Many Hindu homes contain a holy basil plant, also known as tulsi. It is believed to protect against misfortune and represents purity, harmony, serenity and luck.
The essential oil from holy basil contains a compound called eugenol which has antiseptic activity. It can kill germs such as bacteria, reduce inflammation and deter insects.
Ayurvedic literature says that holy basil is an effective treatment for snake bites. It is also used to treat many skin conditions as well as coughs, bronchitis and diabetes. It is can be taken as a drink with lemon juice or cardamom.
Because of the spiritual significance of holy basil, its roots have been used to carve Hindu rosary beads.