In India, the herb Tulsi also called holy basil (sometimes spelled
"Tulasi") has been widely known for its health promoting and medicinal
value for thousands of years. Commonly called sacred or holy basil,
it is a principal herb of Ayurveda,
the ancient traditional holistic health system of India. Holy basil
is also known as "The Incomparable One", "The Mother Medicine of
Nature", and "The Queen of Herbs".
Tulsi's Botanical Identity :
Tulsi is identified by botanists primarily as Ocimum sanctum (Rama and Krishna Tulsi varieties) or more recently Ocimum tenuiflorum, and Ocimum gratissimum (Vana Tulsi variety). Belonging to the Lamiaceae/Labiatae mint family, these and other closely related species and varieties (e.g., Ocimum canum) are cousins of the familiar sweet basil cooking herb Ocimum basilicum. In parts of India, all of the basils are honoured as Tulsi.
Basils are native to tropical Asia, likely having originated in India. Robust Tulsi varieties readily grow wild in many areas of Asia and Africa. Tulsi is a bushy perennial shrub, usually cultivated annually from seed, although it can also be propagated from tip or root cuttings.
Tulsi's Chemistry :
The chemical composition of Tulsi is highly complex, containing many nutrients and other biologically active compounds, the proportions of which may vary considerably between strains and even among plants within the same field.
The nutritional and pharmacological properties of the whole herb in
its natural form, as it has been traditionally used, result from
interactions of many different active phytochemicals.
Consequently, the overall effects of Tulsi cannot be fully duplicated
with isolated compounds or extracts. Because of its inherent botanical
and biochemical complexity, Tulsi standardization has, so far, eluded
modern science. Perhaps best known of the many active compounds
that have been identified and extracted are eugenol (an essential
oil) and ursolic acid. Although Tulsi is known as a general vitalizer
and increases physical endurance, it contains no caffeine or other
Benefits Of Tulsi:
The research offers impressive evidence that Tulsi protects against and reduces stress, enhances stamina and endurance, increases the body's efficient use of oxygen, boosts the immune system, slows aging, and provides a rich supply of antioxidants and other nutrients. These general vitality-enhancing properties, which support and enhance the body's natural capacity to maintain a state of well-being, likely account for much of the impressively wide range of Tulsi traditional health promoting uses. Amongst its array of more specific effects, the data indicate that Tulsi reduces inflammation, prevents gastric ulcers, protects against radiation, lowers fevers, cholesterol and high blood pressure, enhances periodontal health, displays significant natural antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal activity, improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients, and even repels mosquitoes and other potentially harmful insects. It would appear that Tulsi offers remarkable preventative and curative potential with respect to many degenerative disorders, such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and neurological dementia.