The Greek word for basil is ‘king’ which speaks highly of the qualities of this aromatic herb. Basil plant, particularly the leaves, has great significance for mankind, not only because of its culinary uses but also due to its medicinal properties. Holy basil leaves have been widely used in Ayurveda since thousands of years. This herb is even mentioned in the “Charaka Samhita”, an ancient Ayurvedic text due to its excellent healing properties. In fact, basil leaves or tulsi leaves are considered as a universal cure for numerous diseases and promote longevity and overall well-being.
The uses of tulsi leaves / basil leaves are so many that we have divided them into the categories of health, skin and hair for better reading.
The leaves of this miraculous herb are considered as an herbal remedy for common ailments and boast of countless health benefits some of which are given below.
1. Healing Properties:
Due to their excellent healing properties, basil leaves strengthen the stomach and facilitate copious perspiration. They are effective in removing catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tube. Basil leaves have antiseptic properties and are hence, used in the treatment of ulcers, cuts and wounds. They help in reducing the pain caused by measles, chicken pox and small pox. A mixture of basil leaves juice and coconut oil can be applied on cuts and wounds to give relief.
2. Treatment of Fever:
Being rich in phytonutrients and healing oil, basil leaves are effective in curing malarial and dengue fevers. Tender basil leaves boiled with tea should be given to the patient. In case of very high fever, basil leaves boiled with powdered cardamom in ½ liter of water mixed with sugar and milk should be given to the patient at an interval of 3 hours to bring down the temperatures. Basil leaves form good germicidal and a natural disinfectant that protects the body against all types of viral and bacterial infections.
3. Treatment of Common Cold and Cough:
Basil leaves are effective in alleviating coughing and colds. Chewing fresh leaves or drinking a tea of dried basil leaves can calm coughing and relieve cold and flu. Basil leaves are used as an ingredient in cough syrups and expectorants and help to mobilize mucus in bronchitis and asthma.
4. Treatment of Sore Throat:
A concoction made by boiling basil leaves in water can be taken as a drink or used for gargling to get relief from sore throat.
5. Heal Stings and Bites:
Chewing a basil leaf or applying the juice of basil leaves on the area stung or bitten by an insect will help relieve the pain as well as draw the venom out.
6. Beneficial for Children:
The juice of basil leaves is extremely beneficial in case of common pediatric such as cough, cold, diarrhea and vomiting. Basil leaves taken with saffron hasten the appearance of chicken pox pustules. Children experiencing loose motion at the time of tooth eruption can be given a mixture of pomegranate juice and powder of dried basil leaves for quick relief.
7. Relief from Frequent Vomiting:
If you are suffering from frequent vomiting, you can try having a mixture of basil leaves juice, ginger juice and honey for immediate relief.
8. Relieve Stress and Sharpen the Mind:
Basil leaves are considered as an ‘adaptogen’ or anti-stress agent. Chewing around 12 basil leaves twice a day on a regular basis purifies your blood, prevents stress and develops a sharp mind.
9. Beneficial in Cancer:
Having a mixture of 10 grams of juice of basil leaves in 20-30 grams fresh curd or 2-3 spoons of honey religiously is likely to cure cancer.
10. Aid in Weight Loss and Curb Laziness:
Basil leaves taken with home-made fresh curd help in reducing excess weight and fight laziness by renewing your energy levels and facilitating new blood cells formation.
11. Beneficial for Eyes:
Being rich in vitamin A, basil leaves play an important role in eye health. You can soak a few basil leaves in water and wash your eyes with them every morning and before going to bed to prevent conjunctivitis, swelling, inflammations, boils and other infections. Basil leaves act as relaxants for your eyes to sooth stress induced fine lines. Chewing a couple of basil leaves helps to ward off eye problems caused by free radicals such as vision degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma. Basil leaves juice is an effective remedy for sore eyes and night blindness.
12. Dental Health:
Basil leaves can be dried in the sun, powdered and used for brushing teeth or mixed with mustard oil to be used as toothpaste for maintaining dental health and massaging the gums. It is also effective in curing pyorrhea and other teeth disorders. The anti-bacterial agents in basil leaves prevent bacteria build up whereas the antioxidants ensure clean plaque free teeth.
