Ayurveda, the ancient holistic health care system, places great importance on the healing powers of the ‘holy basil’ or Tulsi plant. This bushy shrub has oval serrated leaves that come in colours ranging from light green to dark purple, depending on the variety. It has delicate, lavender coloured flowers, and the fruit consists of tiny, rust coloured nuts. Tulsi grows abundantly in warm climates. In Kerala, a beautiful tropical paradise in South India, Tulsi can be seen almost everywhere, in gardens, in pots, in fields and on the roadside. Dark or Shyama Tulsi and light or Rama Tulsi are the two main varieties, with the former possessing greater medicinal value. The leaves of the plant are a rich source of essential oil, containing eugenol, nerol, camphor, and a variety of terpenes and flavonoids. The oil is a strong antiseptic against many kinds of disease-causing organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and parasites… in fact, according to Ayurveda, Tulsi promotes purity of mind, body and soul.
“The Mother Medicine of Nature”
In Ayurvedic texts, Tulsi is often referred to as “The Mother Medicine of Nature”- and with good reason. The leaves are a nerve tonic and are useful for sharpening the memory. They help to expel catarrah and phlegm from the bronchial tube. During the rainy season, the tender leaves, boiled with tea, act as preventive against malaria and dengue fever. The juice of tulsi leaves is very effective in bringing it down high fever. For relief from a sore throat, water boiled with basil leaves can be used as a gargle and taken as drink too. A decoction of the leaves, with honey and ginger is an effective remedy for bronchitis, asthma, influenza, cough and cold.
Tulsi leaves are very effective in the case ulcers and infections in the mouth. All you have to do is chew a few leaves daily on a regular basis to prevent these problems. The leaves, dried in the sun and powdered, can be used for brushing teeth. They can also be mixed with mustard oil to make toothpaste that is very good for maintaining dental health, counteracting bad breath and for massaging the gums.
The juice of tulsi leaves is a preventive as well as a cure for insect bites. Applied locally, the juice is beneficial in the treatment of ringworm and other skin diseases. Pounded Tulsi leaves mixed with sandalwood paste can also be applied on the forehead for getting relief from heat and headache, Two drops of black basil juice put into the eyes daily at bedtime is an effective remedy for sore eyes.
Good for the Body, Mind and Soul
In case of renal stones the juice of basil leaves and honey, if taken regularly for 6 months will expel small stones via the urinary tract. Tulsi reduces the level of blood cholesterol and is therefore beneficial in cardiac disease.Tulsi leaves are regarded as an ‘adaptogen’ or anti-stress agent. Chewing 12 leaves of tulsi twice a day, prevents stress, purifies the blood and helps prevent several common ailments. In addition, tulsi seems to influence the neurochemistry of the brain in a way similar to antidepressant medications.
Tulsi also has spiritual significance. In Hindu mythology, the plant is an incarnation of the goddess Tulsi, offering divine protection. Many Indian families keep a living Tulsi plant in their homes – tending to it with great care and reverence- for tulsi is truly good for the body, mind and soul.