Ocimum tenuiflorum, also known as Ocimum sanctum, holy basil, or tulasī, is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae which is native to the Indian subcontinent and widespread as a cultivated plant throughout the Southeast Asian tropics. It is an erect, many branched subshrub, 30–60 cm tall with hairy stems and simple phyllotaxic green or purple leaves that are strongly scented.
Leaves have petioles and are ovate, up to 5 cm long, usually slightly toothed. The flowers are purplish in elongate racemes in close whorls. The two main morphotypes cultivated in India and Nepal are green-leaved (Sri or Lakshmi tulasi) and purple-leaved (Krishna tulasi).
Tulasi is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes, and for its essential oil. It is widely known across the Indian subcontinent as a medicinal plant and an herbal tea, commonly used in Ayurveda, and has an important role within the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism, in which devotees perform worship involving holy basil plants or leaves. This plant is revered as an elixir of life.
1. Healing Power: The tulsi plant has many medicinal properties. The leaves are a nerve tonic and also sharpen memory. They promote the removal of the catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tube.
The leaves strengthen the stomach and induce copious perspiration. The seed of the plant are mucilaginous.
2. Fever & Common Cold: The leaves of basil are specific for many fevers. During the rainy season, when malaria and dengue fever are widely prevalent, tender leaves, boiled with tea, act as preventive against theses diseases. In case of acute fevers, a decoction of the leaves boiled with powdered cardamom in half a liter of water and mixed with sugar and milk brings down the temperature. The juice of tulsi leaves can be used to bring down fever. Extract of tulsi leaves in fresh water should be given every 2 to 3 hours. In between one can keep giving sips of cold water. In children, it is every effective in bringing down the temperature.
3. Coughs: Tulsi is an important constituent of many Ayurvedic cough syrups and expectorants. It helps to mobilize mucus in bronchitis and asthma. Chewing tulsi leaves relieves cold and flu.
4. Sore Throat: Water boiled with basil leaves can be taken as drink in case of sore throat. This water can also be used as a gargle.
5. Respiratory Disorder: The herb is useful in the treatment of respiratory system disorder. A decoction of the leaves, with honey and ginger is an effective remedy for bronchitis, asthma, influenza, cough and cold. A decoction of the leaves, cloves and common salt also gives immediate relief in case of influenza. They should be boiled in half a liter of water till only half the water is left and add then taken.
6. Kidney Stone: Basil has strengthening effect on the kidney. In case of renal stone the juice of basil leaves and honey, if taken regularly for 6 months it will expel them via the urinary tract.
7. Heart Disorder: Basil has a beneficial effect in cardiac disease and the weakness resulting from them. It reduces the level of blood cholesterol.
8. Children’s Ailments: Common pediatric problems like cough cold, fever, diarrhea and vomiting respond favorably to the juice of basil leaves. If pustules of chicken pox delay their appearance, basil leaves taken with saffron will hasten them.
9. Stress: Basil leaves are regarded as an ‘adaptogen’ or anti-stress agent. Recent studies have shown that the leaves afford significant protection against stress. Even healthy persons can chew 12 leaves of basil, twice a day, to prevent stress. It purifies blood and helps prevent several common elements.
10. Mouth Infections: The leaves are quit effective for the ulcer and infections in the mouth. A few leaves chewed will cure these conditions.
11. Insect Bites: The herb is a prophylactic or preventive and curative for insect stings or bites. A teaspoonful of the juice of the leaves is taken and is repeated after a few hours. Fresh juice must also be applied to the affected parts. A paste of fresh roots is also effective in case of bites of insects and leeches.
12. Skin Disorders: Applied locally, basil juice is beneficial in the treatment of ringworm and other skin diseases. It has also been tried successfully by some naturopaths in the treatment of leucoderma.
13. Teeth Disorder: The herb is useful in teeth disorders. Its leaves, dried in the sun and powdered, can be used for brushing teeth. It can also be mixed with mustered oil to make a paste and used as toothpaste. This is very good for maintaining dental health, counteracting bad breath and for massaging the gums. It is also useful in pyorrhea and other teeth disorders.
14. Headaches: Basil makes a good medicine for headache. A decoction of the leaves can be given for this disorder. Pounded leaves mixed with sandalwood paste can also be applied on the forehead for getting relief from heat, headache, and for providing coolness in general.
15. Eye Disorders: Basil juice is an effective remedy for sore eyes and night-blindness, which is generally caused by deficiency of vitamin A. Two drops of black basil juice are put into the eyes daily at bedtime.