‘Bhustrena’ in Sanskrit is also referred to by more common names like Vilati Tulsi (Vilaiti meansForeign), Van tulasi, Jungli tulsi, Sirna tulasi, Darp tulasi, Ganga tulsi in different parts of India. Tulsi is considered pious and worshipped in India since time immortal. It is also offered to Gods and is a blessing for human on earth. More common forms of Tulsi found in India and used in every household include ‘Holy Basil’ or Ocimum tenuiflorum or sanctum and ‘Barbari tulsi’ or Ocimum basilicum Linn. . These should not be confused with Bhustrena/ Vilati Tulsi which a different herb altogether and mostly found in wild lands. Scientifically named as Hyptis Suaveolens, it is also called by the names of American mint, pignut, wild spikenard, stinking Roger, horehound, bushmint or chan all over the world.
Bhustrena plant, when dried, releases seeds commonly known as Mahabeera seeds which carry immense healing properties as we discussed in another article.
Nomenclature / Other Names
Scientific Name: The name Hyptis Suaveolens derives its roots from the Greek word hupitos meaning ‘turned back’ referring to the lower lip position of the flowers of Bhustrena. Likewise, Suaveolens means ‘fragrant’.
- Vilati Tulsi- vilati meaning Foreign
- Jungli Tulsi- meaning from jungle
- Bilatti Tulas- meaning foreign in Bengali
- Natta Poochedi in Malyalam
- Bhustrena and Darp tulas in Marathi
- Sirna tulsi in Telugu
- Ganga Tulsi in Orissa
- Bhunsuri in Bihari
- American mint
- Wild spikenard
- Stinking Roger
- Bush Mint
- Tokma (Bangladesh)
- Hortela do campo (Spanish)
- Betônica-brava (Portuguese, Brazil)
- Hyptis à odeur (French)
About Bhustrna/ Jungli Tulsi Plant:
It is an erect annual or mostly perennial weed plant which grows to a height of 2.5meters or lesser. It is distributed majorly in Tropical America, Tropical and subtropical areas and grows at the height of 1600 mtrs or lesser. It is commonly seen in open forest areas, waste lands, river banks and along roadsides and rail-tracks. Flowering and seeding occurs all year long. It releases copious amounts of seeds (Mahabeera seeds) which are pollinated further by the help of human, water and animals/ insects. Flowers are pinkish, bluish-purple and lavender coloured which release nectar and pollens for agents like butterflies and bees which help in pollination. It reproduces both by seeds and also vegetatively. This leads to a prolific growth and extension of these plants in the forests almost like an invader. This plant is widespread in India and occasionally is being cultivated in Mexico.
Morphologically, at a single glance, it looks quite similar to Ocimum species of Tulsi but its leaves notably bear saw-like projections at its margins with lower surface being densely hairy to touch.
It is found that the crop of Pignut/ Jungli tulsi competes with the crops of wheat, finger millet and mung beans for survival and thus can inhibit growth of these crops.
When its seeds are immersed and left in some water, they swell to form a mucilaginous transparent (jelly-like) coating. It is consumed as a drink in itself or can be flavoured with other fruit juices.
Nutritional Profile Of Vilati Tulasi/ Pignut
- It is rich in iron, magnesium, copper, calcium, zinc.
- Rich in antioxidants.
- Rich in vitamin B1, B2, B3.
Benefits of Vilati Tulsi/ Pignut
Actions of Jungli tulsi include a wide array of beneficial properties as mentioned further.
Leaves of Bhustrena have been shown to contain two diterpenes by the names of Suaveolol and Methyl Suaveolate which show anti-inflammatory activity. This has shown a scope for its usefulness in skin diseases, diseases involving inflammation and treatment of fever.
Extracts of Ganga tulsi have shown anti-diabetic benefits which are partly attributed to the presence of terpenoids, tannins and flavonoids.
Wound Healing Powers
Triterpenoids and Flavonoids present in Jungli tulsi help in faster healing of wounds. They help by faster contraction at the wound site and starting epithelialisation at a faster rate.
Anti-microbial property includes anti-bacterial and anti-fungal actions of Jungli tulsi.
Active ingredients and phytochemicals of Bhustrena are found effective against fungi like Aspergillus Niger, Cryptococcus, Fursarium and Candida albicans.
Furthermore plant extracts have also shown great activity against E.Coli, Staph. Aureus, Klebsiella Pneumoniae, Proteus Mirabilis, Enterobacter, Salmonella Typhi A and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa.
