Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)
Holy basil, also known as Tulsi or Tulasi, has been eaten in India and utilized in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. The herb has a strong taste and an even stronger smell associated with it. The herb is supposed to retard the aging process and it does have some good herbal qualities that have been tried and tested as an Ayurvedic herbal medicine. The herb, with its colorful bright purple flowers can be grown in more Northern parts of the globe but it doesn't tolerate temperatures much lower than 18ºC (65ºF), so you will need a greenhouse.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Holy basil is used to relieve inflammation, diabetes, digestive problems, heart disease, headaches and infections. Tests have shown it may help protect against mercury toxicity. Drinking tulsi tea every day may help lower cortisol and blood sugar levels. It also helps the body deal with stress and strengthens the immune system. Tulsi is used in Ayurvedic medicine for colds, coughs, sore throat, poisoning and malaria in addition to the other ailments already mentioned.
This herb is antioxidant. Some studies suggest that it may be helpful for radiation poisoning and cataracts. This herb can help sharpen the memory. The tea is given for fevers from many causes, from flu all the way to dengue. It helps to strengthen the kidneys, and if the juice from tulsi is taken for six months on a regular schedule, kidney stones will be released. Fresh leaves can be chewed to relieve mouth ulcers and sores.
Externally Holy basil has antimicrobial compounds that are useful in curing ringworm. Powdered holy basil can be used to clean the teeth and freshen the breath.
Other Uses Also used for purification.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Holy basil is used in many Ayurvedic formulas. Be sure to seek the advice of an Ayurvedic herbalist for the best results. For severe fever, the herb is combined with cardamom and made into a decoction to which sugar and milk are added. If it is mixed with saffron, the chicken pox will hasten its disease process.
Leaves The leaf is taken as tea, powder, fresh leaf or combined with ghee, which is also known as clarified butter.
There are no known side effects or drug interactions with holy basil. Pregnant and lactating women commonly consume this tea, and it is also used on children over the age of 2.
Preparation and Dosage
While even one cup of holy basil tea is beneficial, it can be safely consumed throughout the day.