Tulsi, or holy basil (ocimum sanctum), is considered to be a spiritual herb bestowed with great healing powers.

It holds a position of sanctitity and importance in the Hindu religion and tradition.

In every home in India, Hindus grow tulsi in the front courtyard and each morning women say their prayers before it for good health and happiness. It is an essential ingredient in all rituals of Hindu worship.

Tulsi is said to have been grown profusely in Vrindavana, the ancient city of Lord Krishna, God of the Hindus, to purify the air. Perhaps we could all grow holy basil, along with other herbs such as rosemary, lavender and lemon balm, in our front gardens and city parks to purify the polluted air we breathe.

Interestingly, holy basil has also held a special place in many parts of Europe, including Britain, from ancient times. It was used to pay obeisance and devotion to the Lord in the Greek (Eastern) church and every year, on the birth anniversary of St Basil, women would sanctify their homes by scattering blessed leaves for the good fortune and health of the family.

Holy basil is said to build immunity and is used in the treatment of many common conditions in Ayurvedic medicine. It is excellent for treating respiratory disorders such as coughs, flu, colds, asthma and chest infections.

To make basil tea, take five leaves of basil or half a teaspoon if using dried and some grated ginger. Steep in a glass of hot water.

Add a teaspoon of honey and lemon juice.

Drink this three to four times a day to relieve cough and infection.

Basil is also an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety herb which works best as tea.

It can also be mixed with chamomile and ginger. For children, one or two leaves steeped in hot water with honey is enough to help fever.

Basil leaves or juice can help digestion and flatulence. It is also said to help relieve migraine headaches, fatigue, insomnia and arthritis. Basil tea can also be helpful to nursing mothers in improving lactation or for easing backache. Essential oil of basil is excellent for headaches, mental fatigue, migraines and fever.

In Ayurveda, holy basil restores mental function and spirit by rebalancing the vata, or air and ether element, which controls the nervous energy. It is one of the ingredients of Asmita's Vata-Balance Ayurvedic Aromatherapy oil. When massaged on the forehead and temple, the vata oil helps relieve migraines, headaches, mental fatigue and disperses depressive moods.

When massaged on feet in reflexology, it helps relieve body-ache, fatigue and promotes good sleep.

By massaging it in to the calves and legs, it helps circulation, aches and cramps. Above all, holy basil promotes a beautiful skin and heals acne and other skin conditions.

Dr Milind Jani works as a conventional and
holistic GP and Dr Asmita Jani as Ayurvedic Consultant from 3 Eaton Gardens, Hove.

Call them on: 01273 777448 or email: milind.jani@ntlworld.com