Tulasi (also known as holy basil or basil) is cultivated in most of the Hindu’s houses and worshipped daily. Along with its religious connotation in Nepal and India among Hindus, this plant has also got medicinal and nutritious properties.
Tulasi (sometimes spelt as ‘Tulsi’) is a herb from the Lamiaceae family that is native to India and Southeast Asia. Tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) is also considered ‘The queen of herbs’ as it is regarded as a pre-eminent herb in Ayurvedic medicine. In traditional medicine, Tulasi and each of its parts including stems, roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds have been recommended for curing multiple diseases like bronchitis, malaria, diarrhoea, dysentery, skin disease, arthritis, eye diseases, insect bites and so on.
Tulasi plants are enriched in vitamins A, C and K and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, protein, fibre, iron, and potassium. This sacred herb has a plethora of health benefits, many backed by several studies. Let’s discuss some key advantages that you can get from this holy plant.
1. Boosts immune system
It is viewed that tulasi helps one strengthen the immunity power and immune response of the body. In a study, the immunomodulatory impact of tulasi leaves’ powder supplement in broiler chickens was experimented. For six weeks, 72-day old broilers were fed tulasi (basil) diet that included four levels of a tulasi leaf powder at the rate of 0.00%, 0.25%, 0.25%, and 1%. And, finally, this experiment showed that increasing the level of tulasi supplements from 0.25% to 1% improved humoral immune response and cell-mediated immune response. It also indicated that tulasi supplements at 1% could be used as natural alternatives in stimulating the immune response.
2. Is good for liver
Tulasi is believed to have a positive impact on the liver’s health. A study conducted in 2015 investigated the antioxidants properties of the holy basil in rats with liver injury. This study concluded that tulasi mixed with other herbal powders showed notable antioxidant activity and acted very well to guard the liver against any injury.
3. Cures digestive disorders
Consuming tulasi leaves and sipping tulasi tea helps stimulate the appetite and improves digestion by minimising the gas and bloating and increasing the gastric juices flow.
Also, it is also found that the phytochemicals compounds that lie in tulasi fight against Staphylococcus aureus infection that is considered as the prime cause of diarrhoea.
A review published in 2013 summarised that the major biochemically active constituents like eugenol, carvacrol, ursolic acid, β-caryophyllene, and rosmarinic acid present in the holy basil had anti-ulcer and anti-secretory properties could cure gastric ulceration in gastric epithelial tissue.
4. Heals respiratory problems
The use of tulasi leaves for treating common cold and fever is practised traditionally. The mixture of honey, ginger, and tulasi is regarded as an effective remedy for curing respiratory infections like bronchitis, bronchial asthma, sore throat, influenza, cough, and cold. In many Ayurvedic cough syrups and expectorants, tulsi is a significant ingredient.
Moreover, it is even very useful for maintaining a healthy respiratory passage; it assists to mobilise mucus in bronchitis and asthma.
5. Treats eye disorders
Juice of tulasi leaves mixed with triphala (Emblica officinalis, Terminalia bellirica, and Terminalia chebula) is widely used as an eye tonic. This mixture has also been recommended to treat diseases or infections related to eyes like glaucoma, cataract (aqueous extract of fresh leaves of tulasi helps to do so), and chronic conjunctivitis.
6. Works as a stress buster
Tulsi is recognised as a potent adaptogenic herb in herbal medicine. Adaptogens are substances that are considered to increase the resistance to stress. A study confirms that adaptogens showcase neuroprotective, anti-fatigue, antidepressive, anxiolytic, nootropic, and CNS (central nervous system) stimulating activity that helps increase the mental performance against stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
Also, tulasi contains compounds like Ocimumosides A and B that are proven to reduce/ease stress and balance the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
7. Is useful against cardiovascular diseases
Various beneficial compounds present in tulasi aid in lowering cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels and leading to prevent multiple cardiovascular diseases.
In a study published in 1997, the effect of tulasi leaf powder supplement on fasting blood sugar levels, serum lipids, and tissue lipids in diabetic rats was tested. This experiment showed a reduction in fasting blood sugar, uronic acid, total amino acids, triglyceride, also a significant fall in overall cholesterol, and phospholipids.
8. Maintains oral health
It is confirmed by several studies that tulasi is also beneficial for maintaining oral health. Tulasi helps one fight against Streptococcus mutans that is a major cause of tooth decay. It is confirmed in clinical experiments that showed that the effectiveness of rinsing the mouth with tulasi extracts is the same as the efficacy of 0.2% chlorhexidine and lListerine in lowering the levels of Streptococcus mutans.
Also, tulasi can be used as a herbal mouthwash to treat bad breath, gum diseases, and mouth ulcers.
9. Combats cancer
In a 2013 review, it is confirmed that some of tulasi’s phytochemicals eugenol, rosmarinic acid, apigenin, myretenal, luteolin, β-sitosterol, and carnosic acid help people prevent and treat various types of cancers including skin, oral, lung and liver cancers. As per the review, these phytochemicals do so by increasing the antioxidant activity, altering the gene expressions, inducing apoptosis, and inhibiting angiogenesis and metastasis.
Also, this review briefs the chemopreventive and radioprotective properties of tulasi.