Tulsi, which is also known as holy basil, is a plant from the basil family that has been an essential herb in India for thousands of years. The leaves from this plant contain many phytochemicals that have antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Due to the purported medicinal properties of this herb for a wide variety of health ailments, this plant is also referred to as “the queen of herbs.”
This herb is so highly regarded in India that it was an age-old custom to worship it twice a day, and it is still thought by some to bring good luck and to protect from evil. Some people believe that by keeping a potted tulsi plant inside of a house, all inhabitants will be protected from colds, coughs, and viral infections. A few leaves from this plant may be placed into a drink or food to kill germs in addition to bringing spiritual purification to the food or drink.
Tulsi is believed to help control the spread of certain epidemics. During the rainy season, this plant is considered especially beneficial in helping to contain the spread of malaria and dengue because it acts as a repellent against mosquitoes, flies, and insects in general. Due to the germicidal, antiviral, and fungicidal properties of the essential oil, it is also suggested as a home remedy for prevention of several other ailments that may occur in India, such as typhoid, cholera, influenza, and certain fungal infections.
Inhaling or rubbing this oil on the chest is thought to clear lung congestion and facilitate proper breathing. For this reason, alternative medicine practitioners frequently prescribe it for respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis and asthma. Additionally, the mild diuretic nature of tulsi is thought to aid in kidney function and to prevent the formation of kidney stones. Finally, adding this essential oil to bathwater may prevent skin infections.
To serve as an herbal remedy, the dried leaves of tulsi can be prepared as a tea. This herbal tea is promoted for general wellness enhancement and is said to increase both stamina and immunity and to promote healthy metabolism. Other benefits of drinking this herbal tea may be reduction of high blood pressure, regulation of blood sugar, and lowering of cholesterol.
Tulsi is considered a divine plant in ayurveda, the natural system of medicine that has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years. In addition to its many medicinal properties, this plant also carries spiritual significance for practitioners of ayurveda. Hindu mythology states that the tulsi plant is the reincarnation of the goddess Tulsi, who offers divine protection.