Holy Basil is a type of basil but has its unique taste and a whole culture associated with it. Its ancient history, especially with relation to Hinduism, makes it a holy plant not only because of the various mythological stories but also due to its innumerable health benefits.
Holy Basil or ‘Tulsi’ as Indians commonly call has a long history in Indian Medicine. Holy basil is a type of basil but has its unique taste and a whole culture associated with it.
Its ancient history, especially with relation to Hinduism, makes it a holy plant not only because of the various mythological stories but also due to its innumerable health benefits. Holy Basil or ‘Tulsi’ as Indians commonly call has a long history in Indian Medicine.
It is also known as the ‘Queen of Herbs.’ The plant is amazingly aromatic and usually has thin leaves which are oval. Before dwelling on the many benefits that this amazing little plant offers to us, let us first know the various types of holy basil:
• Dark Holy Basil or Krishna Tulsi
It is called Dark due to the color of its leaves which are generally dark Purple. Its aroma is robust, and it has a crisp taste. Its leaves are smaller than the Light Holy Basil. Also, Krishna Tulsi owes its origin to Africa. This Tulsi is not worshipped as much as the Rama Tulsi. A pungent taste generally accompanies this basil.
Uses of Krishna Tulsi:
- Used in the worshipping of Lord Hanuman.
- It is often used in treating cold, cough, skin diseases, ear problems and problems related to the respiratory tract.
• Light Holy Basil or Rama Tulsi
This type is the most worshipped one. It has green leaves and is seen across China, Asia, India, Nepal and also parts of Brazil. It has a unique characteristic fragrance to it which is present in the whole plant be it leaves, stem seeds or even the roots. Its leaves contain aromatic essential oil as well.
Uses of Light Holy Basil:
- Used to prevent and cure diseases like cold and cough, leukoderma, heart and liver tonic and even paralysis.
- The light basil is known to boost our immune system.
• Kapoor Tulsi
This variety of holy basil is easy to grow and can easily be spotted in the U.S.A. It is highly aromatic, and its pleasant aroma attracts many bees. Its leaves are also light green. These leaves are often added to tea and are known to be immune enhancers too.
Uses of Kapoor Tulsi:
- It is used to cure chronic diarrhea, dysentery, cough, and indigestion.
- It is also believed that it cures snake bites.
• Wild Leaf Holy Basil or Vana Tulsi
This variety has green leaves with white flowers. It is also highly aromatic, and it usually grows taller than the other types of this plant. The name means forests thus it is the wild version of basil. This type of holy basil has the highest amount of eugenol. The basic uses of Vana Tulsi are:
Uses of Wild Leaf Holy Basil:
- To cure Malaria.
- Help in the cure and prevention of Diabetes, Asthma and urinogenital diseases.
• Vishnu’s Holy Basil or Vishnu Priya Tulsi
The Vishnu Priya Tulsi have flower’s which have purple shade to them and its fruits look similar to yellow and red seeds. The leaves of this type of holy basil have a peppery taste and are majorly used for culinary purposes.
Uses of Vishnu’s Holy Basil:
- It has medicinal qualities.
- It has anti-stress properties.
• Biswa Tulsi
Also known as Asian Tulsi, this basil plant is known for its unique aroma and is slightly coarser than the other varieties of Tulsi. This plant is mostly hairless. The leaves of Biswa Tulsi are usually puckered and oval. Its uses include:
Uses of Biswa Tulsi:
- It is an important part of ayurvedic medicines and traditional Chinese medicines.
- It cures and prevents stomach ache, diarrhea, and renal infections.
• Mediterranean Tulsi
Ancient Greeks found this Tulsi. This holy basil has large and smooth leaves. It is mainly used for culinary purpose & has antioxidants and is known to be anticancer, antiviral and antibacterial. It is also called sweet basil.
Uses of Mediterranean Tulsi:
- It is antiviral and antibacterial.
- It has anti – cancer properties due to anti – oxidant content.
Tulsi in itself possesses so many benefits that it is hard to believe that such a small little plant can be doing so much for our survival and health.
Some of its significant benefits are:
• It has many positive effects on our respiratory system.
• Holy basil fights skin diseases due to its antiviral and antibacterial nature.
• Tulsi often relieves us from fever, cold and cough.
• It reduces cholesterol and helps in maintaining the cardiovascular system of our body.
• Holy basil prevents us from dental cavities and keeps our teeth healthy.
• Regular consumption of Tulsi leaves known to be beneficial for the eyes as it prevents macular degeneration.
This plant is so versatile not just in its types but uses and benefits that Doctor Ralph D. Miller once said “When I was first introduced to the sacred Tulsi, my first reaction, as a Western scientist, was disbelief. There seemed to be far more wide-ranging health benefits attributed to this plant that could be possible for a single agent. Yet I realized that there must be compelling reasons why Tulsi has, for thousands of years, remained one of the most cherished of India’s sacred healing plants.”
Well his statement in itself is enough for all of us to understand and appreciate this gift of nature. Finally, one word of caution for those who consume this herb regularly will be the fact that holy basil is not considered safe for consumption by pregnant women and for those who are soon to be operated for any purpose what so ever.