By -Meena Ganagani,Practicing Clinical Nutritionist,Mumbai.
In India, Tulsi (Holy Basil) is revered as “The Queen of Herbs” and has traditionally been celebrated for its therapeutic effects on the body, mind and spirit. You will find Tulsi given the place of honour directly in front of temples and homes, and it is widely known as the number one remedy for a range of ailments. Grandmothers will reach for some leaves at the first telling signs for a soothing cup of tea, as Tulsi has been known in Ayurveda for being an effective remedy for fever, coughs and colds.(1)
All the herbs used within Ayurveda, tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn) is preeminent, and scientific research is now confirming its beneficial effects. There is mounting evidence that tulsi can address physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress through a unique combination of pharmacological actions. Tulsi has been found to protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals, and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint and exposure to cold and excessive noise.
Tulsi has also been shown to counter metabolic stress through normalization of blood glucose, blood pressure and lipid levels, and psychological stress through positive effects on memory and cognitive function and through its anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties.
Tulsi’s broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, which includes activity against a range of human and animal pathogens, suggests it can be used as a hand sanitizer, mouthwash and water purifier as well as in animal rearing, wound healing, the preservation of food stuffs and herbal raw materials and traveler’s health. Cultivation of tulsi plants has both spiritual and practical significance that connects the grower to the creative powers of nature, and organic cultivation offers solutions for food security, rural poverty, hunger, environmental degradation and climate change. The use of tulsi in daily rituals is a testament to Ayurvedic wisdom and provides an example of ancient knowledge offering solutions to modern problems. (2)
Tulsi for Immunity
- Tulsi May Optimise Immune Response
Holy basil does wonders, acts as a natural immune system booster and keeps infections at bay. It protects against nearly all infections from viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. Tulsi leaves extract increases the T helper cells and natural killer cells activity, boosting the immune system. (3)
In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology Tulsi is shown as an “immunomodulator”, which refers to agents that improve the functioning of the immune system. The immunomodulatory effects of Tulsi have been demonstrated in controlled trials on human volunteers, resulting in statistically significant increases in the levels of helpful antibodies.
- Tulsi Is Abundant in Antioxidants
Tulsi contains unique antioxidants and micronutrients that may provide powerful immune protection from free radical damage and increase the body’s capacity to fight against disease and infections. Tulsi may protect against toxin-induced injury by increasing the body’s levels of antioxidant molecules and enhancing the activity of antioxidant enzymes. (4)
- Protect Against Infection And Treat Wounds
Extracts made from its leaves are thought to boost wound healing speed and strength. Holy basil is:
- analgesic (a painkiller)
Some people even use holy basil after surgery to heal and protect their wounds. Holy basil increases your wound’s breaking strength, healing time, and contraction. (5)
How to Consume Tulsi?
- Consume Tulsi leaves raw, plucked fresh from the plant, add it in your tea or make kadha out of it.
- Tulsi tea: To make tulsi tea, boil 1 cup of water and pour it over 1 tsp of fresh tulsi leaves, 1/2 tsp of dried tulsi leaves, or 1/3 tsp of tulsi powder. Cover the water in a pot or mug and let it seep for 15-20 minutes. Then strain the leaves, add honey if desired, and enjoy.
- Tulsi powders and supplements are also available in the market for consumption. (6)