BASIL vs Tulsi’s Many Wonders

10-great-ways-to-use-Basil-leaf-for-health-and-cookingBasil is praised for its health promoting and disease preventing properties.  It is the sacred basil that has captivated the imagination of man, long before the times of Rigveda for good health and its environmental benefits.  This plant has made important strides in the field of science since ancient times.

Holy Basil has often been confused with the more commonly used name Basil although they are cousins.  Today, the Basil leaf is used mainly as a culinary herb to enliven cooking. Strictly speaking, Tulsi and Basil are two different leaves meant for different purposes. Tulsi is otherwise called Ocimum tenuiflorum. It is an aromatic plant and its leaves are highly scented. Basil on the other hand is called as Sweet Basil. It is often referred to as Saint Joseph’s Wort.

Its medicinal value is not as widely appreciated in the western world.  Symbolically Basil is known for its purity. Native to India, it graces shrines and homes as an aromatic perennial shrub. It is the most worshipped plant in Hindu tradition. The Tulsi leaves are used in temples for worship purposes and on special occasions such as marriage.

Tulsi has diverse healing properties, traditionally used by Hindus. It has now gained popularity where it is being recognised for its immense therapeutic properties, acts as an adaptogen.  It balances different processes in the body and is of great aid in stress management. Studies have shown that Tulsi to be effective in reducing blood sugar levels, and assists in controlling diabetes.  It is also proved to be effective in reducing cholesterol levels.  It has an anti-bacterial effect and anti-parasitic properties, makes it suitable for combating various infectious diseases.

The fresh Basil leaves are taken by many people daily, as it is effective against indigestion, headache, hysteria and cholera. Ocimum sanctum is the biological name of Tulsi which in the English language is called holy basil.  It contains biological active chemical compounds like ursolic acid, luteolin and apigenin extracted from leaves.  Tulsi is used in herbal Ayurvedic formulations for the respiratory tract diseases (including bronchitis and asthmatic conditions) as it provides great relief for coughs especially those predominated by kapha.  It acts rigorously on kapha hence it works as an expectorant providing relief from wet coughs.  Tulsi acts on the nervous system builds strength, relieves stress and also helps relieve chest pain.

Notably Tulsi works as an antibiotic eliminating bacteria, and therefore is often used in anti-tubercular treatments.  Basil finds great use in fever as it acts as an antipyretic, and provides strength to our body.   Beneficial results have also been seen in diabetes and micturition related problems. It is an antidote for many poisons and known to possess anti-cancerous properties.

The role of Tulsi cannot be ignored as it has played in maintaining its doctrine and value in every household.  Chemically, Tulsi contains alkaloids, carbohydrates, proteins glycosides, phenols, spooning, tannins and terrene.

Tulsi has been adored in almost all ancient Ayurvedic texts, mainly for its extraordinary medicinal properties. Ayurveda looks at disease from a holistic stance and disturbance of normal physiological functions of the body. In Ayurveda the faults cover vata, pitta and kapha literally meaning “wind, bile and phlegm”, this is where it plays an important health role.  While it alleviates kapha and vata, it aggravates pitta.  It has an extended action on humans mainly as a cough alleviator, a sweat inducer and a mitigator of indigestion and anorexia.

Tulsi possesses anti-stress or adaptogenic properties which have a staminator effect.  Extracts of Tulsi leaf help to inhibit the enzyme of filarial worm, anti-tubercular, anti-fungal, anti-viral function as it possess the hypo-choloestromic activity.

Tulsi is a popular home remedy for a number of ailments.  As an elixir has great medicinal significance, marked by it strong aroma and stringent taste, Tulsi is a kind of ‘Elixir of Life’ as it promotes longevity.  The plant extract can be utilised to prevent many illnesses such as inflammation, heart disease, stomach disorders, various forms of poisoning and malaria. Essential oil is extracted from Tulsi, and is mainly used in the manufacture of herbal toiletries. Tulsi is used as a universal remedy in cases of malarial fever.

Basil is used extensively in the Italian cuisine, and it originates from India. Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia also use Basil in their cuisines. Interestingly the leaves of basil taste pungent and strong.  The botanical name for Basil is Ocimum basilicum.

While most common varieties of Basil are treated as annuals, some are perennial in warm, tropical climates, including holy basil and a cultivar known as African Blue. Basil does not have any religious significance. It is used in the preparation of a variety of food. In fact it is one of the main ingredients in the preparation of ‘pesto’ a tasty Italian sauce. Sometimes basil is steamed with milk in the preparation of ice creams.

It is interesting to note that Basil is added in the food only in the last minute since its flavour gets totally lost if it is allowed to get cooked for a long time. This is an important observation to make in the use of Basil. As a matter of fact it can be preserved for a long time in the refrigerators. Basil seeds are used in the preparation of desserts. It is a traditional remedy that has been used in various cultures for hundreds of years there are many uses besides cooking. Here are some ideal everyday uses:

  1. Basil Pesto: Immensely popular with many pesto variations used in cultures worldwide. Add pesto to everything from pasta sauces, eggs, to meats, to slices of fresh cucumber.
  2. General Cooking: Basil is used across the globe in a variety of different cuisines.  It adds a depth flavour and lustre not rivalled by any other herbs.
  3. Calming the Stomach: Basil has a calming effect on the stomach – Prepare a Basil leaf infusion to drink, may help sooth indigestion and alleviate feelings of fullness.
  4. Coughs and Colds: Basil leaf helps alleviate coughs and colds. Chew fresh Basil leaves to calm coughing or make a calming tea of Basil leaves to help sooth illness.
  5. Facial Steam for Headache: A Basil leaf facial steam may help alleviate a headache. Add one tablespoon of dried basil leaf to 2 cups of boiling water in a large pot. Carefully lean over the pot, cover head with a towel and breathe in the steam for 5-10 minutes until headache starts to subside.
  6. Antibiotic properties: EU scientists are researching the use of basil oil as treatment for antibiotic resistant infections with Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, and Pseudomonas. May be effective in treating fever blisters (herpes).
  7. Stings and Bites: Should you get bitten or stung by an insect chew a basil leaf and apply to the bite this will help relieve the pain and draw out the venom.
  8. Ear Infections: It is believed that the essential oil is antibacterial, and drops of basil oil may relieve ear infections.
  9. Blood sugar: Some evidence shows that Basil may balance blood sugar levels if consumed regularly either in a juice or tea.
  10. Stress Reduction: Prepare 2 cups of strong Basil Leaf tea and add to a warm bath it helps reduce stress and facilitates relaxation.

If you brag about Basil as much as we do, we definitely recommend growing it too.

Ref: Eco Health Sense