Holy Basil - the Sacred herb
Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuifolium ), or known in Sanskrit as Tulasi, is the most sacred herb in India and considered to be the "The Queen of Herbs". It was used in India for over five thousand years and is considered to be a healing balm for body, mind and spirit. Holy basil is a short lived perennial herb (or a small shrub) that is being grown as an annual plant. It has a hairy stem, green or purple foliage, and ovate, up to 5 cm long leaves, which are slightly toothed. The strong scent of the herb defines its aromatic value for various herbal preparations.
Native to India, holy basil in its habitat preferences requires average water supply, although regular, and doesn’t tolerate overwatering. The plant grows well in mildly acidic and neutral soils. The propagation is usually done by seed and should take place before the last frost.
Holy basil is the plant with multiple useful parts - the juice of leaves, and/or a concoction is used as a kind of tea and for topical applications. The seeds are used for the preparations aimed at treating of urinary problems; the oil is a component of the ear drops, and tulasi root possesses aphrodisiac properties.
The herb is available for customers in a vide variety of forms. In form of tea holy basil is usually prescribed for common colds, indigestion and as an appetite enhancer, solid extracts are good for respiratory conditions, tulasi oil drops are beneficial for ear infections, juice – for skin conditions, and seeds – for preparation of general tonic. Infusion, powdered leaves, and ghee are common holy basil market forms.
A variety of biologically active chemicals have been isolated from the holy basil leaves – they include ursolic acid, apigenin and luteolin. According to pharmacological studies, the active compounds of the plant produce anabolic, hypoglycemic, smooth muscle relaxant, cardiac depressant, anti-fertility, adaptogenic, antibacterial and immunomodulator properties.
Hindus herbalists believe that holy basil was given them by Lord to treat the variety of health conditions and believe in its magnificent healing properties; the herb has a long history of use in ayurvedic medicine. Plant’s primary uses are aimed at treating respiratory diseases, combating stress, decreasing blood sugar and improving digestion. The respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis, asthma, influenza, cough and cold are handled with the decoction of the tulasi leaves due to the high concentration of anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory components in them. Adaptogen properties of basil leaves are beneficial in protection of human body from stress. Chewing basil leaves twice a day purifies blood and prevents various types of stress. Being able to reduce blood glucose levels due to its antioxidant properties, tulasi is effective for patients with diabetes.
Juice of basil leaves has a strengthening effect on the kidney and is used in treating of related diseases. Blood cholesterol decreasing properties make the plant effective in handling heart disease and the related to it conditions (such as weakness resulting from them).
Applied topically, holy basil helps in fighting ulcer and infections in the mouth (chewing the leaves relieves the symptoms), skin disorders, such as ringworm, inflammation and others (when juice ointment is applied) and eye conditions, such as sore eyes and night-blindness caused be deficiency of vitamin A (drops based on leaves juice).
The plant is good for children too – it is used in paediatric problems like cough cold, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting.
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