10-15 leaves of Jungli tulsi can be rolled on palms and then squeezed to extract brownish fluid which acts as a natural hand-sanitizer.
Alcoholic extract of Vilaiti Tulsi/ pignut containing pentacyclic triterpenoids have shown inhibitory effect on Chikunguniya Virus of Asian strain. Further studies are on the way to establish anti-viral activity of Hyptis Suaveolens.
Presence of flavonoids and other beneficial anti-oxidants in the leaves of Jungle Tulsi are potent to exhibit free-radical scavenging in cells and hence delay aging. Even the oil extracted from Hyptis Suaveolens carries these anti-oxidant benefits.
Its extracts have been shown to prevent suppression of Humoral Immune Response, Cell mediated Immune Response and a rise in Lipid Peroxidase (LPO) enzyme levels thereby showing an immuno-modulatory action. It is majorly being attributed and related to the presence of rich anti-oxidants profile of Vilaiti Tulsi.
Terpenoids present in essential oil of Vilaiti Tulsi show anti-cancer activity on MCF-7 cell line (Human breast cancer cells).
Jungli tulsi has been used traditionally for treating Malaria in India. Lately studies have shown that an agent named Dehydroabietinol present in Jungli tulsi has a capability to inhibit growth of Plasmodium falciparum (both chloroquine- resistant and chloroquine -sensitive variety) inside RBCs.
Bhustrena is GI-friendly in nature and prevents formation of duodenal and gastric ulcers and also heals them which may be due to its wound-healing capability.
Helminths are parasites that attack humans to cause diseases. Extracts from Jungli Tulsi/ Vana Tulsi act as potent anti-helminthic agent.
Sirna Tulsi/ Bhustrena has been tested and found useful as a natural botanical insecticide for crops of maize and groundnut. This opens a gateway of possibilities and benefits of using naturally occurring botanicals as effective insecticides in such majorly consumed crops over artificial and more harmful insecticides.
Its seed oil is also found useful against insect bites and for repelling arthropodes.
Although some level of anti-fertility activity has been found in the extract from leaves of Bhustrena, further studies are being done to determine best time of gestation for its highest efficacy.
Some research have shown that extracts of Bhustrena / Darp Tulas exhibit anti-diarrhoeal activity at particular doses almost comparable to antimotility drugs like Loperamide. However, more studies are still undergoing to establish it.
Uses of Sirna Tulsi / Bhunsuri / Bhustrena:
Above beneficial actions make Vilaiti Tulsi or Hyptis Suaveolens, make it useful in following conditions:
- Healing of wounds, boils and abscesses
- Fever, Yellow fever
- Carminative- relieves flatulence
- Cold and cough treatment, acts as expectorant
- Veterinary poisoning
- Liver stimulant
- Anti-sudorific (anti-sweat)
- Lactagogue- increases breast milk production
- Catarrhal condition
- Parasitic skin infections
- Infections of Uterus
- Urethritis and urinary infections
- Helminthic infections
- Leaves are used to repel mosquitoes due to its strong aroma (suaveolens).
- Soup made with Vilaiti tulsi and corn is named ‘Bate’ in India acts as a memory booster.
- Leaf poultice is used on tumours and cancers in America
- Teas made from roots of Vilaiti tulsi in India help to purify blood and also treat women-related diseases.
- Sap of leaves mixed with lemon juice is use for stomach ache in Sierra Leone
- Leaf applied to head for headache
- Leaf applied on boils to help them mature and burst
- Acidity and Dyspepsia
- Menorrhagia- menstrual pain
- Flu treatment
- Insect repellent
- Epistaxis/ nose bleeding
- Stomach ache
- Its leaves are used to repel Redbug.
- Leaves are used to make aromatic teas.
- Its essential oil is also used as an adulterant of patchouli oil.
- Shoots from younger plant is used as flavouring in food.
Side Effects / Caution for using Bhunsuri
Those taking Jungli tulsi for anti-diabetic benefits should take it on expert’s advice and should monitor blood sugar levels from time to time so as to track if it dips too low. Usually people take Ayurvedic herbs alongside allopathic medications and so blood sugar levels may become too low by additive effect.
Since Jungli tulsi extracts have shown anti-fertility activity, it is not desirable to use it in pregnancy and should never be used when pregnant.
Iron content of Tulasi can stain teeth if leaves are chewed for long periods.