Tulsi or Tulasi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) or Holy basil is a sacred plant in Hindu belief. Hindus regard it as an earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi, a consort of the god Vishnu. The offering of its leaves is mandatory in ritualistic worship of Vishnu and his forms like Krishna and Vithoba.
Many Hindus have tulsi plants growing in front of or near their home, often in special pots or special small masonry structures. Traditionally, Tulsi is planted in the center of the central courtyard of Hindu houses. The plant is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes, and for its essential oil. It is widely known across South Asia as a medicinal plant and a herbal tea, commonly used in Ayurveda.
Tulsi has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda for its diverse healing properties. It is mentioned in the Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic text. Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen, balancing different processes in the body, and helpful for adapting to stress. Marked by its strong aroma and astringent taste, it is regarded in Ayurveda as a kind of "elixir of life" and believed to promote longevity. It is an elixir for cough; the leaves when chewed after meals acts as a digestive, and when taken before and after cold water bath controls temperature in the stomach and prevents cold. If sprinkled over cooked food in stored water, tulsi leaves prevent bacterial growth.