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The Powerful Queen of Herbs - Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Tulsi

AKA: Ocimum sanctum L.Family: Lamiaceae (mint); Holy Basil, Tulasi, Sacred Basil.

 

Propagation/Description: Tulsi is an annual in most of the United States, but it will grow as a perennial in warmer climates and can even do well as an indoor plant in the right conditions. It is a herbaceous shrub that grows up to 2 ft tall and blooms a small purple or white flower. It grows best in full sun and moist but a efficiently draining, sandy soil. Do not confuse your seeds with Thai Basil or Thai Holy Basil. While they are in the same family, they have different medicinal properties.

 

Folklore/History: Tulsi or Holy Basil is native to Southeast Asia and is commonly used in Ayurveda (traditional medicine in India) to make healing teas, oils, and poultices. The Hindu scriptures respect Tulsi as the Mother who protects her children from the evils of the world. A Hindu family is often found to have planted Tulsi in their garden as it is believed that Lord Vishnu resides in the house that houses a Tulsi plant. The Legend of Tulsi, according to the Shrimad Devi Bhagvatam, Lord Vishnu’s consort, Goddess Laxmi was transformed into a Tulsi plant due to a curse. Unable to reverse the curse Lord Vishnu granted Laxmi a boon to be born as a girl on earth. In her new life as a woman she married a demon named Shankachura. Victims of Shankachura prayed to Lord Vishnu for help and so he sent Lord Shiva to kill him. The death of Shankachura relieved the world of his tormenting and Goddess Laxmi of her curse. To mark this event the Tulsi plant was born on earth and has since been revered and worshipped for it’s purity and the peacefulness it brings. Tulsi leaves are offered in many pujas. This is because Tulsi ensures the presence of the supreme trinity-Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva on earth. She is especially important in the worship of Hanuman. While Tulsi offers spiritual value she also offers medicinal benefits as an adaptogen reducing the effects of stress on the body and as a remedy for various ailments.


Medicinal: In 2014, Marc Maurice Cohen, with the School of Health Sciences, RMIT University, Victoria, Australia, surmised “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.” It has been used for ages as house-remedies for curing fever, cough and cold, indigestion, headache, and other common disorders. For centuries, the sacred plant has saved its people from death, disease, and epidemics. Hundreds of scientific studies done over the years have revealed that tulsi has a unique combination of actions that include: Antimicrobial (including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiprotozoal, antimalarial, anthelmintic), mosquito repellent, anti-diarrheal, anti-oxidant, anti-cataract, anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive, radioprotective, hepato-protective, neuro-protective, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic, anti-hypercholesterolemia, anti-hypertensive, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, anti-pyretic, anti-allergic, immunomodulatory, central nervous system depressant, memory enhancement, anti-asthmatic, anti-tussive, diaphoretic, anti-thyroid, anti-fertility, anti-ulcer, anti-emetic, anti-spasmodic, anti-arthritic, adaptogenic, anti-stress, anti-cataract, anti-leukodermal and anti-coagulant activities. This is such a powerful herb that even WebMD has to admit it’s benefits to your health. Basically it is an adaptogen and helps with all sorts of metabolic disorders, lowers blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels, and even assists with the pain and burn of a sunburn!


 Spiritual: It is believed to attract positive energy, bring blessings, and foster a closer connection to God or Spirit. It has the ability to relax the mind and the body helps in improving meditation and spiritual practices, while its leaves are believed to bring peace, prosperity and grace in life. Hindus place Tulsi leaves on the chest promising pleasant dreams and protection against evil.


Summary: Tulsi or better known as Holy Basil is a miraculous herb that most people dismiss as a culinary herb. It can be but the health benefits are much more valuable and beneficial to us than just a yummy flavor. Tulsi teaches us that we CAN NOT underestimate nature and its power to improve and balance our lives in so many ways. Physically, Mentally and Spiritually it is an ultimate healer in our world. Nurturing us and helping us to learn to love our bodies, our minds and seek balance and health in our spirit.

 

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