Basil (Tulsi) Leaves: Health Benefits & Uses
Holy basil or tulsi plant has different names in different languages like divya (Sanskrit), Sri Tulsi (Kannada),Tulasa (Marathi), Tulsi (Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi) and Thulasi (Tamil). It belongs to Mint family (Lamiales) and botanically known as Ocimum tenuiflorum (synonym Ocimum sanctum).
Basil is worshiped and watered (as a ritual) in India in the morning by the Hindu families as suggested through several mythological stories. Watering is temporarily stopped on Sunday due to religious considerations. Basil is believed to be a native of tropical Asia, and probably India. Tulsi is worshiped along with other Hindu deities in Tulsi Manas Mandir at Varanasi. Devotees of lord Vishnu believe that Lord Vishnu becomes happy if offered a Tulsi leaf.The holy basil is also considered traditionally as a herbal remedy for various ailments.
Health Benefits: Tulsi leaf extract is a good expectorant and used as an important constituent of several Ayurvedic cough syrups.
Tender basil leaves are boiled with tea and used as a preventive measure for malaria and dengue fever.
The juice of tulsi leaves or a a decoction of the leaves with powdered cardamom in half a liter of water and mixed with sugar and milk is used to brings down the fever (temperature).
Leaf juice of Tulsi is given to babies to recover from sufferings of cough, diarrhea and bronchitis.
Tulsi extract is believed to be hepatoprotective and diaphoretic,Basil leaves are used to treat skin infections, nausea, sinus, nasal problems and respiratory problems.
Fresh juice of basil leaves is used to treat ear infections. Research findings suggest that basil is useful in reducing blood glucose levels in diabetic patients and lowering total cholesterol levels.
Basil leaves is considered very useful to help digestion and strengthen nervous system. Basil leaves are reported to possess antibiotic properties .
Tannins (gallic acid, chlorogenic acid), ursolic acid, caffeic acids and several other flavonoids are found in the basil leaves. Ursolic acid is the major chemical constituent of the basil leaves.
Common uses: Tulsi leaves are used in several commercial products such as mosquito repellant, blood purifier and cosmetics.The repellant action lasts for 2-3 hours and have insecticidal properties.
Thick aqueous extract paste of the tulsi leaves is applied usually to the face to get rid of the acne opening the pores of the skin.Basil leaves are used for flavoring (aromatic, sweet or pungent) as spice and purple flowers.
It provides protection from radiation poisoning and used as analgesic in case of insect bites.Chemicals present in essential oil have shown antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effects and antimalarial activity.
Despite numerous medicinal properties, tulsi leaves have very low toxicity and side effects.
It is used traditionally in combination with several other herbs and several forms such as fresh or dried leaf (herbal tea),ground or powdered leaf, fresh green leaf, seeds, juice or in powdered form. Dried roots are powdered and taken with milk or ghee as decoction in malarial fever.