Tulsi: Benefits, Preparation, and Its Importance in Hinduism

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Tulsi—also known as holy basil—is a type of shrub belonging to the mint family. In India, tulsi is cultivated for medicinal and spiritual purposes. There are two types of tulsi or holy basil. One is called the Rama or Shri tulsi and the other is the Krishna or the Shyama tulsi. Rama or Shri tulsi is characterized for its bright green leaves while Krishna or Shyama tulsi has reddish leaves.

Tulsi and Hinduism

In Hindu, tulsi means “The Incomparable One.” The plant is considered as the incarnation of the wife of Vishnu, Lakshimi. Lakshimi and Vishnu are two of the most important deities in Hinduism.

Tulsi is commonly found in temples because it is worshipped. In worship, tulsi leaves are placed on the altar during prayer and meditation.

Tulsi is revered in Hindusim because the herb is very dear to Lord Vishnu’s heart. According to legends, on the 11th bright day of the Kartika Month, tulsi was ceremonially married to Lord Vishnu. The symbolic marriage was the start of the most favorite marriage periods in Hinduism.

Traditionally, it’s the women of the household who has to take care and cultivate the plant. Tulsi plants are watered, lighted with an earthen lamp, and worshipped after taking a bath in the morning. Many households have tulsi plants in their garden; the herb is believed to bring lifelong happiness and longevity to all members of the household.

Tulsi’s Health Benefits and Preparations

As a medicinal herb, healers believe tulsi can heal the mind, body, and the soul. The herb is prepared in different ways — it can be served in tea or juice form; it can also be dried or powdered. The herb is a powerful treatment used widely in Ayurvedic medicine. Tulsi contains potent phytochemicals—as well as adaptogenic and antimicrobial properties—that treat a wide range of health problems including respiratory disorders and skin problems. Other health benefits of tulsi include:

Treats Respiratory Disorders

Tulsi is traditionally prepared with honey and ginger to treat common colds, flu, as well as serious respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and asthma. Tulsi is a powerful expectorant, making it easy for people afflicted with bronchitis and asthma to expel phlegm and aid in breathing. Chewing fresh leaves of tulsi also helps heal flu and cough.

Soothes Fever and Sore Throat

Coming down with something? Tulsi is an effective treatment for sore throat and fever! Just boil several tulsi leaves with half a liter of water and take the infusion as tea or as mouthwash. Gargle with the infusion three times a day to soothe sore throat.

As treatment for fever, the antimicrobial properties in tulsi leaves help keep fever down. Do note that fever is not necessarily a disease, but it’s a symptom of an underlying disease. Bacteria, fungus, allergens, or viruses often cause fever. Tulsi is also an effective treatment for malaria and dengue fever. To take tulsi leaves as treatment for fever, boil several leaves in half a liter of water. Take it as tea and mix milk and honey to taste.

Cleanses the Kidneys

Tulsi is traditionally used to cleanse the kidneys and expel kidney stones. Regular intake of tulsi juice also helps lower uric acid levels in the body. The herb is also a diuretic; it stimulates frequent urination, promoting proper kidney cleaning.

Treats Infections and Skin Problems

Taking tulsi juice could also help heal various skin disorders including bacterial, fungal infection, snake and scorpion bites, and vitiligo.

There are three ways to prepare tulsi leaves to treat skin diseases — as bath soak, as juice, or as topical ointment. Just add a decoction of tulsi leaves to your bath water and soak for several minutes to treat fungal and bacterial infection.

Ground tulsi leaves could be applied like an ointment on the affected area. You can also apply leaves on the infected area. Taken internally as juice, tulsi could treat scorpion and snake bites. However, we recommend rushing to the hospital in case of scorpion or snakebite.

Prevent Cardiovascular Disorders

Apart from its antibacterial and adaptogenic properties, tulsi contains powerful antioxidants that protect and repair free radical damage on the cells. Tulsi could protect the heart from free radical damage, as well as lower high blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels in the body. Tulsi also helps repair nerve damage and may enhance alertness and improve brain function.

Reverse Signs of Aging

Want to reverse the signs of aging? Taking tulsi juice regularly could restore the elasticity of the skin, prevent wrinkles, and even delay the signs of aging. How? Tulsi contains phytochemicals that repair damage to the skin; the result is youthful, glowing skin!

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