Tulsi, the Holy Basil Plant
Holy Basil is a Natural Remedy for Many Ailments
Tulsi, or holy basil, has been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years in India and other parts of Asia. It is a common ingredient in many Ayurvedic remedies for common colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, malaria, and some forms of poisoning. Tulsi has centuries of traditional lore to back up its status as an "elixir of life," but it's also got more recent scientific studies to show that it's helpful in reducing cholesterol and blood glucose levels, lowering stress, and reducing inflammation. It's an antioxidant, antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, and adaptogen. And it's so amazing that the government of India is enlisting it in the fight to save the Taj Mahal from environmental pollution. Whew! Pretty impressive list of accomplishments for one small basil plant.
Photo credit: Muhammad Mahdi Karim
Medicinal Benefits of the Holy Basil Plant
More about this plant
Basil grows on every continent, but the holy basil, or tulsi, plant (Ocimum sanctum) is indigenous to India. It's a bushy shrub that only grows to about 18 inches, and has lavender-colored flowers. It is grown by many Indian families, as it also has religious significance to Hindus, as well as medicinal benefits.
Holy basil has been shown through studies and through thousands of years of use to have beneficial effects on many ailments, from diabetes to stress. Here are just a few of the benefits. For specific medicinal needs, be sure to speak with a qualified health practitioner.
1. Anti-inflammatory - Helps reduce painful inflammation of conditions such as arthritis
2. Antioxidant - Helps protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.
3. Respiratory health - Tulsi is a common ingredient in Ayurvedic remedies for coughs, cold and flu.
4. Radiation protection - Has been shown to protect healthy cells from the toxicity of radiation and chemotherapy
5. Stress reducer - Tulsi is an adaptogen, shown to help your body manage the physical and psychological effects of stress.
Holy Basil Extract - Buy tulsi supplements online
This tulsi supplement promotes calmness, relaxation, and mental well-being and yields 9 mg of ursolic acid (shown to inhibit the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme) per serving.
Organic Tulsi Tea - Indian chai with tulsi and black tea
One common way of taking Tulsi is as a tea. There are several varieties of Tulsi tea available online and offline. This one contains tulsi mixed with black tea and traditional chai spices.
Ingredients: 100% Organic Tulsi leaves (Ocimum Sanctum), 100% Organic black tea, 100% organic cloves, 100% organic cardamom, 100% organic cinnamon
Holy Basil and Ayurvedic Medicine - A video listing some of the medicinal properties of Tulsi
Perhaps the most unusual use of the Tulsi plant is a government plan to use it to help clean the air of pollutants near the famous Taj Mahal. According to the Times of India,the Uttar Pradesh forest department is working with an Indian company to plant one million tulsi saplings in Agra, where the Taj is located, in an attempt to eliminate air-borne pollutants that are damaging the ancient monument.
Environmentalists, however, aren't so sure the super plant can accomplish the job. "The Taj can be saved only by tall trees which can filter the air," green activist Ravi Singh told the Indo-Asian News Service.
Ways to Use Holy Basil
Natural remedies using Tulsi
Stomachache - Take one spoon each of basil and ginger juice to cure cramps and stomachache, according to AyurvedicCure.com.
Stress - Chew 12 leaves of basil, twice a day, to prevent stress, according to About.com.
General health - Nibble on a few leaves every day, according to the Chopra Center.
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