These are the health and beauty benefits of tulsi / tulasi plant also known as holy basil.
(துளசி மூலிகை செடியின் மருத்துவ குணங்கள்)
Tulsi (botanical name: Ocimum Tenuiflorum) is a very special herb for Indians. It is revered because of its medicinal value.
This short aromatic shrub with small green leaves is a natural powerhouse that can help prevent and heal a variety of ailments. No wonder it is considered an elixir of life in Ayurveda.
Growing the plant
These plants used to be found in every backyard in India. They were usually potted in special cement containers (thulasi maadam) right in the middle of the garden under the sun.
The plant has tiny seeds that dry, fall to the ground and self propagate.
The plant needs sunlight and regular watering. It has to be planted in soil that drains well. This is very important because the plant will die if there is too much moisture. I have this plant in a pot and it is generally a no fuss plant. I am not much a of gardener and I have just recently graduated from a “certified plant killer” to “newbie gardener.” Without regular watering, the leaves turn yellow and start to droop. If traveling on a vacation, I leave moist sponges near the root.
Indian government is keenly encouraging citizens to set up terrace gardens. You can get ready made kits to kick start one. Check this link for more information.
Health and beauty benefits of Thulasi plant
How to consume tulasi?
The parts of Tulsi that are generally used are its leaves and seeds especially tender leaves. They are usually consumed raw. The plant has a strong minty taste. Many Indians from the previous generation chew a couple of thulasi leaves in the morning on empty stomach. Tulasi is used not just to treat sicknesses but it is mainly consumed regularly to prevent sickness. Now we live in apartment complexes so very few homes have these plants.
If you live in a country where fresh leaves of holy basil is not available, look for powders in organic shops. You can also take dried leaves from India.
Sore threat and cough
Tulasi leaves are boiled in water and this warm water is sipped to provide relief from sore throat and cough. This is a healthier option than commercially available lozenges. If children find it hard to drink because of the taste, they can simply gargle with it. This water also brings down fever effectively.
Note: Just because something is natural, it does not mean that it is safe for everyone. Natural medicine is effective because it is very potent. So use caution and slowly increase the dose. For kids, boil just 2 leaves in 2 cups of water to make tea.
When suffering from chest cold, children find it difficult to breathe. Breathing becomes harder for kids predisposed to asthma attacks. A decoction made with these leaves dissolves the phlegm and helps eliminate it. Ginger has similar expectorant properties so a tea made with ginger and tulasi leaves is recommended.
Cuts, wounds and insect bites
When skin is inflamed because of minor cuts or wounds, a mixture of coconut oil and paste of the leaves can be applied topically. This leaf has strong aromatic oils that can burn skin especially baby skin. So it is advisable to always dilute it with coconut oil or any oil when applying on skin especially if it is the first time.
When applied on open wounds, it will cause tingling or burning sensation depending on how raw the surface is.
Regular application of this paste will help the wound heal faster and prevent unsightly scars.
Itching caused by insect bites are can make children fussy. Most kids scratch the surface till it bleeds. This paste will soothe the skin and reduce itching while reducing the effect of the venom. However, if the child has been bitten by a really venomous insect, consult a doctor immediately.
Nausea, vomiting and motion sickness
This leaf is an effective anti-emetic. Keep a couple of leaves inside your cheeks and you can enjoy your road trip without motion sickness. This is also helpful in providing relief from morning sickness.
This carminative leaf (relieves gas) helps treat vomiting and diarrhea due to indigestion.
I once saw our otherwise strictly meat eating puppy tug at our tulasi plant and chew the leaves immediately after vomiting because of indigestion. She came to our house as a 2 month old puppy. Who taught her to do this? Not us. We had to sneak veggies into her food. That day we wondered at the wisdom God gives animals and we say that they don’t have sixth sense. Okay that is me, the pet lover, speaking. Back to the topic …..
Tulsi juice gets rid of the worms in the stomach.
Tulasi juice provides relief from menstrual cramps by reducing muscular spasms.
Teething pain and gum disease
When a diluted juice is applied to gums of babies, it provides relief from gum pain during teething.
This leaf is a blessing for those suffering from diabetes as it helps control blood sugar. But a person who consumes this leaf will see a sudden drop in blood sugar level. So it has to be taken with food.
Gargling with water steeped with the leaves can will provide temporary relief from halitosis. But for the root cause to be removed, it has to be consumed regularly.
Acidity, constipation, acid reflux, flatulence and bad breath are symptoms of disturbance in the digestive tract. This digestive aid sort of cleans our respiratory and digestive system.
Skin and hair problems
When the digestive system is functioning properly, it is reflected in a person’s skin and hair.
A paste of the leaves can also be applied externally to prevent blackheads, heal acne and over turn the effects of sun burn.
It is common practice in villages to apply this paste to cure ringworm infections.
Drop a few dried leaves into your hair oil to prevent dandruff.
Tulsi is believed to purify the air by taking in more toxins and releasing oxygen.
Ingesting tulsi leaves is good for overall health. It not only boosts immunity but it also leaves us feeling refreshed and healthy.
I wasn’t very keen on taking the “medicinal tasting” leaves those days. But now I am going behind my daughter telling her, “just 2 leaves….just 2 leaves” …. haha … the cycle continues. 😀
I even offer a tiny piece to my puppy. Unlike the previous puppy, this guy likes to eat veggies. He has a special love for thin slices of snake gourd pieces.
Do you have memories of your parents making you eat tulsi leaves in the morning. Did you like the taste?