"Tulsi" (Ocimum tenuiflorum) also known as 'Holy Basil' in English (not the same as 'Basil' found here in the US), is a very sacred plant to the Hindus. I remember we would have at least 5-6 plants of the two varieties of tulsi in our balcony back in Bombay,where I grew up. One variety had purplish-green leaves,which my grand mom said was called "Krishna" tulsi and the other had light green leaves and was referred to as the "Laksmi" tulsi. Both varieties have medicinal properties,but my grandmother believed that the "Krishna" tulsi was superior in it's healing properties.
It's generally believed that eating the leaves first thing in the morning is good for general well-being.We never used the leaves for any recipes as such, but it was used as a home remedy for coughs and colds. I still remember being given some sea salt and black pepper corn,wrapped inside a couple of tulsi leaves whenever I caught a cold/ sore throat (and how I hated chewing on it). Well,I wasn't much of a believer in natural remedies at that age, and popping a pill seemed like a more 'civilized' thing to little me! There was also a concoction of the leaves which was known as 'tulsi tea' with some honey and lime juice.
Ayurveda refers to tulsi as an "elixir of life" and believes it can promote longevity. It's used in a number of ayurvedic remedies including inflammation and malaria.
I've seen basil (Ocimum basilicum) here in the US (which is also supposed to have some anti-bacterial properties),but haven't really used it. In the past couple of days 'tulsi' has been popping up in conversations/emails .I even read about it in an article in the Times Of India's online edition.
India seems to be in the grip of swine flu and the author of the article(who happens to be a firm believer in natural and alternative remedies) lists 'tulsi' as one of the 10 home remedies to strengthen the immune system.
Right now strengthening the immune system to prevent getting infected from the swine flu sounds like the best option. I don't pooh-pooh the idea of natural remedies anymore(though I still would love to see studies to support the theory) and would not think twice about eating the leaves,if it means that I would be taking one less medication!
Question: Do you think plants have the ability to cure/prevent an ailment or do you feel that when it comes to curing, only 'modern' medicines do the trick?