes spread some deadly diseases like malaria and dengue. One should consume a teaspoon of the juice extracted from the leaves. Also, the juice should be applied to the affected areas of the body. The use of tulsi as an insect repellent is widely prevalent in Sri Lanka.
The Skin Healer
If you know of anyone suffering from a serious case of ringworms, you can always recommend the use of basil leaves. The juice extracted from the leaves can be applied to the areas on the body affected by ringworms. Tulsi leaves have also been used by various naturopaths in treating leukoderma with some amazing results.
The Teeth Fixer
People suffering from tooth disorders have a natural remedy now. Tulsi is extremely effective when it comes to combating teeth disorders. All you need to do is dry the leaves in the sun and then pound them into a powder that can be used to brush your teeth. Also, when added with mustard oil, the mixture can be used as a highly effective toothpaste. Tulsi also helps in combating bad breath and aids in massaging the gums. The leaves are also helpful when it comes to pyorrhoea and other teeth related issues.
The Eye Healer
Tulsi is also very effective when it comes to sore eyes as well as night blindness. Just apply two small drops of the juice extracted from tulsi leaves before going to bed at night. In the long run, the results will be nothing short of spectacular.
The Sugar Regulator
Regular consumption of tulsi leaves can prove to be highly effective in controlling blood sugar levels.
The Weight-loss Ally
Tulsi can also help in weight loss. This is because of its ability to lower elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the ‘stress hormone’; if cortisol levels are very high, you may gain weight and regular intake of tulsi may aid in losing weight.
While Ayurveda has, for centuries, recognised the advantages of tulsi as a universal healer, Western medical science is only just recognising the possible ‘magical’ healing powers of Tulsi. I have faith in my ancient ancestors and consume tulsi regularly. Regrettably, it is in capsule form and I just hope that these capsules, marketed by well-known companies, work as well as the real thing!