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Health and Holy Tulsi



Tulsi in some major Ayurvedic works


The following are the uses of Tulsi in some major Ayurvedic works.

Shree Aryabbishak

Tulsi is known to be a very holy plant among Hindus. The Tulsi plant grows to the height of approximately two to four feet (60 to 120 cms). According to the colour of the leaves, there are two main varieties of Tulsi, the light and the dark varieties. The leaves of one variety are rather dark in colour, while those of the other variety are bright green. Tulsi bears clusters of flowers (inflorescences), in which seeds are formed.

These inflorescences (or manjaris) and Tulsi leaves are used in devotional offerings during pooja worship of gods and goddesses. The leaves and seeds possess a characteristic aroma. Some medicinal preparations are subjected to the process of bhavna with the help of Tulsi juice.

‘Marva’ is also a variety of Tulsi, with qualities similar to those of Tulsi. The darker variety of Tulsi is superior in its medicinal properties to the lighter-coloured variety. A Tulsi plant in the courtyard promotes health. A certain gas emanating from the Tulsi plant destroys the deleterious substances in the surrounding air and thus purifies it.

Tulsi is slightly bitter, hot, sharp in taste, fragrant and a stimulator of appetite. It destroys vayu, kapha, swellings, worms and a tendency to vomit. Both the lighter and the darker varieties of Tulsi are pungent in taste, hot in physiological action, sharp, causing a burning sensation, promoting the secretion’ of pitta, beneficial to the heart, somewhat bitter, stimulating the digestive organs, and easy to digest. Both of them destroy vayu, asthma, cough, hiccups, worms, vomiting, bad odours, leucoderma, pain in the flanks, toxins, dysuria, abnormalities of the blood, harassment by evil spirits, pains, fevers and spasms. They are used in the treatment of fevers, disinclination to work, lassitude, lack of appetite, burning sensation, abnormalities of vata and pitta.

Preparations :

(1) Laghuraajamriganka, (2) Tulsi Taila (Oil).

(1) Laghuraajamriganka : This is prepared by mixing equal proportions of Tulsi juice, ghee prepared from cow’s milk, and pepper.

(2) Tulsi Taila : This is prepared by taking equal proportions of Tulsi leaf paste, the roots of bhoringani plant, danti roots, vaj, bark of the drumstick tree, dry (stone) ginger, pepper, piper longurn, and saindhav salt, adding til (seasame) oil four times the combined weight of the above ingredients, and water sixteen times the combined weight of the ingredients, and letting the oil mature.

Qualities :
Destroyer of kapha, hot in action.

Uses :

Tulsi leaves are useful in the treatment of excessive phlegm, coughs and pain in the flanks. Tulsi is used to get rid of the excessive amounts of phlegm that accumulate in some kinds of coughs.
Used in the treatment of vatajwara (influenza).
Tulsi is usually mixed with other medicines. This results in reducing somnolence, and thus reducing the soporific effects. The patient stops murmuring incoherently in a semi-conscious condition, and regains consciousness.
Tulsi is used less frequently by itself, but much more extensively as anupaan, i.e. as a salubrious addendum to other medicines to reinforce their action.
It is an appetiser and so promotes appetite. It cures colic, flatulence, and gas in the stomach.
Toothache can be cured by pressing a paste of crushed ginger enfolded in two or three Tulsi leaves on either side, with the aching teeth. This treatment with a piece of ginger and Tulsi leaves is very effective in the treatment of toothache, whether due to cavities in the teeth or to any other reason.
Tulsi juice taken with pepper powder is beneficial in typhoid fever.
Lesions in the nostrils resulting in Ozena (Atrophic rhinitis) can be successfully treated by inhaling dried powdered Tulsi leaves.
Decay in the nasal passages is cured by instilling Tulsi Taila into the nostrils.

Dose :

Juice 20 grammes;
Laghuraajarnriganka 10, grammes.

Sushrut Ayurveda

The variety of Tulsi that bears White inflorescences and has bright green leaves is a destroyer of kapha, vayu, toxins, asthma, coughs and bad odours.
It stimulates the secretion of pitta, and relieves pain in the flanks.
The variety of Tulsi that bears dark inflorescences, and the two other varieties known as ‘kshudra’ Tulsi and ‘Bhoostrina’ are all destroyers of kapha.
They are easily digestible, dry and somewhat snigdha, mild and ameliorating.
They are also ‘ushnaveerya’, increasing the vitality of the body; they promote the secretion of pitta and are sharp in effect and taste.

