All Hail, The Queen of Herbs: Holy Basil

Imagine a plant being considered sacred and worshipped! Being revered as the manifestation of God and served with pure devotion!! That’s Holy Basil for India. Well, how holy can a plant be? Let’s check out.

Since ancient times, Indian households religiously follow the tradition of planting ‘Tulsi’ plant in the house and offering water daily. It can be regarded as a spiritual act. However, this daily routine is a way of respecting a great therapeutic power. Hailed as a tonic for the body, mind and spirit, the Holy Basil holds divine status in Indian culture. As we learn more and more about this ‘queen of herbs’, we can understand that it is indeed worthy of all the reverence.

It’s invigorating scent and distinct taste sets Holy Basil apart from any other plant. Holy Basil is usually grown in the tropical and semitropical regions of the world. They have been cultivated in India for over 5,000 years for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is extensively used in Indian medicine. From the leaves and flowers to seed and stem, all the parts of Holy Basil are beneficial for human health.

Holy Basil energises the entire body system. It helps to regulate blood pressure, bowel movement, urination, eliminates nausea, cures skin infections and stomach cramps. The extracts obtained from Holy Basil are used to manage common ailments like cold, fevers, infections, respiratory problems, headaches, stomach disorders to serious conditions like heart diseases, kidney stones, and many more. The plant also acts as protection against mosquitoes, flies, and insects. It helps fight against malarial fever.

Holy Basil is:

  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral
  • Antifungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic (a painkiller)

    Holy Basil contains eugenol, camphor, flavonoids, nerol, and various terpenes. The nutritional value is also high, as it contains

    • Vitamin A and C
    • Calcium
    • Zinc
    • Iron
    • Chlorophyll

      Holy Basil can be eaten raw or cooked, included as component in medicines or applied topically anywhere in the body in powdered or paste form. Even now in India, people soak holy basil leaves overnight and drink it or chew on a leaf to improve overall health.

      The leaves of Holy Basil are known for their healing property. Ayurveda recommends drinking holy basil as tea using the leaves. We can also make holy basil tea using flowers or dried leaf powder. The herb can also be used to make freshly brewed tea by placing 2–3 teaspoons of holy basil in a cup of boiling water and letting it steep for 5–6 minutes. Some people eat the leaves raw. Holy Basil can be consumed in the summer with cold water and in winter with warm water.

      Following are some of the innumerable benefits of a seemingly inconsequential herb.

      • Helps your body to detoxify. Holy basil leaves are believed to have the power to flush out toxins from the body.
      • Boosts the speed and strength of wound healing. Extracts made from leaves are even used after surgery to heal and protect wounds. It may work against infections and wounds such as mouth ulcers,  keloids and raised scars.
      • Highly beneficial in treating skin irritations and acne. Adding Holy Basil to daily skin care regimen can do wonders for your skin. It boosts skin cell metabolism and provides firmness and elasticity to the skin. For a glowing skin, Holy Basil can be topically applied on the face mixed with milk. Applying its paste has proven to be effective in reducing dandruff.
      • Helps track stress and anxiety. Holy basil has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties comparable to antidepressant drugs. An adaptogen is natural substance that helps your body adapt to stress and promotes mental balance.
      • Assists in reducing inflammation. Considered highly useful to reduce joint pain. Also helps to improve blood circulation.
      • Helps reduce blood sugar. All parts of the holy basil plant can help prevent symptoms of diabetes such as weight gain, excess insulin in the blood, high cholesterol, insulin resistance and hypertension.
      • Aids in prevention and management of heart diseases by helping with weight loss and lowering cholesterol levels. The oil in holy basil lowers stress-induced cholesterol levels. 
      • Helps prevent cancer by reducing the growth of cancerous cells. Early research suggests that holy basil seed oil can help slow progression of cancer.
      • Can counteract the effects of stress-induced ulcers. It naturally increases your stomach’s defence by decreasing stomach acid, increasing mucus secretion, increasing mucus cells and extending life of mucus cells.
      • Can help to expel kidney stones through urine and strengthen the kidney.
      • Assists in sharpening memory.

      Different parts of the plant are recommended for treating different conditions:

      Holy Basil can be effortlessly incorporated into your daily routine using some DIY hacks.  Avoid using holy basil if you're allergic to members of the mint plant family. Those who have low blood sugar must also refrain from the intake of Holy Basil.

      There is no greater healer than Mother Nature. And Holy Basil is one of the many manifestations of the Nature’s glory. Tulsi means ‘The Incomparable One’, well, figuratively and literally.