Tulsi Plant
Credit: Livestrong.org

As mankind continues to advance, we seem to look more and more to the past. This is never more true than in the advances of health. Western society has no doubt made great strides in medicine. However, the trend of looking to the east for organic or homeopathic medicines has become more and more prevalent.   One such way is through the healing property of plants used by easterners many centuries ago.   One particularly amazing plant that is gaining popularity is the Tulsi or “Holy Basil” plant used by the indigenous peoples of India.

The Mythilcal Past of Tulsi

The Tulsi plant (Ocimum tenuiflorum) has been used in India for thousands of years. The Tulsi plant combines a rich past with beneficial properties. The Tulsi story starts centuries ago as Hindu legend states that Tulsi was a women married to a malignant king named Jalandhar. Tulsi was faithfully devoted to the supreme Hindu God Vishnu, as a result her husdand Jalandar became invincible.  This upset the God Shiva who wanted to destroy Jalandhar. Shiva asked Vishnu to help defeat Jalandhar.  In response, Vishnu pretended to be Tulsi’s husband and took her chastity. With the protection of his wife's piety gone, Jalandhar was killed by Shiva. Heartbroken, Tulsi set herself on fire. In response the gods transferred her soul to a plant. Through this transformation it is believed that the Tulsi plant gains all it’s beneficial properties.

Healing Properties

 The Ayuvedic masters understood the power of the plant and would use the plant for an abundance of medicinal cures.  We now understand that the healing properties are derived through the leaves and extracts of the Ursolic acid found in the juices of the plant.  Ursolic acid has properties that inhibit the elastase enzyme in the skin, and prevents structural enzymes from being attacked.  Ursolic acid also inhibits inflammatory enzymes.  This helps to heal and prevent many skin conditions including reducing wrinkles.

In addition to having healing skin properties, the Tulsi plant extracts contain proponents that protect nerve, liver, and the immune system.  The Tulsi plant can also be used to prevent and treat such illnesses as inflammation, fevers, common colds, sore throats, and respiratory conditions such as bronchitis.  Kidney stones, insect bites, poisonous bites, and eye disorders are also treatable with the Tulsi plant. In recent years the Tulsi plant has been found to alter the neurochemistry of the brain similar to western reuptake inhibitors medicine that treats depression.

Cancer Fighting

Perhaps the most intriguing benefit is that a number of studies on animals have shown the benefits of the Tulsi plant improving the animal's cells after cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.  These early studies have also shown the possibility of the oil of the Tulsi plant acting as an antioxidant to produce a slowing effect on the growth of cancer cells in such animals.

Tulsi Tea
Credit: Anaita B.

How to take it

Tulsi comes in many forms. The most popular being tea, but can also be found in tablet form. A bitt of warning, when you begin taking natural supplements such as Tulsi, sometimes there can be a reaction while toxins are being released from the body during detoxification.  As with any medication speak with a medical professional.