The Holy Basil herb, also known as Tulsi, is one of the oldest and most used medicinal herbs. From thousands of years, it has provided the backbone to many treatments amongst Ayurveda physicians. It has also been revered for its spiritual potency and has been referred as “elixir of life” among ancient Ayurvedic texts. Basil contains a wide range of essential oils, rich in phenolic compounds and a wide array of other natural products including polyphenols such as flavonoids and anthocyanins. Basil has high quantities of (E)-beta-caryophyllene (BCP) which is known to have Anti-inflammatory properties.In addition to this, Basil contains volatile oils, which include estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene. These bring about the Anti-bacterial activity.
Let us see the Numerous Benefits of this humble and Sacred Tulsi/Basil:
1. Relieves fever and common cold Tender Tulsi leaves boiled in water also called as the “Kaadha” act as a preventive against malaria and dengue fever. In the case of acute fever, a decoction of the leaves boiled with cardamom powder in half a litre of water mixed with sugar and milk brings down the temperature. Tulsi also protects the human body from all types of viral infections.
2. Cough and respiratory problems: Eating few Tulsi leaves also cures a cough and flu. It helps to relieve mucous in the case of bronchitis and asthma attacks. A decoction of leaves with honey and ginger is an effective remedy for bronchitis, asthma, influenza, and cold. A decoction of leaves, cloves and common salt also relieves influenza. Water boiled with basil leaves can be taken as a drink in case of a sore throat. Tulsi is also used as an important ingredient in the preparation of many cough syrups and expectorants.
3. Improves digestion: Several stomach ailments like acidity, constipation and flatulence can also be cured with Tulsi leaves. Tulsi supports the digestive system and makes one feel less bloated and more comfortable. It also helps people suffering from vomiting and lack of appetite.
4. Tulsi reduces stress and anxiety: Tulsi is well-known for reducing stress and anxiety. A research trial tested 35 people with generalized anxiety disorders within a hospital clinic. The researchers treated the subjects with 1,000 milligrams of Tulsi extract for 60 days. The study found that Holy Basil significantly reduced levels of anxiety, stress and depression among the patients. The mechanisms of this included normalizing blood sugar, modulating corticosterone, attenuating the adrenal glands and balancing creatine kinase.
5. Tulsi fights bacterial infections: A number of studies have investigated Holy Basil’s ability to reduce infections due to bacteria. Much of this antibacterial character of Holy Basil is due to eugenol. Studies have found that eugenol is antimicrobial against Salmonella typhimurium and Micrococcus luteus – both infective bacteria. Holy Basil has been tested against antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella Typhi and it has been found that Tulsi significantly inhibited these strong contagious bacteria. This antibacterial quality of Holy Basil supports the clinical experience of Ayurvedic doctors of ancient times that used Tulsi for conditions related to numerous bacteria infections, including intestinal issues, lung conditions, skin infections and eye infections.
6. Tulsi reduces oxidative stress: Oxidative stress is related to a number of disorders including cardiovascular conditions, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, aches and pains, liver issues and others. Oxidative stress occurs as the body responds to the oxidation of fats and glucose within the body. This oxidation forms free radicals that in turn produce tissue damage. It has been seen that the whole leaf extract of Holy Basil significantly reduced lipid and protein oxidation. The ability of Tulsi to reduce oxidative stress is often referred to as an adaptogen. This means that it helps the body cope with the stresses that burden our bodies from various fronts – whether it be physical, chemical, emotional or otherwise.
7. Holy Basil normalizes blood sugar: This effect relates to Tulsi’s ability to regulate insulin and glucose sensitivity. Studies have shown that Tulsi reduced HbA(1c) levels in diabetics and reduced blood sugar levels along with improved retina health after being fed Tulsi. Other similar studies have confirmed this.
8. Tulsi treats ulcers: Research from the College of Pharmacy at the University of Delhi found that the oil of Holy Basil was able to counteract ulcerative effects. Other studies have confirmed this effect.
9. Holy Basil treats oral fibrosis: A study was done in which 41 patients were treated with a mixture of Tulsi and turmeric (50/50). The patients applied a paste of the mix 3-4 times a day. Blood samples together with ratings of burning sensations found that the Tulsi and turmeric combination resulted in a significant improvement among the treated patients.
10. Tulsi speeds fracture healing: Research has also investigated the use of Tulsi for bone healing. The researchers treated 29 cases of bone fractures in the mandible (jawbone). The researchers found that the Tulsi-treated group had faster healing of their fractures and resulted in greater bone tensile strength. This was tested among the patients by measuring the strength of their bites.
11. Holy Basil helps prevent cardiovascular disease: Research from India’s University of Hyderabad found that Tulsi produced anti-inflammatory effects related to reducing cardiovascular disease. Extracts of Holy Basil reduced levels of inflammatory cytokines which lead to heart disease. Other studies have shown that Tulsi consumption reduces LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides while increasing HDL-cholesterol.
12. Holy Basil is a mosquito repellent: The ability of the oil of Holy Basil to repel mosquitoes has been shown in case studies. The application of the oil onto the skin, clothing or mosquito nets has been shown to be of practical use in the prevention of malaria and other mosquito-transmitted diseases. Other research has shown it repels a number of other insects.
13. Tulsi helps prevent and treat cancer: Tulsi has been shown to prevent DNA damage and the potential for tumour creation in a number of studies. Researchers have also tested human lymphocytes in the laboratory and found that Holy Basil extracts protected against DNA strand breaks. Other studies have shown that Tulsi and its constituents protect against DNA damage related to radiation and chemical exposures.
