Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) isn’t your basic basil that’s used commonly in marinara sauce. The green leafy plant, also known as tulsi, is native to Southeast Asia and has traditionally been a vital ingredient in Indian medicines used to treat multiple conditions – from eye diseases and bronchitis to stomach ulcers and malaria.
You’d be amazed to know the raft of holy basil benefits. From its leaves to the seeds, the plant is truly a wonder tonic for both body and mind. With that said, read on to know more about the types of tulsi, the various uses of tulsi, and the range of medicinal benefits it bestows.
There are primarily three types of tulsi, namely:
You can tell Rama tulsi from its characteristic purple flowers, a clove-like scent due to the presence of eugenol (a chemical compound commonly extracted from clove oil), and a mellow flavour of its leaves.
Also called ‘Shyama tulsi’, this purple-leaved holy basil has a signature peppery, crisp taste. This type of holy basil is widely used for treating infections of the throat, skin, lungs, and ears. The oil extracted from Krishna tulsi is used as ear drops. Different parts of the Krishna tulsi are used to treat indigestion, insomnia, malaria, and cholera.
This type of holy basil is native to India, Sri Lanka, and parts of Northeast Africa. Steeped in Indian religious beliefs, the Vana tulsi grows in sunny and dry areas and consumed for a host of medicinal benefits. Its characteristic light green leaves and a lemony flavour differentiate the Vana tulsi from the other holy basil types.
Vana tulsi leaves are used for preparing tea and other concoctions. Consuming Vana tulsi tea betters the body’s immune functions, improves stamina and alertness, and introduces a host of beneficial nutrients to the bloodstream.
Read on to know why the holy basil has been labelled ‘The Queen of Herbs’, and the several medicinal uses of tulsi.
Studies have shown that all the parts of the holy basil act as adaptogens. These natural substances help your body deal with stress and promote mental wellbeing. Scientific research endorses the various pharmacological properties of the holy basil and their calming effect on the mind.
Generally, stress can stem from physical, chemical, emotional, or infectious sources. Multiple studies on the holy basil have reported reduced stress levels, improved sleep, alertness, and enhanced vitality in humans.
According to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, the tulsi plant is replete with anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties comparable to diazepam and other anxiety relievers. One study revealed that people who consumed 500 mg of holy basil extracts regularly experienced significantly reduced anxiety and stress levels. People have also reported feeling more social.
Ayurveda practitioners recommend the intake of tulsi tea in the morning. Considering it’s caffeine-free, one can drink tulsi tea daily and reap its multi-faceted benefits, including experiencing calm and overall wellbeing.
The extracts of the holy basil leaves are used on wounds and injuries to boost healing. According to Indian medicine, the tulsi is an analgesic and has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Sometimes, holy basil extracts are used to heal post-surgical wounds.
Research ratifies the myriad uses of tulsi in treating wounds and infections like mouth ulcers, raised scars, keloids (fibrous tissue that forms at the site of an injury or a scar), and acne. In essence, holy basil is your all-natural first aid.
If you have diabetes, you can use all the parts of the holy basil to lower your blood sugar levels. Multiple human trials have confirmed tulsi’s uses vis-à-vis preventing the onset of diabetes and alleviating symptoms like weight gain, high LDL (bad cholesterol), hypertension, insulin resistance, and hyperinsulinemia (a condition marked by excess levels of insulin in the blood).
However, make sure you speak to the doctor before integrating holy basil with your diet. Remember that if you already are on blood sugar medications, consuming tulsi leaves or using its extracts can further reduce blood sugar levels.
READ: These are the best foods to lower blood sugar
The uses of tulsi are genuinely countless. Did you know that a cup of soothing tea made with the extracts of holy basil leaves can help you cope with stress and alleviate inflammation? Considering tulsi is an adaptogen loaded with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s no surprise that it can bestow these benefits.
According to certain studies, holy basil can also help lessen the severity of fibromyalgia (a chronic condition causing body pain and perpetual tiredness) and arthritis.
The use of holy basil can defend the body against stress-induced ulcers. Regular use of tulsi can better the stomach’s defence naturally by reducing stomach acid secretion, increasing the secretion of mucus, and prolonging mucus cells’ life.
Many people have reported discomfort and other side effects when administered peptic ulcer medications. Holy basil, in this case, can be a genuine alternative.
Tulsi is arguably the safest skin ointment in the market today. You can either consume it or topically apply this wonder herb on your skin to treat acne (or skin allergies) and lessen dark spots. The uses of tulsi are manifold – it brightens the skin, cures acne, and serves as a skin-tightening agent (when mixed with eggs).
Holy basil leaves contain eugenol and magnesium that can promote blood flow to your scalp. Massaging tulsi juice on your scalp serves to stimulate blood circulation and lessen hair fall. The holy basil juice also prevents dandruff and the scalp from drying, improving overall hair health.
Tulsi may help to fight conjunctivitis (pink eye) and boils. The holy basil’s anti-inflammatory properties have a soothing effect on the eyes, protecting them from free radical damage resulting from oxidative stress.
The different parts of holy basil are used to treat a variety of conditions:
Numerous studies have, over the years, corroborated the therapeutic benefits of the holy basil. The tulsi is also high in nutritional value, considering it contains:
You can incorporate holy basil in your daily life in several ways. You can cook with it, consume in the form of supplements, or make a soothing concoction with it. It is also available as essential oils.
You must consult the doctor before adding holy basil (or its supplements) to your diet. For all the uses of tulsi, remember that there isn’t a ton of research endorsing its efficacy on infants, pregnant, and lactating women. Like other supplements, tulsi extracts may not be prescribed as the first line of defence. Also, it can interfere with other medications.
While no adverse effects have been reported, one should avoid tulsi while trying to conceive. A few animal studies show that regular and uncontrolled holy basil usage may hurt fertility.
Good ans helpful knowledge about benefits of Tulsi
Now that you know which are the best teas, you might be wondering why you should drink them – especially instead of, say, a cup of coffee? What exactly is green tea good for?