Every evening across thousands of households in India a lamp is lit and placed beneath the tulsi plant. It is believed that doing this will protect the household from any kind of harm. The tulsi plant is kept in a traditional planter within the compound of the family home. As old homes made way for high rises, the tulsi plant lost its place. Yet, given the therapeutic properties of tulsi, you must make some space for it, even if you live in an apartment.
The tulsi plant, called basil in English, is a plant of the mint family and it is revered and worshipped in our country. It is a very useful herb. The word Tulsi means incomparable and it is truly an incomparable herb that is used in many forms for many purposes. It grows in multiple varieties, each as useful as the other. Basil, of course, is a critical ingredient of Thai and Italian cuisine.
In the Ayurveda system of medicine, the tulsi plant has been used in medicines and tonics and is said to cure various ailments and protect against others.
Here are 17 benefits of tulsi:
1. Fever and cold: The leaves of tulsi are used to treat fevers and cold. Specifically, fevers caused due to dengue and malaria are said to respond well to a decoction of tender tulsi leaves boiled in water with the addition of cardamom (in the ratio of 1:0.3) taken with sugar and milk. A few leaves of tulsi added to tea can also be used as a preventive against these infections.
The extract of tulsi leaves in fresh water given every two or three hours can effectively bring down fever in children.
2. Cough: Tulsi is one of the main ingredients in many cough syrups and expectorants. To make a cough remedy at home, boil about fifteen leaves of tulsi in two cups of water for about ten minutes. Then strain the extract and mix in a tablespoon of lemon juice in the liquid. This is an excellent cough prevention medicine and relieves the symptoms if you have already caught one.
Another way of using tulsi is by adding the leaves to some water along with a spoonful of turmeric powder and boiling for ten minutes. Strain and cool the liquid, add a teaspoon of honey to this to make a wonderful natural remedy.
3. Sore Throat: Gargling with water that has been boiled with tulsi leaves can relieve a sore throat. This water can also be taken as a drink throughout the day to relieve the pain of a sore throat.
4. Respiratory infection or disorders: Tulsi is a very effective treatment for various respiratory system ailments as it contains substances that mobilise the mucous. A decoction of tulsi leaves taken with some honey and ginger juice can give effective relief from influenza, bronchitis and asthma. In case of influenza, the decoction of tulsi with some cloves and salt provides immediate relief.
5. Kidney Stones: Basil leaves are said to help keep the kidneys healthy and function better. In case of kidney stones the regular consumption of the juice of tulsi or basil leaves with honey results in the expulsion of the stones through the urinary tract. Acetic acid and other components in its essential oils helps in breaking down kidney stones and its analgesic effect helps dull down the pain of kidney stones. The detoxifying effect of tulsi helps to reduce uric acid which is the cause of formation of kidney stones. Therefore, regular intake of tulsi can prevent the formation of kidney stones.
6. Diabetes: Tulsi leaves are rich in antioxidants, and the essential oils of the plant has eugenol, methyl eugenol and caryophyllene. These chemicals keep the pancreatic beta cells healthy and help it function properly. Sensitivity to insulin is increased and blood sugar is also lowered, thus combating diabetes effectively. However, it should be noted that tulsi may cause low blood sugar in a person suffering from diabetes. Therefore, if using tulsi for treatment of diabetes this should be done only after consulting a physician and blood sugar should be monitored regularly.
7. Heart disorders: The antioxidant Eugenol present in the leaves of the tulsi plant has the effect of lowering cholesterol in the blood and keeping blood pressure under control. Chewing on the leaves of tulsi on an empty stomach every day helps to keep the cholesterol levels and blood pressure low and protects the heart.