Herbs to Know- Tulsi or Holy Basil
These Healing Herb monographs are based on my experience and my research. Some are my common 'weed' herbs, and others are 'imported' herbs from Europe, Asia, etc, that are starting to pop up in more places like medicinal boxed teas and specialty supplements, so it's worth getting to know them.
In the introduction to David Winston's Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief, he describes this class of plants simply: "...[they] help the human body adapt to stress, support normal metabolic processes, and restore balance." This is strong medicine.
Tulsi, or Holy Basil (so much fun to say! Holy Basil, Batman!) is an adaptogenic herb that is becoming more familiar to us Westerners, and is an important part of Ayurvedic medicine. It is closely related to the basils more familiar to us, including popular Italian Basil, and newly popular Thai Basil.
Adaptogens help your body adapt to stress, and by definition are non-specific. This means that Tulsi doesn’t just
Traditionally, people keep a Holy Basil plant outside their front door, and chew a leaf every time they pass. This practice qualifies as “food medicine,” and would give you a frequent, tonic-level dose of constant care. Tulsi powder could be added to your food as well, in smoothies or nut-butter herb balls or anywhere else a little powder could be tucked in, like butter or ghee- use your imagination!
How to Take Your Holy Basil:
Good quality Tulsi is available online, say from Herbiary in Philadelphia, and it’s easy to grow your own- it will be an annual, unless you live in a very tropical clime. I have found good seeds at Herbiary, and actually got some seedlings from my CSA this summer.
My sources for Tulsi information were: classroom lectures and discussions with Lynn Roberts (Ayurveda practitioner), The Ayurveda Encyclopedia by Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha, Herbal Therapy and Supplements by Winston and Kuhn, Adaptogens by Winston, and HorizonHerbs.com.
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