The tulsi, also called sacred basil, is regarded in India as “the Queen of plants” because of its purifying properties and soothing of the body and mind. It has been used for thousands of years to increase adaptability to stress and endurance, detoxify the body and restore balance and harmony.
For a long time I searched for the rare pearl. The plant would also be good for my body and for my mind. That day came when I heard of sacred basil.
Initially, basil (Ocimum basilicum) meant nothing else to me than for Mediterranean cuisine. Apart from cooking with it, I did not see what medicinal virtue it could conceal. But its close cousin, sacred basil or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum) made me change my mind.
“Basil” in ancient Greek means “royal”. This name is probably related to the basil we are discussing today, sacred basil, also from India, and there it is called the queen of herbs. And not in vain, since its virtues far outweigh those of the basil used in cuisine.
The tulsi is sacred to the point that the Indian tradition does not lack for names that evoke its medicinal properties, “the incomparable” or “mother’s medicine of nature” to the point of being central in some forms of Hindu spirituality. Respect surrounding it is such that it is consumed only as a remedy, except for meals. And the worst sacrilege that one can commit against it is eating it at the same time as the meat.
If the sacred basil arouses such attention it is because its virtues are numerous and attested over the centuries. Much literature testifies: it helps cleanse, clarify, lightens our body and mind.
This is what makes this plant entirely appropriate against the evils of our modern lifestyle, as the tulsi gives our mind strength to withstand stress of all kinds. It is equally effective on the body: Many studies attest to its detoxifying, anti-infective and anti-inflammatory power. It thus relieves our body in two ways: psychological pressure and physical pressure posed by bacterial and toxic threats to our environment.
In a word, Sacred Basil resets all your counters to zero. It is therefore the ideal plant for a new start!
The tulsi or the divine made plant
The tulsi is so sacred in India that two myths are devoted to it. One of them deifies it in the form of the goddess Vrinda, whose areas of predilection are fertility and abundance. She is also the symbol of ideal femininity and motherhood.
Also the sacred basil is regarded in India as the holiest of all plants, the threshold between heaven and earth. This holiness is reflected on each of its parts: leaves, stem, flower, root, seed and oil. It is therefore no more nor no less the divine made plant. The ground around it is holy. Its cult has thus taken to a full branch of Hinduism.
Besides, its wood and seeds are used to make rosaries that would help concentration and meditation. It would also have the power to fight air pollution, and it is to this end that it was planted around the Taj Mahal: to prevent the white marble from blackening.
The tulsi against metabolic syndrome and stress
The tulsi is definitely the best example of the holistic approach of Ayurveda. The Indians lend themselves to this spicy and bitter plant the power to give “luster” to the body, intelligence, beauty, endurance, gentleness of voice and a specific provision to the emotional temperance.
So, daily consumption of this plant would prevent disease, improve physical fitness, well-being and longevity. But above all, and this is what interests us here, it helps to cope with the pressures of everyday life, the psychological and physical.
Psychologically the tulsi aids, like other adaptogens, to clarify the mind and to recoil from the problems that dot our daily lives. Tested on animals, it improved their memory and cognitive function, it revealed it had the same properties as antidepressants and anxiolytics. On humans, it has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, problems with sex and sleep, confusion and exhaustion – with the scientific tests, randomized, double-blind, controlled placebo. It is not for nothing that the virtues of sacred basil have been compared to those of yoga!
These psychological qualities are coupled with physical virtues, and this is not surprising given how the two are related. Indeed, in response to chronic stress, our body produces increased hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and corticosterone. But there is a price to pay in the long term including background fatigue, self-sustained in hypersensitive stress but also a procession of metabolic and cardiovascular disorders.
The sacred basil proves useful here because it attenuates the metabolic syndrome ,a problem that affects a third of the population in industrialized countries. Because it reduces the blood glucose level, improves the lipid profile of people consuming it and thins their blood pressure, tulsi is a good generalist plant for those profiled with cardiovascular risks.
The tulsi against the chemical compounds and cancer
Another type of physical stress attacks our body with toxins of all kinds. The tulsi here increases our defensive capabilities. The large number of phenolic compounds it contains, has a major effect here: protection of our cells against the ravages of free radicals and toxins, and therefore a preventive role against cancer.
The plant does indeed increase production of a major body antioxidant and cleaner, glutathione. It thus prevents damage to the liver, kidneys and brain, caused by pesticides, chemicals, pharmaceuticals (including paracetamol) and industrial (including paraben and ethanol). The tulsi also protects the body from heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and mercury), and helps the body to evacuate.
In doing so Tulsi reduces DNA damage caused by these toxic particles and thus helps cancer prevention. This preventive property is compounded by the fact that it promotes cell apoptosis drift, ie it activates the programmed death of pre-cancerous and cancerous cells.
The tulsi or shield against bacteria and viruses
Like many other millennial used plants elevated to the rank of panaceas, Ayurvedic tradition attributes a number of difficult to verify properties to tulsi. Indeed the list of conditions treated by the sacred basil is somewhat extensive; cough, asthma, diarrhea, fever, dysentery, eye diseases, ear pain, indigestion, hiccups, gastric, cardiac and reproductive disorders, back pain, skin diseases , insect bites, snake bites, scorpion stings …
Scientific research however agrees to assign its rich compounds as active antimicrobial properties, antiviral, antifungal and antiprotozoal. In this fight against bacteria and viruses, its modulatory role on our immune system probably plays an active part. This is probably also the latter property that one which has beneficial effects in the fight against allergies.
Finally, sacred basil works well against infections in animals, including cows, poultry, goats, fish and… silkworms! As it attacks pathogenic organisms that are born in water or food, sacred basil is sometimes used for food preservation, water purification or hand hygiene.
To prepare an infusion of sacred basil, pour half a liter of boiling water on 5 to 7 grams of fresh leaves, cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then filter. Drink a cup, three times a day, to enjoy its effects.
To get these fresh leaves easily, do not hesitate to grow sacred basil in the garden yourself!