Tulsi or Holy Basil is an aromatic plant that belongs to the basil family Lamiaceae with the botanic names Ocimum tenuiflorum and ocimum sanctum. It is widely known as “Queen of Herbs” and the ‘Mother Medicine of Nature”.
It is one of the popular varieties of basil that are mostly grown in the South Asian Regions. Rama Tulsi, Krishna Thulsi and Vana Thulsi are the Holy Basil varieties grown in India. Due to its medicinal properties, these are known as medicinal holy basil and is revered as the “Elixir of life” in the oldest medicinal practice Ayurveda.
According to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, Thulsi is an adaptogenic herb which has a wide array of medicinal properties that can enhance our health and well-being.
Medicinal Properties of Tulsi (Holy Basil)
In Ayurveda, Tulsi (Holy Basil) is recommended and used to treat several diseases. The range of diseases, that are effectively treated with Tulsi include
Science has just begun to confirm its medicinal properties and its extract is used in many Ayurvedic medicines available in the market including cough syrups.. Several scientific studies have been conducted on Tulsi plant and these studies reveal that it has a unique combination of pharmacological actions against many diseases and has antimicrobial (anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral) properties.
In addition to this, It has cognitive and memory enhancing properties. It can relieve stress and psychological disorders like anxiety and depression. It also effectively reduces organ stress caused by external pollutants and prevent the development of stress related diseases. Physicians recommend regular consumption of Tulsi tea as an essential lifestyle practice.
Use of Tulsi (Holy Basil) as a Culinary Herb
The use of Basil as a culinary herb is well-known.The varieties that are used mostly for culinary purposes are Sweet Basil (Ocimum Bacilicum). Holy Basil (Thulsi) are also used while preparing dishes to enhance its taste and flavour. It is added mainly to soups, desserts, herbal drinks and teas. Leaves are added to fruit dishes as seasoning and often used with vinegar and olive oil.
Seeds when soaked has gelatinous property and are used in deserts and drinks such as sherbet and faluda. It can be used fresh, frozen or dried. As it is one of the few herbs that increase the flavour when heated, it is only used with discretion.
Thulsi as Part of Spirituality
Worshiping Thulsi is an age old custom existed in Indian Hindu families and they used Thulsi leaves as part of their spiritual rituals. In front of each Hindu family, there would be a Thulsi plant and they would water it, light a lamp near it and worship it in the belief that it would protect the whole family from evils and bring good luck to them.They often planted it in special pots or Thulsi Thara (Thulsi Vrindavan). Thulsi Thara is a traditional masonry structure constructed in the centre of the central courtyard of most Hindu families specially for planting Thulsi.
The different names of Thulsi are derived from Hindu Mythology and all are related to Lord Vishnu.
Thuls’s Names Related to Lord Vishnu
• Vishnu Thulsi (Beloved of Vishnu)
• Vishnu Vallabha ( Beloved of Vishnu)
• Vaishnavi (Belonging to Vishnu)
Varieties of Thulsi Used for Spiritual Purposes
• Shri Thulsi or Rama Thulsi – Thulsi with green leaves.
• Krishna Thulsi or Shyama Thulsi –Thulsi with purple leaves and stem.
‘She’ represents ‘Lakshmi’ who is considered as the principal consort of ‘Lord Vishnu’. ‘Rama’ and ‘Krishna’ are prominent Avatars of Vishnu. Since the purple colour is similar to Krishna’s dark complexion, Krisna Thulsi is considered especially sacred for ‘Lord Krishna’.
Growing Tulsi (Holy Basil)
Basil is an annual plant and generally grows up to 12-14 inches. Its height and shape of leaves differ according to its variety.It grows well in nutrient rich, well-drained and slightly acidic soil. Sunlight, heat and regular watering are the basic requirements for Basils to grow well. It always needs warm conditions and will not tolerate cold.
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It can be grown indoors or out. It can also be planted in pots or window-boxes and grows well in large pots under the right conditions like light, heat and daily watering. For the holy basil to grow as a compact little bush in your pot, do not let it bloom or seed. Instead pinch out the plant tops.
Basil have the ability to repel flies, insects and mosquitos. Due to the germicidal properties and the ability to repel flies, basils are planted among tomatoes in the garden for overcoming both insects and diseases.
The fragrance and properties of Tulsi varies according to the quantities and types of the essential oils contained in it. Eugenol, methyl chavicol, citral, linalool, cineol and methyl cinnamate, camphene and anethole are the important essential oils contained in Basil varieties.
Sudha Jeevan, a passionate blogger (around the topics health, lifestyle and self-improvement) having eight years experience. Associated with Forskolin and Dr. Oz: Latest Supplement Facts and Effects