Tulsi in History: Prof Swaminath Godbole, who teaches Religion at Concordia University, Montreal has made this historical citation: In a letter written to 'The Times,' London, dated May 2, 1903 Dr George Birdwood, Professor of Anatomy, Grant Medical College, Mumbai said, "When the Victoria Gardens were established in Bombay, the men employed on those works were pestered by mosquitoes. At the recommendation of the Hindu managers, the whole boundary of the gardens was planted with holy basil, on which the plague of mosquitoes was at once abated, and fever altogether disappeared from among the resident gardeners."
Medicinal properties of Tulsi
The tulsi or holy basil is an important symbol in the Hindu religious tradition and is worshipped in the morning and evening by Hindus. A herbal remedy for common ailments. Here are top fifteen medicinal uses of tulsi.
1. Healing Power: The tulsi plant has many medicinal properties. The leaves are nerve tonic and also sharpen memory. They promote the removal of catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tube. The leaves strengthen the stomach and induce copious perspiration.
2. Fever & Common Cold: The leaves of tulsi are specific for many fevers. During the rainy season, malaria and dengue fever are widely prevalent, tender leaves, boiled with tea act as preventive against theses diseases. In case of acute fevers, a decoction of the leaves boiled with powdered cardamom in half a litre of water and mixed with sugar and milk brings down the temperature. Juice of tulsi leaves can be used to bring down fever. Extract of tulsi leaves in fresh water should be given every 2 to 3 hours with sips of cold water in between. In children, this is very effective in bringing down the temperature.
3. Cough: Tulsi is an important constituent of many Ayurvedic cough syrups and expectorants. It helps to mobilize mucus in bronchitis and asthma. Chewing tulsi leaves relieves cold and flu.
4. Sore Throat: Water boiled with tulsi leaves can be taken as drink in case of sore throat. This water can also be used for gargles.
5. Respiratory Disorder: The herb is useful in the treatment of respiratory system disorder. A decoction of the leaves with honey and ginger is an effective remedy for bronchitis, asthma, influenza, cough and cold. Decoction of the tulsi leaves, cloves and common salt also gives immediate relief in case of influenza.
6. Kidney Stone: Tulsi has strengthening effect on the kidney. In renal stone, juice of tulsi leaves and honey when taken regularly for 6 months helps to expel stones via the urinary tract.
7. Heart Disorder: Tulsi has a beneficial effect in cardiac disease. It reduces the level of blood cholesterol.
8. Children's Ailments: Common pediatric problems like cough, cold, fever, diarrhea and vomiting respond favorably to the juice of tulsi leaves. If pustules of chicken pox delay their appearance, tulsi leaves when taken with saffron will hasten them.
9. Stress: Tulsi leaves are regarded as an "anti-stress" agent. Recent studies have shown that the leaves afford significant protection against stress. Even healthy persons can chew 12 leaves of tulsi, twice a day to prevent stress. It purifies blood and helps prevent several common elements.
10. Mouth Infections: The leaves are quit effective for the ulcer and infections in the mouth. A few leaves chewed will cure these conditions.
11. Insect Bites: The herb is a prophylactic, preventive and curative for insect bites. A teaspoonful of the juice of the leaves is taken and is repeated after a few hours. Fresh juice must also be applied to the affected parts. Paste of fresh roots is also effective in case of bites of insects and leeches.
12. Skin Disorders: Tulsi juice is beneficial in the treatment of ringworm and other skin diseases. It has also been tried successfully by some naturopaths in the treatment of leucoderma.
13. Teeth Disorder: The herb is useful in teeth disorders. Dried leaf powder can be used for brushing teeth. It can also be mixed with mustard oil to make a paste and used as toothpaste. This is very good for maintaining dental health, counteracting bad breath and for massaging the gums. It is also useful in pyorrhea and other teeth disorders.
14. Headaches: Tulsi makes a good medicine for headache. A decoction of the leaves can be given for this. Powdered leaves mixed with sandalwood paste can also be applied on the forehead for getting relief from heat headache and for providing coolness in general.
15. Eye Disorders: Tulsi juice is an effective remedy for sore eyes and night-blindness, generally caused by deficiency of vitamin A. Two drops of black tulsi juice are put into the eyes daily at bedtime.
Baba Farid University of Health Sciences,