14. Holy Basil protects the liver: A couple of studies have investigated Tulsi’s ability to halt or treat liver damage. Both studies showed Holy Basil had a positive effect upon the liver’s health.
15. Holy Basil boosts immunity: In a research done in India, 24 healthy people were given 300 milligrams of Tulsi each day for four weeks. After the treatment period, those who were given the Tulsi leaf extract showed significantly more T-helper cells, more natural killer cells, and increased IL-4 – indicative of a stronger and more vibrant immune system. Another study showed that Tulsi stimulated the increase in monocytes – THP-1. This is another sign of a stronger immune system.
16. Tulsi increases testosterone: In Animal trials, it has been shown to increase Testosterone levels and sperm counts on supplementation of basil extracts.
17. Holy Basil inhibits Candida: Researchers tested five Ayurvedic medicinal plants against two Candida species – C. albicans and C. tropicalis. Of the five herbal extracts tested, an oil extract of Tulsi showed the greatest inhibition against Candida species.
18. Holy Basil inhibits parasite infections: Researchers have found that Tulsi, in particular, was able to inhibit Leishmania. Leishmania is caused by several species of parasites called Leishmania parasites – often spread through sand flies in some parts of the world.
19. Tulsi helps prevent dental caries, gingivitis and periodontal disease: Studies have shown that Holy Basil is effective against a number of infective bacteria. These included Prevotella intermedia and Fusobacterium nucleatum, two infective bacteria found in gingivitis and other infections. The research tested Holy Basil as a mouthwash and tested it against chlorhexidine as well as a placebo. The research found that the Holy Basil wash inhibited bacteria similarly to chlorhexidine – a potent antibacterial agent.
20. Tulsi is analgesic: Ancient Ayurveda suggests that Tulsi is useful to reduce pain in various conditions. This ability has been confirmed in a number of studies, as Holy Basil has been shown to inhibit the cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) enzyme – the inflammatory enzyme known to stimulate pain as a response. Researchers also found this ability in tests of Tulsi extract on human non-small cell lung cancer cells. The researchers found that the extract significantly suppressed COX-2 enzymes.
21. Tulsi helps in treating kidney stones: One of the Tulsi plant’s uses is that its leaves have a strengthening effect on the kidneys. In the case of renal stones, the consumption of juice of basil leaves mixed with honey helps remove these stones through the urinary tract. Tulsi being a detoxifying agent can help to reduce uric acid level which is the main reason behind kidney stones.
22. Tulsi is an effective remedy for sore eyes: Basil juice is an effective remedy for sore eyes and night-blindness, which is generally caused by lack of Vitamin A. Two drops of basil juice can work wonders for the eyes. It can also protect from conjunctivitis, boils and other problems of the eyes which are caused mainly due to bacterial and fungal infections by washing eyes with water soaked in Tulsi leaves. Basil leaves act as relaxants for your eyes to sooth stress induced fine lines. Chewing a couple of basil leaves helps to ward off eye problems caused by free radicals such as vision degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma.
23. Tulsi helps to get rid of Bad Breath: Bad breath can be detrimental to your self-confidence. Basil leaves can be a healthy substitute to special kinds of toothpaste and chewing gums to ward off bad breath. You can chew a handful of basil leaves to prevent bad breath.
24. Tulsi gives relief from a headache: Basil leaves are considered a great medicine for headaches in Ayurveda. A facial steam of dried basil leaf is effective in alleviating headache. Add a tablespoon of dried basil leaves to 2 cups of water in a large pot. Covering your head with a towel, take the steam for 5 to 10 minutes. You can also apply pounded basil leaves mixed in sandalwood paste on your forehead to get relief from heat and headache as well as cooling effect in general.
25. Prevention Of acne And pimples: Basil leaves prevent the outburst of acne and pimples as they purify your blood by removing toxins. They contain antibacterial and antifungal agents and you can apply a paste of these leaves mixed with sandalwood paste, neem paste or rose water to prevent inflammation.
26. Prevention Of blackheads: The organic compounds in Basil leaves also prevent the appearance of blackheads. Wet the top side of the basil and place one leaf on each side of your nose for 5 minutes. After this take it off and wash your face.
27. Adds glow to the face: Rubbing finely powdered dry Tulsi on the face like a loose powder adds glow to the face glow and removes dark spots from the face.
28. Tightens skin pores: People who have skin with blemishes can also benefit from Tulsi leaves. Make a face pack using one egg white and Tulsi leaves paste. Then rub the mixture gently on the face particularly on the infected areas of the skin. Wash off the face pack after 20 minutes scrubbing it gently. The egg white used will tighten the pores while the Tulsi paste will disinfect the skin and prevent infections which cause pimples and acne.
29. Heals wounds, cuts, and burns: Dry Tulsi leaves in a shade, add alum, grind and sieve well and store the powder in a clean glass bottle. Apply the powder on wounds and cuts. Pain due to burns can be alleviated by applying equal amounts of Tulsi juice and coconut oil mixed in it.
30. Treats dandruff and dry scalp: Add a small quantity of Tulsi oil to regular oils like coconut oil and massage well on your scalp. Tulsi helps to improve the blood circulation and keeps your scalp cool reducing itchiness and dandruff and hence promotes hair growth. You can also apply Tulsi paste which keeps the scalp, roots clean and keeps dandruff at bay. An ancient Ayurvedic practice is to cultivate a Holy Basil plant around or in one’s home. Now we find this practice has some significant validity after studying Tulsi from a medicinal research basis. Get your daily dose of Tulsi today, something that is so easily available in India in our own homes.