Traditional Homely Therapeutics

It has already been explained that ‘anupaan’ implies salubrious accompaniments to medicines which help to reinforce and increase the efficacy of other medicines. A list of anupaans for various disorders is being given below.

Fevers :

  • Tea (decoction) prepared from Tulsi and bilwa leaves;
  • Decoction prepared from Tulsi leaves, bilwa leaves and dry ginger;
  • Decoction of Tulsi leaves;
  • Tulsi leaf juice and honey.

  • Typhoid fever :

  • Tulsi juice;
  • Mixed juices of ginger and Tulsi.

  • Excess of Kapha and Asthma :Tulsi juice and crystal sugar.

    Diabetes : Bangabhasma and Tulsi leaves.

    Excessive Vayu: Pravaiabhashma (calcined coral), honey or crystal sugar, and Tulsi juice; pure sulphur, Tulsi juice and ghee.

    Night Blindness :Pravalabhasma and the droppings of mice should be ground with honey, and the resulting paste should be applied, like an ointment, to the eyes.

    Tulsi :
    Tulsi plants grow wild in all sorts of land and climates. They are also grown in gardens, and Hindus with a religious inclination grow the plants in pots or in the courtyards of their homes. Small dark seeds, smaller than those of tukmariya or of mustard, are formed in the inflorescences.

    There are two main varieties of Tulsi :

  • Krishna Tulsi : it is so named because of the darker colour of its twigs and leaves.
  • Shweta or Ram Tulsi : the leaves, stem and twigs of which are green in colour. The medicinal virtues of both are the same.

    Medicinal Virtues

  • Hot in effect, sharp in taste, and stimulator of appetite. Useful in the treatment of excess of vayu, asthma, coughs, hiccups, vomiting, worms, toxins, harassment due to evil spirits and microorganisms, fevers and spasms.
  • Decoction (tea) of Tulsi leaves about 10 grammes of Tulsi leaves boiled in 50 grammes of water till half or three quarters of the water has been boiled away yields a decoction, which on drinking will cure fevers, lassitude, lack of appetite, burning sensation, and will counter the effects of excessive formation of vayu or pitta.

  • Many disorders of the body can be cured and the body nourished and strengthened by regularly drinking a decoction of Tulsi (Tulsi tea) with some milk, sugar and cardamom.

    Preparation : Tulsi leaf juice should be taken with powdered pepper seeds.


    Various appellations of the dark and light varieties of Tulsi — Tulasi, surasa, gramya, sulabha, bahumanjari, apetaraakshasi, gauri, shoolaghni and devadundubhi are some of the Sanskrit appellations of Tulsi, each one of which is significant.

  • One that has no equal, bears or tolerates no comparison, and so is beyond comparison - Tulasi
  • The rasa or juice of which is best— Suras.
  • One that flourishes in open land especially in village areas — Gramya.
  • One that can be obtained easily — Sulabha.
  • One that bears many clusters of flowers, or inflorescences - Bahumanjari.
  • One from whose sight rakshasas and sins (which share the evil nature of rakshasas) flee - Apetaraakshasi.
  • The fair one, the light-coloured one (describing 1ighter coloured variety of Tulsi) — Gauri.
  • One that destroys (kills) pain—Shoolaghni.
  • One that gives pleasure to the gods, and so is pleasure-giving as the dundubhi drums — Devadundubhi.

    Qualities of the Shyama and Shweta varieties

    Tulsi is sharp and bitter in taste, beneficial to the heart, and stimulator of the digestive system. Both the lighter-coloured and darker varieties are similar in their medicinal virtues.

    The appellations and qualities of the Barbari variety of Tulsi :
  • Barbari, Tuvari, Tungi, Kharapushpa, Ajagandhika and Parnsa are the Sanskrit appellations of Barbari Tulsi. But the darker variety of Barbari Tulsi is known as Kathinjar or Kutherak.
  • The lighter-coloured variety of Barbari Tulsi is known as Arjak. There is a third variety, of Barbari Tulsi, which is known as Vatapatra.
  • All the three varieties are dry, cool in effect and bitter in taste, cause a burning sensation, are sharp, stimulate appetite are beneficial to the heart, increase the powers of digestion, are easy to digest and stimulate the production of pitta.
  • These varieties of Tulsi are therefore effective in curing excess of kapha, vata, toxaemia, itching and worms. They are also good antidotes for poisons.

