Tulsi (Holy Basil) Leaves
What is Tulsi?
Known as tulsi in Ayurvedic medicine, holy basil has been used in India since before 1000 BC for numerous ailments, including fever, inflammation, malaria, dysentery, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, arthritis, insect bites, skin conditions and painful eye diseases.
What does Tulsi contain?
The various basils have such different scents because the herb has a number of different essential oils which come together in different proportions for various breeds. The strong clove scent of sweet basil comes from eugenol, the same chemical as actual cloves. The citrus scent of lemon basil and lime basil is because they have a higher portion of citral which causes this effect in several plants, including lemon mint, and limonene, which gives actual lemon peel its scent.
What are the benefits of Tulsi?
- Holy basil is primarily used to combat stress, decrease blood sugar and improve digestion.
- The herb appears to work as an adaptogen--in other words, it helps the body adapt to stress in a healthy way, supports immune function and bolsters resistance against disease.
- The whole seed acts as a bulk-forming laxative, soothing irritated mucous membranes and relieving both constipation and diarrhea.
- The oil is used to enhance digestion and reduce intestinal gas.
- Preliminary research suggests that holy basil has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and in the case of holy basil oil, antibacterial capabilities.
- In Indian studies mostly done on animals, this Ayurvedic botanical was shown to help reduce the effects of chronic stress, promote wound healing, lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes, slow age-related memory impairment and lower cholesterol. More research is needed, however, before these applications can become scientifically established for human treatment.
- In an older human study from the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, holy basil leaf was found to be more effective than placebo at lowering blood sugar.
- Holy basil contains polyphenols (antioxidants also found in green tea and other herbs) that theoretically could help reduce cardiovascular disease risk.