Tulsi or Basil (Ocimum Sanctum)
Tulsi or Basil - History and Traditional Uses
For thousands of years, tulsi (as it is known in India), or basil as it is commonly known, is a medicinal herb that is grown and revered in almost every home in India.
In India, tulsi (basil) is a revered native plant which has a place in all Hindu ceremonies and rituals. It is likely that it earned this place of honor due to its profound healing attributes which were understood and applied by the communities in which it grew. Tulsi (basil) and its healing power represent times past when people were deeply connected with nature and tapped into its treasures to find healing. In India, though the usage may have dwindled in medicinal prescriptions, tulsi still holds a place in many household courtyards, and is ceremoniously worshipped on special occasions as a symbol of prosperity and good health.
Traditionally, all parts of tulsi (basil) are used by itself or in combination with other herbs to alleviate a number of ailments and conditions. Tulsi’s (basil) fragrant leaves and flowers in the form of tea, tincture, or decoction are an effective expectorant that alleviates symptoms of bronchitis, cough, diarrhea and skin conditions. Tulsi (basil) is also used as a prophylactic against epidemics like cholera, influenza, malaria and plague. Its uses as a mucilaginous and demulcent are well known, and the seeds are taken mixed in water or cow’s milk for its antioxidant and nourishing properties. This is generally used to boost low energy levels, cure ulcers, relieve vomiting and also as an analgesic when used topically to soothe insect bites and stings.Tulsi (basil) is also known to promote sexual stamina.
Tulsi (basil) is an energy-enhancing herb which is very similar in action and composition to other healing herbs such as ginseng and eleuthero. As a medicinal herb, tulsi (basil) improves resistance to stress, boosts immune function, normalizes blood pressure and blood sugar imbalance when eaten on a regular basis in the form of tea or tincture. It also protects and provides prophylactic effects against toxicity in the environment. Tulsi (basil) is rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, C and calcium.
The chemical constituents of tulsi (basil) contain a variety of biologically active compounds such as ursolic acid, apigenin and luteolin. The special attributes of tulsi (basil) are not easily understood at a microscopic level since it constitutes hundreds of healing substances known as phytochemicals. These phytochemicals have disease-fighting, antitoxin, and immunity-boosting qualities that promote vitality, energy, general health, natural immunity and longevity.
This medicinal herb acts as an antibacterial/antiparasitic and therefore is widely used to treat infectious diseases. It is often used as an effective natural cure for upper respiratory tract infections like colds, coughs and bronchitis. It helps in preventing flatulence and constipation. Tulsi (basil) is an excellent expectorant and helps relieve symptoms of bronchitis and asthmatic conditions.
Tulsi (basil) acts as an anti-pyretic, smooth muscle relaxer, adaptogenic, immune system enhancer, and antioxidant. Cosmetically, it is known to have anti-aging properties, making the skin glow and appear youthful.
Chemomodulatory efficacy of Basil leaf (Ocimum basilicum) on drug metabolizing and antioxidant enzymes, and on carcinogen-induced skin and forestomach papillomagenesis, Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology, Feb 2004, D. asgupta, T. ; Rao, A.R. ; Yadava, P.K.