  • The significance of the various names of the Barbari varieties of Tulsi is explained below :
  • One that accepts a large variety of different kinds of virtues - Barbari.
  • One whose juice is somewhat bitter, or one that destroys kapha, vayu and toxins - Tuvari.
  • One that destroys poisons, or one that grows to a great height - Tungi.
  • One that bears rough, hard flower clusters - Kharapushp.
  • One that possesses a smell resembling that of goats - Ajagandhika.
  • One that sheds leaves, or that has a beauteous appearance because of leaves - Parnasa.
  • One that helps the digestion of even hard materials because of its sharpness and capacity to stimulate digestion - kathinjar, the darker variety of Barbari Tulsi.
  • One that destroys kapha, vayu, etc. - Kutherak, the darker variety of Barbari Tulsi.
  • One that confers or acquires a fair complexion - Arjak, the lighter-coloured variety of Barbari Tulsi.
  • One whose leaves resemble the leaves of the banyan tree - VataPatra, the third variety of Barbari Tulsi.

  • According to Atharvaveda any major disease that has penetrated into the skin, the flesh or the bones is eliminated by Rama (White) Tulsi. Shyama Tulsi is a beautifier, eliminating all skin diseases, restoring the skin to its normal and natural state. Tulsi is wonderfully beneficial for the skin.

    According to Bhavamishra tulsi is bitter and sharp in taste, beneficial to the heart, hot in action, causes a burning sensation, promotes the secretion of bile and stimulates appetite. It cures leprosy, dysuria, toxaemia, and pain in the flanks, and destroys kapha and vata. Both the white and the dark varieties are medicinally of equal merit.

    According to Nighanturatnakar both the white and dark varieties of Tulsi are bitter and sharp in taste and hot in effect. They cause a burning sensation, stimulate the production of bile, and benefit the heart. They stimulate appetite, are easy to digest and destroy kapha, respiratory disorders, coughs, hiccups and Worms. They cure vomiting, bad odours, leprosy, pain in the flanks, effects of toxins, dysuria, toxaemia, harassment due to evil spirits, pains, fevers and hiccups.

    According to Rajnighantu, Tulsi is bitter and sharp, it stimulates appetite, destroys kapha and vata, and kills minute organisms.

    According to Padmapurana, Uttarkhanda wherever the aroma of Tulsi is carried by the wind, it purifies the atmosphere and frees all animals from all baser tendencies.

    According to Skandapurana, Padmapurana, Uttarkhanda, every home with a Tulsi plant is a place of pilgrimage, and no diseases, messengers of yama the God of Death can enter it.

    According to Rajavallabh, Tulsi has healing and curative properties. It destroys vata, worms and foul odour. It has the capacity to overcome disorders like dryness, coughs, laboured breathing, lack of appetite and pain in the ribs.

    According to Dhanvantarinighantu, Tulsi is light, hot, neutralises kapha, cures disorders caused by worms, stimulates appetite and promotes digestion.

    Tulsi is bitter, sharp in taste and hot in its action. It destroys worms and micro-organisms. It conquers kapha and vata. It stimulates digestion. It is dry, stimulates appetite and is helpful in vomiting.

    Tulsi prevents untimely death (confers longevity) and destroys all kinds of disorders.
    When the ocean was churned by Lord Vishnu to obtain amrit, among the medicinal herbs which he created for the welfare of all living things the first one to be created was Tulsi.
    No servants of Yama can retain a footing in a house where there is water and soil sanctified by Tulsi. That is to say, in houses where water and soil which have been in contact with Tulsi are used, disease germs cannot thrive.

    Vegetables prepared from Kathinjar (Krishna Tulsi) leaves are heavy, difficult to digest, and cause dryness and constipation. But if the vegetables are prepared by first boiling the leaves, squeezing them to remove excess fluids, and then sauteing them in plenty of ghee, it is soothing in taste and effect, makes the semen milder and relieves constipation. (Charak, sootras).

    Vishnu, the Lord of the Three Worlds, takes up abode in the village or the house where Tulsi is grown. In such a house no one suffers calamities like poverty, illness or separation from dear ones.


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