Basil is a collective term used to denote some herbs that belong to the mint family Lamiaceae. There are different types of basil, that are used for culinary purposes, for landscaping, for worship, and for healing. One of the commonly used basil variety is Ocimum basilicum. Otherwise known as sweet basil, this is a popular culinary herb in Italian and Southeast Asian cuisine.
Another popular variety is Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum (holy basil), which is native to India. Otherwise known as tulasi or tulsi, this plant is highly valued for its healing properties and religious uses. It is strongly associated with the traditions of Hinduism and is also worshiped.
Holy basil is a shrub with hairy and woody stems having opposite leaves. As compared to sweet basil, the leaves of holy basil are slightly serrated and oval. They have a very strong scent. Generally, two types of holy basil are found. One is with green leaves and the other one with purplish leaves. While the former is known as Rama Tulsi or Lakshmi Tulsi, the latter is called Krishna Tulsi. Even the taste of this basil is different from that of sweet basil, which has a licorice-like flavor. Holy basil is often compared to cloves, for its spicy and hot flavor. So, it is also called hot basil or pepper basil.
Holy basil or tulsi is commonly used as a medicinal herb, and is used extensively in Ayurveda. Herbal tea prepared with holy basil is used for treating numerous ailments. Various studies have been conducted about the curative properties of holy basil. While some studies suggest that this herb may be beneficial in controlling diabetes; others recommend holy basil for reducing high cholesterol levels. Tulsi contains various beneficial compounds, like rosmarinic acid, oleanolic acid, eugenol, ursolic acid, carvacrol, linalool, and β-caryophyllene.
- Holy basil is one of the popular remedies for cold and fever. Tulsi juice is said to be beneficial for bringing down high body temperature. For this purpose, fresh tulsi extract is administered in diluted form, at regular intervals of three to four hours. It is also used for preventing cold and fever, especially, during rainy season.
- Holy basil is popular for its use in treating skin problems. Application of fresh tulsi extract is found to be beneficial for relief from acne. Even ingestion of tulsi leaves is said to be effective for treating some skin ailments.
- Holy basil is also used to reduce the swelling and burning sensation caused by insect bites. Sometimes, it is mixed with turmeric powder and applied on insect bites.
- Tulsi is also used for treating respiratory problems, like asthma and bronchitis. It is said to be effective to control cough, loosen mucus accumulation, and to reduce congestion of lungs. It is also claimed that holy basil is effective in treating tuberculosis.
- Holy basil is one of those herbs, that is popular for treating oral and dental conditions. Being antibacterial in nature, holy basil is said to be good for getting rid of bacteria in the mouth, thereby preventing dental and oral diseases. It makes the gums stronger and promotes healing of ulcers.
- Being rich in antioxidants, tulsi is said to be beneficial for preventing heart diseases. According to some studies, it can protect the body from the action of free radicals. It is also believed that, tulsi has cholesterol reducing properties.
- Holy basil is said to have diuretic properties, and is also claimed to be good for detoxification. It is used for reducing the levels of uric acid in blood, thereby cutting down the risk of kidney stones. It is also claimed that some of the tulsi components can dissolve kidney stones.
- Tulsi is also used for treating eye problems. Tulsi leaves are soaked in water, which is used as an eyewash; which is used by those affected with conjunctivitis or pink eye, for alleviating the symptoms associated with the condition. Ingestion of tulsi leaves is also said to be beneficial for good vision.
- Tulsi or holy basil is one of the popular home remedies for headache. Tulsi leaves are crushed and mixed with sandalwood paste, before applying on the forehead.
- Holy basil is also used for relief from stress. Being categorized as an adaptogen, tulsi leaves are found to be effective in combating stress. It is said that ingestion of a few tulsi leaves daily is sufficient for this purpose.
- Tulsi is also used as a sore throat remedy. In order to treat sore throat, ingestion of water boiled with a few tulsi leaves, is recommended. Even gargling with this water may prove beneficial for the same.
- Tulsi is also an immunity booster. It protects the body from pathogens, thereby preventing infections. Even the action of free radicals is countered by tulsi. So, it enhances the immunity of the user.
- One of the 15 benefits of the holy basil is its anti aging properties. As per Ayurveda, tulsi is said to be good for retaining youth. Being rich in antioxidants, tulsi may be an excellent anti-aging agent.
- Tulsi is also used for promoting digestive health. It is said to be effective in treating dyspepsia and dysentery. Even flatulence, gas, and cramps are said to be relieved with this herb.
- Tulsi is also used for getting rid of intestinal parasites. Some people use a mixture of tulsi and ginger juice for this purpose.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.