Tulsi (Holy Basil): An Amazing Plant

Amazingly therapeutic, Holy Basil is commonly known as Tulsi (in Hindi). It is the most common plant seen in almost every Indian houses. Reasons are both religious and medicinal. Our forefathers were well aware of this wonderful plant and that is the reason why Ayurveda calls it “The Queen of Herbs” for its amazing medicinal herb with loads of health benefits. It is popular in India due to its therapeutic values since centuries. It is a well known natural and home remedy for numerous  diseases such as anxiety, cough and common cold, flu, acne, etc.

A Holy Basil

Let’s discuss a little bit of Botany. 

Botanical name of Tulsi is Ocimum sanctum L. It is a small aromatic shrub 30-60 cm tall that belongs to Lamiaceae family. Depending upon the species, the leaves can be dark green or blackish green in color. The leaves of this plant have strong smell and taste. Flowers are purple in color and form an inflorescence. Leaves, stem, flower, seeds, roots and the whole plant is sued for making medicines. 

Flowers of Holy Basil

Today, we want proof for everything. Whether or not Tulsi effective for treating diseases? We want proof. And now we have proof. Various scientific studies have proven the health benefits of Tulsi. It has been found through clinical trials and research studies that tulsi is effective in treating diseases that are caused by lifestyle disorders such as diabetes, stress, and metabolic syndrome [1].

Let’s discuss some of the therapeutic properties of Tulsi.

Tulsi for Wound Healing

Due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of Holy Basil, it acts as a strong wound healing herb. It was found in a study that the aqueous extract of Tulsi leaves have wound healing capacity and it can be used for wound management. It further suggested that Ocimum sanctum has amazing antioxidant properties that might be responsible for the quick wound healing and this plant can be sued for managing abnormal healing [2] . In another investigation it was found that ethanolic extract of Tulsi leaves was effective for normal wound healing and dexamethasone-depressed healing in albino rats [3]

Tulsi as an Adaptogen

What is an adaptogen? Adaptogen is any agent that reduces stress level and anxiety. Tulsi is undoubtedly a stress relieving plant. It is called an adaptogen because it helps the human body to adapt to certain stress level by promoting homeostasis. It is a natural stress reducing agent. A cup of Tulsi tea can help the body to reduce body stress and fatigue. It also lowers the anxiety.  According to Ayurveda, Tulsi is a tonic for the body that works on the overall improvement of the  body by working on the body, mind and spirit [4]. It is also considered as the best medicine in this modern world to solve the health related and lifestyle related diseases.

Tulsi to Cure Fever

Holy basil is an excellent antibiotic, germicidal, fungicidal, and disinfectant agent and very effectively protects our body from all sorts of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.The essential oils present in Tulsi has amazing therapeutic properties. Due to its wonderful healing properties, leaves decoction  is used to get relief from high fever.

Tulsi As an Antidiabetic

Some researchers suggest that Tulsi can be sued to increase insulin level in the body thus help in treating Type II diabetes. The study of ethanolic extract of Tulsi on streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats showed that the extract decreased the blood glucose level, glycosylated hemoglobin and even  increased  the level of glycogen, protein and hemoglobin [5]. Yet another study suggested that leaf extracts of Tulsi can stimulate the secretion of insulin [6]. The hypoglycemic effect of Tulsi has been suggested by a study where Tulsi leaf powder was fed to normal and diabetic rats for a month [7].

Tulsi Fights Acne

The antibiotic, antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties of Tulsi plant makes it an amazing home remedy to treat acne. The antioxidant activity helps in scavenging free radicals and treating the acne scars. The anti-inflammatory property helps in reducing the swelling and redness in the affected skin. In a study, Singh et al [8] suggested that the antibacterial activity of fixed oil of Tulsi is due to the presence of high levels of linoleic acid. This oil is effective against Stapphylococcus aureus.

In general, Tulsi has anti-cancer, anti-microbial, anti-insecticidal, anti-malarial, anti-parasitic, anti-fertility, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiseptic, anti-ulcer, hepatoprotective, gastrointestinal protective, adaptogenic, cardioprotective, etc activities. You name it and you have it. Such a wonderful little herb it is. 

I have covered only five therapeutic properties of Tulsi in this article. I will try to include other properties of Tulsi in another article. Till then, go and plant a Tulsi plant in your house and see the miracle plant growing just in front of you daily.

Do not forget to share your knowledge on this plant because together we learn and grow. For further reading, please use the references given below.

References

[1] Jamshidi N, Cohen MM. The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2017;2017:9217567. doi:10.1155/2017/9217567.
[2] Shetty S, Udupa S, Udupa L. Evaluation of Antioxidant and Wound Healing Effects of Alcoholic and Aqueous Extract of Ocimum sanctum Linn in Rats. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2008;5(1):95-101. doi:10.1093/ecam/nem004.
[3] Udupa SL, Shetty S, Udupa AL, Somayaji SN. Effect of Ocimum sanctum Linn. on normal and dexamethasone suppresed wound healing. Indian J Exp Biol. 2006 Jan;44(1):49-54.
[4] Cohen MM. Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2014;5(4):251-259. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.146554.
[5] Narendhirakannan RT, Subramanian S, Kandaswamy M, Biochemical evaluation of antidiabetogenic properties of some commonly used Indian plants on streptozotocin-induced diabetes in experimental rats. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2006 Dec; 33(12):1150-7.
[6] Hannan JM, Marenah L, Ali L, Rokeya B, Flatt PR, Abdel-Wahab YH. Ocimum sanctum leaf extracts stimulate insulin secretion from perfused pancreas, isolated islets and clonal pancreatic beta-cells. J. Endocrinol. 2006 Apr;189(1):127-36.
[7] Rai V, Iyer U, Mani UV. Effect of Tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) leaf powder supplementation on blood sugar levels, serum lipids and tissue lipids in diabetic rats. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1997; 50(1):9-16.
[8] Singh S, Malhotra M, Majumdar DK. Antibacterial activity of Ocimum sanctum L. fixed oil. Indian J Exp Biol. 2005 Sep; 43(9):835-7.

About Dr Namrata

A full time blogger, a freelancer, a scholar, a reader, a thinker and a responsible human being.

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