Sunday, June 2, 2013

Holy basil or Tulsi(Ocimum sanctum)

My friend Manchala's Dad just passed away. We were best friends when I was living in NTU, in Singapore. This plant reminds me of her, I used to make her laugh because I could pronounce the word Tulsi. I called it Tootsie. When you read this Tootsie, Manchala, do laugh for old times sake.

This is very sacred plant of the Indian community, the tulsi or Holy Basil and you can see the flower.

The Chinese call it peppermint. In the old days, they gave it to chicken with weak legs.

To many Europeon friends, the holy basil looks no difference from basil. Some use it in their salads.

I have two types, the ordinary tulsi and the black tulsi. I am told that the black tulsi is better of the two.

My Indian ladies friends perform a daily ritual called Pooja. This is some form of worship. Some men also do it. They sprinkle water and flowers on it.

Tulsi is used in Ayurvedic preparations. My friends collect leaves from my plants for treatment of colds, cough and fever. Sometimes, I have a jug of hot Tulsi tea. It is refreshing and very good for my sinus.

The Tulsi plants has be instrumental to help me make friends from India. They grow easily in my garden. They tell me that how a Tulsi plant grows depends on your karma. if your Karma is good, your plants will be thrive. In deed, I know if some people whose plants die despite getting a healthy plants from me.


The natural habitat of Tulsi varies from sea level to an altitude of 2000 m. It is found growing naturally in moist soil nearly all over the globe.

In India, Hindus grow Tulsi as a religious plant in their homes, temples and their farms. They use Tulsi leaves in routine worship.

Tulsi is a branched, fragrant and erect herb having hair all over. It attains a height of about 75 to 90 cm when mature. Its leaves are nearly round and up to 5 cm long with the margin being entire or toothed. These are aromatic because of the presence of a kind of scented oil in them.

Tulsi flowers are small having purple to reddish color, present in small compact clusters on cylindrical spikes. The fruits are small and the seeds yellow to reddish in color. Because of its medicinal virtues, Tulsi is used in Ayurvedic preparations for treating various ailments.

Tulsi leaves contain a bright yellow volatile oil which is useful against insects and bacteria. The principal constituents of this oil are Eugenol, eugenol methyl ether and carvacrol. The oil is reported to possess anti-bacterial properties and acts as an insecticide. It inhibits the in vitro growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Micrococcus pyogenes var. aureus. It has marked insecticidal activity against mosquitoes. The juice of leaves, and or a concoction, called jushanda, a kind of tea, gives relief in common cold, fever, bronchitis, cough, digestive complaints, etc. When applied locally, it helps in eradicating ringworms and other skin diseases. Tulsi oil is also used as ear drops in case of pain. The seeds are used in curing urinary problems. Aphrodisiac virtue has been attributed to it, where powdered Tulsi root with clarified butter (ghee) is prescribed.

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