Holy Basil or generaly called as Tulsi is also known as the elixir of life because it promotes longevity. It is a symbol of virtue. Tulsi is cultivated for both religious and medicinal purposes, and for its essential oil. It is widely known across South Asia as a medicinal plant and a herbal tea, commonly used in Ayurveda.
The Tulsi essential oil extracted contains eugenic, caracole, and caryophyllene, which have antimicrobial and insecticidal properties. The stem is made into beads and used as a rosary by Hindus. It is also an environment purifier.
|Botanical name:||Ocimum tenuiflorum L.|
|Common names:||Vrinda, Tulsi (Hindi)
Tulasi, Vishnupirya, Manjari, Vrinda (Sanskrit)
|Distribution:||Throughout India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines|
Tulsi means matchless, Vrinda means a cluster of flowers. The name tulsi is used all over India and known as a sacred plant in the Hinduism. The tulsi plant emits oxygen for twenty hours and ozone for four hours. It is a cyclo-oxygate which regulates oxygen evolution, a mechanism found only in the tulsi.
Tulsi plant is a vertical upright, profusely-branched shrub, 30–75 cm tall, with hairy stems and simple green leaves that are strongly scented. Holy Basil is native to India, grown near temples and in homes throughout the country. Tulsi is found in a wide variety of conditions, up to 1800 m in the Himalayas and down in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Medicinal Uses of Holy Basil
- The juice extracted from the leaf cures fever, dysentery, skin infections, and intestinal worms and reduces vomiting. The juice mixed with honey cures cough, cold, bronchitis, and mouth infections. The oil extracted from its leaf is an antiseptic. A paste of its root acts as an antidote to snake poisoning and scorpion bite.
- Tulsi has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. It is mentioned in the Charaka Samhita. Tulsi is considered to balance different processes in the body and helps adapt to stress.
- Tulsi leaves are used to cure coughs and colds, headaches, stomach disorders, heart disease, some forms of poisoning, and malaria. Traditionally, tulsi is taken as herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf, or mixed with ghee.
- Essential oil extracted from the tulsi is used for medicinal purposes and in herbal cosmetics, and is widely used in skin preparations due to its antibacterial activity.
- Dried tulsi leaves are mixed with stored grains to repel insects.
A cup of Tulsi Tea
This tea blend is made for the winters, to support the immune system with virus-busting herbs. It can really help make a bad day better, and it tastes good, too.
- ½ cup dried holy basil
- ¼ cup dried rose petals
- 2 tablespoons finely minced crystallized ginger
Blend all the ingredients well and store in an airtight container. Use 1 heaping teaspoon per cup (235 ml) of water. This can be drunk several times a day.
Benefits of Tulsi Tea
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces high blood sugar
- Promotes circulation
- Treats respiratory ailments
- Combats aging
- Supports the immune system
- Combats stress
- Improves digestion
- Combats headaches
- Reduces fever
- Eases depression
Mythological and Religious Associations of Holy Basil
In Hindu tradition tulsi plant is considered as auspicious, so a house without a tulsi plant is considered to be incomplete. Hindus plant the holy basil in front of or near their homes, often in a special square base about 60–75 cm high. It is worshipped daily and tended carefully as a source of good health and long life for members of the family.
Tulsi is worshipped as an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. Water mixed with tulsi petals is given to the dying, so that their departing souls may reach heaven. Tulsi is regarded as a consort of Krishna.
There are three types of tulsi. Rama tulsi has light green leaves and is larger in size. Shyama or Krishna tulsi has purple leaves and is important in the worship of Hanuman. In Varanasi, it is grown next to Hanuman temples, as an expression of Sita. The third is the Vana or wild leaf tulsi, which is found in the Himalayas and the plains of India, where it grows as a naturalized plant. Although all three types of tulsi are used in Ayurveda, Rama and Krishna tulsi are the most common.
The holy basil is believed to be a destroyer of demons and evil spirits. During an eclipse, leaves sprinkled with Ganga water are put into drinking water. Widows and the old worship the shrub to attain salvation; unmarried girls worship the tulsi for a happy married life and married couples worship the plant for happiness and to be blessed with children.
Tulsi is ceremonially married to Vishnu annually in the month of Kartika, which falls in mid-October. This ritual is called 'tulsi vivaaha', or the wedding of the tulsi plant to Lord Vishnu. This day also marks the end of the four-month chaturmasya period which is considered inauspicious for weddings and other rituals. The annual marriage season begins with the tulsi vivaaha. The ritual lighting of lamps each evening during Kartika includes the worship of the tulsi plant, which is held to be auspicious.