Tulsi - The Psychic Plant

Swami Nadabrahmananda Saraswati

"That house is a holy place in front of which a tulsi plant is growing. Evil spirits never dare to enter such places and other destructive diseases also don't come there. The smell of tulsi purifies the atmosphere, wherever it is."
Padamottar Purana

Tulsi, a form of sweet basil in English and ocimun sanctum in Latin, is a sacred plant and a marvelous remedial herb. According to ancient tradition, every Indian home must have a tulsi plant growing in the courtyard. Early in the morning the ladies water it and before each meal is served, a small portion of food is offered to it. Every evening a special lamp is lit and pooja is done in front of the plant. Whenever the ladies feel troubled or in need of consolation, they go to the tulsi plant and unburden their hearts. It is said that she listens like a mother and offers solace. Tulsi is also known as mother because Lord Krishna married her in the form of Shaligram.

According to the Puranas, the ritual offerings made by the worshipper are worthless unless tulsi leaves are included. If the devotee is unable to obtain the requisite items, even a single tulsi leaf is sufficient to make an offering. In the temple, a brass or silver pot filled with water and some leaves of tulsi is placed in front of the image. When the devotees come, they are given a little bit of this water, called charanamrita, to drink. This emulsion has been proved to alleviate many physical disorders and increase strength. Being a spiritual plant, the stem of tulsi can be made into malas which are used in mantra repetition.

Remedial Uses

According to ayurveda, there are two kinds of tulsi - black and white. Black tulsi is stronger and has therapeutic properties. It is good for digestion and taken inappropriate amounts it alleviates wind, respiratory illnesses, cough, hiccup and worms. It is also an excellent remedy for vomiting, impure blood, toxins, hysteria, stomach pain and fever. It has even been recommended as an adjunct to therapy for tetanus and leprosy.

For tetanus a mixture of tulsi leaf extract, onion, garlic and ginger is very efficacious. Claims have been made that leprous ulcers can be healed by applying the juice or a poultice of tulsi leaves. Tulsi is especially good for winter illnesses. An extract of tulsi root or the juice of the leaves mixed with ground black pepper is given for fever. In the case of prolonged high fever, a massage with tulsi juice is said to calm the patient and stop dangerous side effects from arising. The juice of the leaves mixed with honey is given for coughs and colds, sinusitis, digestive problems and other disorders of the mucus membranes. It is also beneficial for blood dysentery in children. A drop of warm tulsi juice put into the ear relieves earache. A powder of tulsi leaves and black pepper relieves toothache.

Tulsi tea made from the fresh leaves is good for fever, lassitude, inflammation, etc. It purifies the digestive system, removing toxins and bile from the intestines, and is a marvelous remedy for liver disorders in children.

Tulsi leaves have a therapeutic effect on skin diseases because of their antibiotic properties. A mixture of tulsi and lemon juice removes ringworm. Itch can be relieved by covering the affected area with a plaster of tulsi leaves. Infected wounds can be healed by applying the powder of dry tulsi leaves.

The ancient ayurvedic texts such as Charaka, Susruta and Vagbhatta state that tulsi is very efficacious in removing snake poison. Now, doctors and researchers are coming to the same conclusion. Two handfuls of tulsi leaves are eaten, and ground tulsi root mixed with butter should be plastered on the bite. In the beginning the plaster appears white, but it is said to gradually turn black as it draws out the poison. The plaster should be changed as many times as it blackens.

Occurrences of malaria fever can be controlled by growing tulsi plants all around the areas where malaria is dominant. On April 29th 1904 Sir George Woodward published the following report in the Times of India:

"'When the Victoria Garden and Albert Zoo were under construction in Bombay, many of the coolies were suffering from malaria until one of the workers suggested planting tulsi around the area. After that was done, all the mosquitoes disappeared and the malaria problem was solved."

Later on in l907 the Imperial Malaria Conference declared black tulsi as an excellent remedy for malaria. Two doctors of the Imperial Institute, London, reported that tulsi leaves contain an evaporative oil which diffuses into the air of the surrounding atmosphere and kills the germs of the fever.

The purifying and healing properties of tulsi certainly warrant further research. This highly respected and useful plant, not commonly known outside of India, is a very beneficial addition to any flower garden and can also be kept as a pot plant inside or out-side the home.