Queen of Herbs | Daily News
Holy Basil/Tulsi

Queen of Herbs

Most people may not be aware that there is a herb that could be growing in their very own home gardens that is worshiped in the morning and evening by Hindus all over the world.

Those who practice Hinduism know the Tulsi (Heen Madurutala) plant well. Not only are they aware of its amazing health benefits, but they revere it as an object of worship. Almost 80 percent of the population in India is Hindus and the Tulsi plant is widely known. However though Hinduism is the second most prevalent religion in Sri Lanka the plant itself is not widely known here. However, this valuable herb is abundant in this country growing almost everywhere. Green Thumbs speaks to Institute of Indigenous Medicine, Department of Dravyaguna Vignana, Senior Lecturer, Dr. S. D. Hapuarachchi on the Tulsi plant regarded as an earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi.

Sanskrit texts regard Tulsi as a manifestation of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Is health not wealth? Like Buddhists attach spiritual significance to the Bo Tree, Hindus attach spiritual significance to the Tulsi, but of course there are obvious differences with the Tulsi plant regarded as a manifestation. The problem is that most Sri Lankans are not aware of how important this plant/ weed/ herb is and what it has to offer.

Tulsi is a small shrub (Ocimum Sanctum) and Hapuarachchi pointed out that when we have flu and wheezing problems, some mothers in Sri Lanka offer the child Koththamalli. The Tulsi leaves are known to have many medical properties. When preparing Koththamalli, when boiling the Koththamalli, Tulsi leaves are sometimes added. Tulsi leaves are very aromatic.

Koththamalli also has an aroma but when you add Tulsi leaves the aroma is more appealing. The fumes become more sweet- smelling. Also when Tulsi leaves are added to the Koththamalli, the potion is made stronger medicinally. It is good for sore throat, headache and viral infections. Biting the leaves and swallowing it also helps. Even without boiling it with Koththamalli, water boiled with Tulsi leaves can be taken as drink in case of the sore throat. This water can also be used as a gargle.

“When it comes to the Tulsi plant, the leaves and flowers are very valuable. Sometimes the Tulsi leaves are eaten raw. Sometimes the leaves and flowers are boiled in water and consumed. It then becomes herbal tea. There is something lacking in a Hindu household without a Tulsi plant. It is normally grown in a pot inside the house. I cannot overemphasize enough how important the leaves are. Also it is an excellent mosquito repellent. When the leaves are burnt, the fumes repel the mosquitos,” said Hapuarachchi.

As we live in the tropics during certain seasons malaria and dengue fever are widely prevalent. Some sources advise that using the tender leaves boiled with tea act as preventive against these diseases.

Hapuarachchi added that the Tulsi plant is highly regarded as a plant of immense health benefits as it is called in Eastern countries as ‘Mother Medicine of Nature’, ‘The Queen of Herbs’ and ‘Elixir of Life’. However it is incorrect to say that the plant is unheard of in the West. In European countries it is called the ‘Holy Basil’ and it is known as herb that Ayurveda considers incredibly beneficial for human health.

Tulsi is known for its mental health benefits. We live in a world full of stress and pressure. It is a rat race and so many people suffer stress related disorders. However Tulsi is recommended as a remedy that brings about calmness and helps fight anxiety. However as with all herbs it is advisable to consult a physician when consuming large quantities of anything.

Hapuarachchi also provided Green Thumbs with some facts she has unearthed saying that the Tulsi plant reduces air pollution and that hundreds of Tulsi plants have been planted around the Taj Mahal to preserve the structure. Hapuarachchi also pointed out that Tulsi is used ceremonially to create Holy Water by practitioners of Hinduism and some Greek Orthodox Churches.

“Every part of the Tulsi plant is valuable – the leaves, stem, flower, root, seeds and oil. Even the soil surrounding the plant is sacred. Regular consumption of Tulsi helps protect and detoxify the body’s cells and organs. It helps relax and calm the mind. It performs anti-depressant activity. Tulsi is the ideal tonic for the body, mind and spirit,” said Hapuarachchi.

The Padma Purana, one of the eighteen major Puranas, a genre of texts in Dharmic religions even states that the Tulsi helps you after you die. It declares that a person who is cremated with Tulsi twigs in his funeral pyre gains moksha and a place in Vishnu’s abode. The Tulsi stick is used to burn a lamp for Vishnu, it is considered an action of great respect to the deities. 


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