Tulsi or holy basil (Ocimum Sanctum) is undoubtedly one of the best medicinal herbs on the planet. The herb has miraculous properties, a few drops of basil water dropped in foods can also purify and kill germs. Tulsi planted indoors can protect the family from infections, coughs, colds and other viral infections.
Tulsi or holy basil is a widely known herb in the Lamiaceae family. It is native to India and is cultivated throughout Southeast Asia.
Tulsi has proved to be highly effective in protecting our body from various infections and diseases of the heart, liver, skin, kidneys etc. Therefore, Basil is called the ‘Queen of Herbs’.
Tulsi has a special place in India as well as in Ayurveda, home to Hindus. It is considered sacred by Hindus and worshiped by them. Three main types of Tulsi are seen growing in India:
- Ram Tulsi – bright green leaves
- Krishna Tulsi or Shyama Tulsi – purplish green leaves
- Vana Tulsi – common leaves
Nutritional Value of Tulsi : Tulsi leaves are rich in vitamins A, C, and K and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and potassium. It also has a good amount of protein and fiber.
Health Benefits of Tulsi (Holy Basil)
1. Natural Immunity Booster:
Tulsi is rich in vitamin C and zinc. Thus it acts as a natural immune booster and keeps the infection away. It has highly anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties which protect us from many types of infections. The extract of basil leaves increases the activity of T helper cells and natural killer cells, thereby boosting the immune system.
2. Reduces Cold, Cough & Other Respiratory Disorders:
Tulsi or holy basil is considered as one of the best herbs that boost the immune system. It contains phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, and anti-oxidant compounds, such as rosmarinic acid, which is a very good anti-microbial agent for the treatment of respiratory tract infections. Tulsi is an excellent remedy for cough, calms the throat, reduces chest swelling and helps to flush out mucus. The easiest way to boost the immune system is to consume 1-2 cups of basil tea every day, especially during the monsoon season.
3. Enhances Skin & Hair Wellness:
The essential oil in basil possesses strong antibiotic, disinfectant, antibacterial and antifungal effect.
Tulsi helps clear out the skin of blemishes and acne. It is rich in antioxidants, and that helps it to prevent premature aging. Tulsi also strengthens our hair roots, thus preventing hair loss.
The antifungal properties of Tulsi prevent the development of fungus and dandruff.
4. Use As A Mosquito & Insect Repellent:
The herb tulsi is a plant of mint species with the strong aroma deterring the insects like mosquitoes, cockroaches and fleas. These pests are harmful and often cause diseases. Keeping the plants at home acts as a repellent and can help you to avoid insect bites.
For centuries, the dried Tulsi leaves have been mixed with stored grains to repel insects.
5. Reduces Fever & Pain:
Tulsi has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that help fight infection, which reduces fever. Taking fresh juice of basil with black pepper powder cures recurrent fever. Boiling the basil leaves with cardamom (cardamom) powder in half a liter of water and mixing it with sugar and milk is also effective in reducing the temperature.
Eugenol, a terpene with pain relieving properties found in basil, reduces body pain.
6. Reduces Stress & Blood Pressure:
Tulsi contains the compounds Ocimumosides A and B. These compounds reduce stress and balance the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Tulsi’s anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation and blood pressure.
7. Useful for Eyes Health:
Tulsi’s anti-inflammatory properties help promote eye health by preventing viral, bacterial and fungal infections. It also calms the inflammation of the eyes and reduces stress.
8. Anti-cancer properties:
The phytochemicals present in Tulsi have strong antioxidant properties. Thus, they help protect us from skin, liver, mouth and lung cancer.
9. Useful in Kidney stones & Gouty Arthritis:
Tulsi detoxifies the body and has diuretic properties. It reduces uric acid levels in the body, which is the main reason for kidney stones. Reduced uric acid levels also provide relief to gout patients.
10. Useful in Gastrointestinal Disorders:
Tulsi leaves help to cure indigestion and loss of appetite. They are also used for the treatment of flatulence and bloating.
11. Useful in Diabetes:
Tulsi leaf extract reduces blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
12. Useful in Healthy Heart:
Tulsi has a profound effect on the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases due to its lowering of blood lipid content, suppressing ischemia and stroke, lowering high blood pressure, and its high antioxidant properties.
13. Useful in Oral Health:
Tulsi is a natural mouth freshener and an oral disinfectant. Ocimum Sanctum can also cure mouth ulcers. Holy Basil protects the teeth as well as destroys bacteria responsible for tooth cavity, plaque, tartar and bad breath.
Chemical Composition of Tulsi:
An essential oil is produced from the aerial part of the Tulsi plant which contains eugenol as a major component. Other compounds identified were nerol, eugenol, terpene pinene, and carvacrol. Leaves have also been reported to contain ursolic acid, epigenin, luteolin, and orientin.
How to Consume Tulsi?
- Take raw of tulsi leaves, fresh from the plant and eat it, mix it in your tea or make a decoction from it.
- Tulsi Tea: To make Tulsi tea, boil 1 cup of water and add 1 tsp fresh basil leaves, 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves or 1/3 tsp tulsi powder. Cover the water in a pot or mug and allow it to drain for 15-20 minutes. Then filter the leaves, add honey if desired and enjoy.
- Tulsi powder and supplements are also available for consumption in the market.
Side Effects of Consuming Tulsi:
- Tulsi can affect fertility of women who are trying to conceive.
- Some people experience nausea or diarrhea when they include basil tea for the first time in their diet, so it is best that you start in small amounts and increase your intake over time.
- Tulsi can lower blood sugar and should be used with caution in people who have diabetes and who are taking blood sugar lowering medicines.