Also known as “holy basil,” tulsi is a sacred plant well-known on the Indian subcontinent, with a long tradition of use in Ayurvedic medicine.
Some have called tulsi the “Incomparable One.” Others say it is the “Queen of Herbs” or “The Elixir of Life.” Its health benefits are just that numerous.
By its Latin name, tulsi is referred to as Ocimum sanctum (“sacred fragrant lipped basil”). Botanically, it belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae) and should not be confused with sweet basil used for culinary purposes.
In India, Hindus have long cultivated tulsi as a religious plant. It can be found in homes and temples, where its leaves are a common part of worship routines. It is said to aid meditation and is believed to be endowed with the spiritual power to transform souls.
On a purely physical level, the herb has thousands of years of history as a holistic health agent. It has significant natural antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
When ingested, tulsi is said to lower bad cholesterol and stress-related high blood pressure. It protects the heart and blood vessels, has mild blood thinning qualities and decreases the possibility of strokes.
Tulsi contains vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and zinc as well as chlorophyll and numerous phytonutrients. It provides a significant antioxidant effect, while neutralizing biochemicals that contribute to aging, cancer and degenerative diseases.
Tulsi also enhances digestion, absorption and bodily use of nutrients from food and other herbs. It helps strengthen and modulate the immune system, reducing allergic histamines and alleviating asthmatic and other adverse immune reactions. It is a source of energy and vitality, too.
But those are just a few of tulsi’s almost magical properties . From liver and respiratory problems to skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, it can play a healing role. There is even new evidence that it reduces cell and tissue damage caused by harmful rays of the sun and radiation therapy.
How a single plant can possess so many beneficial qualities is a mystery of nature, but one that modern science is happy to assess and apply as a “new” adaptogen. After all, thousands of years of positive results are hard to ignore.
Alfablue, December 2011