13. Help to Get Rid of Bad Breath:
Bad breath can be detrimental to your self-confidence. Basil leaves can be a healthy substitute to special toothpastes and chewing gums to ward off bad breath. You can chew a handful of basil leaves to prevent bad breath.
14. Helpful in Quitting Smoking:
Chain smokers can try chewing basil leaves to get rid of their addiction. These can be more beneficial than nicotine patches, flavored gum or even plain candy to curb the urge. While the juice has a cooling effect on your throat, the chewing will distract you and the antioxidants will repair the damage caused due to years of smoking.
15. Treatment of Kidney stones:
The juice of basil leaves taken with honey regularly for 6 months will expel kidney stones from the urinary tract.
16. Relief from Headache:
Basil leaves are considered a great medicine for headache. A facial steam of dried basil leaf is effective in alleviating headache. For this purpose, add a tablespoon of dried basil leaves to 2 cups of water in a large pot. Covering your head with towel, carefully lean over the pot and breathe in the steam for 5 to 10 minutes. You can also apply pounded basil leaves mixed in sandalwood paste on your forehead to get relief from heat and headache as well as cooling effect in general.
17. Treatment of Respiratory Disorders:
A decoction of basil leaves with honey and ginger is a natural remedy for respiratory disorders like bronchitis, asthma, cough and cold. A decoction made by boiling basil leaves and cloves in half a liter of water mixed with salt gives immediate relief in case of influenza.
18. Good for Heart:
Basil leaves purify the blood by removing toxins. Basil leaf tea helps in controlling blood pressure. Basil leaves contain an antioxidant eugenol that helps in reducing cholesterol levels and blood glucose levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks and other cardiac diseases.
Benefits of Basil Leaves on Skin:
As far as skincare is concerned, basil leaves are an excellent skin rejuvenator which have the potential to ward off skin diseases, thus providing you with a clearer and healthier skin. Whether eaten raw or applied as paste, basil leaves offer a host of benefits for your skin.
19. Prevention of Acne and Pimples:
Basil leaves prevent the outburst of acne and pimples as they purify your blood by removing toxins. They contain anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents and you can apply a paste of these leaves mixed with sandalwood paste, neem paste or rose water to prevent inflammation.
20. Beneficial for Facial Skin:
Rubbing dried basil leaves on your face improves your facial skin in many ways, giving it a younger and fresher appearance. Applying a paste of basil leaves on your face and neck improves your skin tone.
21. Prevention of Blackheads:
Basil leaves also prevent the appearance of blackheads. Wet the top side of the basil and place one leaf on each side of your nose for 5 minutes. After this take it off and wash your face.
22. Treatment of Skin Infections and Ringworms:
Due to their anti-bacterial, anti-biotic and anti-fungal properties, basil leaves can restrict the growth of bacterium like E coli and B anthracis which cause skin infections. A concoction prepared by grinding and boiling 200-250 grams of basil leaves with equal quantity of sesame seed oil can be applied on the skin to cure itching. A mixture of ground basil leaves and lemon juice can be applied on the skin to treat ringworm.
23. Treatment of Vitiligo:
Regular intake of basil leaves has the potential to cure ‘vitiligo’, a disease characterized by white patches on the skin.
Benefits of Basil Leaves on Hair:
Basil leaves are equally beneficial for your hair and can help you get rid of a host of hair problems. The benefits of basil leaves for hair care are as follows.
24. Prevention of Hair Loss:
Hair loss is a common problem which can occur due to itchiness and sweatiness of scalp. You can make a paste of basil leaves and add it to your hair oil. Applying this oil on your scalp will keep your scalp cool, reduce itchiness and promote hair growth by improving circulation in your scalp.
25. Treatment of Grey Hair:
For this purpose, soak dried basil leaves powder and amla powder in water overnight and wash your hair with it after straining it the next morning. This prevents graying of hair as well as hair fall.
26. Strengthen the Hair Shaft:
If you are suffering from brittle hair or hair thinning, you can consider basil leaves as they are effective in strengthening the hair shaft.
27. Rejuvenate Hair Follicles:
Basil leaves help in rejuvenating and producing healthy hair by stimulating the hair follicles.
28. Prevention of Damage by Radiation:
Basil leaves have antioxidant properties. They contain the flavonoids, orientin and vicenin that protect the chromosomes and cell structures from oxidation, thus preventing cell ageing and death and providing protection against radiation damage.