Holy Basil (TULASI)
Every Hindu keeps these plants in his house. A special altar is consecrated for the purpose. Daily worship is offered. It is adored as a goddess. The leaf is offered to Lord Hari, Lord Rama, and Lord Krishna during worship. Food that is prepared in the house is first offered to Tulasi (holy basil).
Binda, wife of Sankhachuda, was favored by Lord Krishna and transformed into this herb. Tulasi Jayanti is celebrated on Sukla Dvadasi in the month of Kartika (October-November). Every Sukla Dvadasi is very famous for Tulasi worship.
Holy Basil is a well-known small herb in India about 1 to 3 feet high. It is found in most of the gardens. It is cultivated for its medicinal value and worship in Hindu temples, especially by the Vaishnavites.
There are two important varieties. One is black and the other white. The black variety is most efficacious medicinally. There are the red and blue varieties also. The other varieties are mul-tulasi, kal-tulasi, nai-tulasi, ‘tiruneetu pacchalai’, etc. The white variety is called Siva-tulasi also The black one is called Krishnatulasi. Tiruneetu Pacchalai is also called Vibhuti-pacchalai or Rama-tulasi. In Hindi it is called Sabja.
The leaves possess stimulant, expectorant, aromatic, carminative, anti-febric, anti-periodic and diaphoretic properties. The seed is a demulcent.
The whole Tulsi plant is used for medicinal purpose but the leaves are generally used. The leaf checks the formation of sputum in the respiratory passages. It is beneficial in bronchitis, pneumonia, whooping cough, influenza, consumption and asthma. It is beneficial in every disease where there is excess of sputum.
The power of dry leaves is used as snuff in ozaena for destroying maggots. Like eucalyptus, Tulasi drives away all mosquitoes. It is advisable to keep Tulsi plant in front of the houses and backyards. If the body is covered with leaves, mosquitoes will not bite.
Tulasi is useful in all kinds of insect bites. In snakebite it is very efficacious. Rub the bitten part well with the juice of Tulasi. It may be repeated. Internally give two teaspoonfuls of the juice. Apply the leaves as poultice to the part.
Tulasi tea is very useful in fever and cold. You can add milk also to this tea. This tea can be given to children and babies when they suffer from fever and cough. Or the juice of fresh leaves can be given. The juice can be mixed with a little honey or breast milk. If it is given with an equal quantity of fresh ginger juice, the effect is more marked. The powder of a little pepper and long pepper may also be added.
The leaves are rubbed with the limb juice over ringworm.
The medicated oil (Tulasi leaves boiled with gingelly oil) is used in earache and discharge of pus from the ear. It is put into the nose in ozaena.
The seeds are mucilaginous. They are used as diuretic in scanty urine and cough. Tulasi is useful in scorpion bite, constipation, and remittent and intermittent fevers.
In Malaya people keep the leaves over the graves of their dead for the peace and welfare of the departed soul.