There truly is a reason why another name for Tulsi is “Holy Basil.” In Hinduism and in the Ayurvedic medicine tradition, Tulsi is revered as a sacred, holy plant and even considered by some to be “The Queen of the Herbs.” Tulsi is considered so sacred in fact, that it is seen as an earthly manifestation of the goddess Lakshmi, imbuing the plant with spiritual properties. Used in India for around 5000 years as a holy plant for ceremonial reasons, this plant offers many sacred daily benefits that we here at Dynamic Roots are feeling rejuvenated by as we transition to spring!
(Pictured at left: Heather helping harvest fresh Tulsi leaves and blossoms from Kate’s Boulder herb garden in Summer 2016.)
On the physical level, Tulsi carries a whole plethora of medicinal properties. Tulsi leaves have long been favored taken as a tea, but can also be juiced fresh or tinctured (extracted in alcohol). It claims to have strong antioxidant and purifying properties that can increase skin glow and has been shown to stop the progression of both breast and oral cancer. High in lutein and vitamin A, it has been used to help with night blindness and sore eyes. Tulsi serves as an invigorating, nerve strengthening tonic that can also help improve memory, bring down acute fevers and relieve mucous-heavy coughs. Tulsi leaves have been juiced fresh for stress relief, chewed for oral health and poulticed for bug bites and stings.
One of our favorite ways to use Tulsi is as an “adaptogen.” In herbal medicine, an adaptogen is a substance that balances different processes in the body to better support a healthy stress response. It basically helps bring things back into balance when we can otherwise be off kilter. In this sense, Tulsi can literally help the body “adapt” to physical, emotional, and environmental stressors. That being said, adaptogens are not substitutes for healthy lifestyle practices such as good sleep habits, exercise, and diet. We find that making a cup of Tulsi tea helps support us in creating daily rituals based on self-care and nourishment, and provides a delicious and aromatic reminder to be present in each and every moment.
A daily practice performed in Hindu tradition, is offering a “Tulsi Puja.” A Tulsi plant is grown in the house to keep the energy pure. Every morning, a prayer will be said in front of the Tulsi plant through water, smudging, sounds, and burning incense. If you connect with Tulsi on a spiritual or medicinal level, try growing and caring for a Tulsi plant in your home or garden. Since Tulsi typically thrives in a humid climate, we were pleasantly surprised by how much Tulsi proliferated in our Colorado gardens this year! Makes us wonder what else could thrive in the garden when we nurture and care for plants from a deeper, spiritual place of reverence...
(Pictured Here: Tulsi has a bushy growing habit and highly fragrant purple blossoms for bees and pollinators of all kinds.)
Where can you find Tulsi Holy Basil in Dynamic Roots products? Currently, we offer Tulsi in our deliciously energizing Tulsi-Maté Tea and our temple-soothing Happy Head Tea (coming very soon to our online store!). We appreciate its earthy, centered and heart-warming feel. Thank you sweet Tulsi… we honor and cherish you, and look forward to growing with you again this spring!
Tulsi grows much like its sister Basil (Sweet, Genovese, Cinnamon, and other varieties). Start your Tulsi seeds inside or pick up a start to plant in your gardens after your area’s last frost date has safely passed. Tulsi likes to grow in an area where it gets a little protection from the afternoon sun. For instance, under the cover of taller plants such as sunflowers and larger shrubby herbs. Mulching around the base of the plant with leaves or straw can help provide a little extra protection and keep the roots moist. As Tulsi grows, it’s best to clip off blossoms at the node, to encourage a bushier plant. Try growing Tulsi with a guild of other plants including Garden Sage, California Poppy, & Hollyhock.
(See Image: Started from seed, this tender annual Ayurvedic herb does well planted around the same time as warm weather vegetables such as tomatoes & cucumbers.)
(A happy Tulsi plant in Kate’s 2016 garden)
Loose Leaf Tea: Tulsi Mate & Herbs for the Heart