Tulsi: How Do I Love Thee?

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Let me count the ways.

Botannical name: Ocimum sanctum

Family: Lamiaceae

Common names: Holy Basil, Tulasi or Thulasi, St. Josephwort, Krishna tulsi, Vana tulsi, Rama tulsi, Queen of Herbs; Sanskrit "matchless one"

Parts used: Whole plant, including seeds

Properties: Alterative, Analgesic, Antibacterial, Antidepressant, Antifungal, Antiviral, Antimicrobial, Anxiolytic, Cardiotonic, Carminative, Demulcent, Diaphoretic, Expectorant, Immunomodulator, Nervine, Radioprotective.

Dosage: Infusion (tea); medicated ghee; powder 250mg-1 gram

It is impossible to talk about Tulsi without mentioning the importance of this plant to Hinduism, where Ociumum sanctum is worshipped as a manifestation of the goddess Tulsi. In India, Tulsi is a household plant, often grown in a sacred space or alter dedicated to this purpose. It is believed to sanctify and purify the air and space in which it grows.

At Eleos Herbals, I worship the Creator of all plants, and give thanks for the benefits each plant brings to the bodies and minds of those who use it.

1. Here at Eleos Herbals, Tulsi has primarily been utilized during cold and flu season for both its ability to stimulate the immune system and for its affinity to the upper respiratory tract, where it reduces mucous in the lungs and nasal passages. Like many plants in the mint family, Tulsi is a diaphoretic, and its ability to induce sweating is a fine tool for drawing out fever. Tulsi is also antimicrobial. These properties are the reason I chose it to star in my Cold Day Tea formula.

If you never did anything else with Tulsi, you could live a perfectly good and happy life. I would always wonder, though, if your life could have been better and happier. I can't carry that weight on my shoulders, people. I just can't, so stick with me here.

2. Tulsi is a warming digestive aid, useful for indigestion from overeating. Ayurvedic medicine considers the gentle nature of Tulsi to be tridoshic, meaning it is appropriate for all doshas (mind-body types)(1).

3. Tulsi has been researched extensively and found to normalize both blood sugars and fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides(2)(3). Additionally, a placebo-controlled study demonstrated a 17.6% reduction in blood sugar (4).

4. Tulsi prevents cancer of the mouth (5).

5. Tusli protects against radiation exposure(6).

6. Tulsi aids those suffering from asthma(7).

7. Tulsi heals ulcers(8).

8. Tulsi is a calming adaptogen, by way of its anti-inflammatory nature and high flavonoid value. Tulsi is very calming to the nervous system, as it helps regulate cortisol and normalize the size of the adrenal glands(9) in bodies that have dealt with chronic stress.

9. Tulsi is a daily tonic, taken to increase endurance and vitality without caffeine or stimulants. Herbalist David Winston, author of "Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief" uses Tulsi in response to poor memory, ADD, and ADHD. He states that it can be beneficial for long-term depression, PTSD, and chronic stress. Because it increases circulation, it can aid detoxification of toxins stored in body fat. Likewise, it also benefits the cardiovascular system.

Now you know, and I can rest easy. If you have questions on how to best utilize Tulsi for your benefit, please don't hesitate to contact me at karen@eleosherbals.com. If you'd like to order yourself some Cold Day Tea, you can do that here.

1. Tierra, Michael and Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa. The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs. Lotus Press, 2008.

2. Sarkar A, Lavania SC, Pandey DN, Pant MC Changes in the blood lipid profile after administration of Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi) leaves it the normal albino rabbits. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 1994 Oct;38(4):311:2

3. Rai V, Iyer U, Mani UV Effect of Tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) leaf powder supplementation on blood sugar leverls, serum lipids and tissue lipids in diabetic rats. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 1997;50(1):9-16

4. Agrawal P, Rai V, Singh RB Randomized placebo-controlled, single blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 1996 Sept;34(9):406-9

5. Uma Devi P, Ganasoundari A, Rao BS, Srinivasan KK In vivo radioprotection by ocimum flavonoids: survival of mice. Radiat Res 1999 Jan;151(1):74-8

6. Devi PU, Bisht KS, Vinitha M A comparative study of radioprotection by Ocimum flavonoids and synthetic aminothiol protectors in the mouse. Br J Radiol 1998 Jul;71(847):782-4

7. Phadke SA, Kulkarni SD Screening of in vitro antibacterial activity of Termainalia chebula, Eclapta alba and Ocimum sanctum. India J Med Sci 1989 May;43(5):113-7

8. Mandal S, Das DN, De K, Ray K, Roy G, Chaundhuri SB, Sahana CC, Chowdhuri MK Ocimum sanctum Linn--a study on gastric ulceration and gastric secretion in rats. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 1993 Jan;37(1):91-2

9. Khalsa, Karta Purkh Singh. "Healthy Winter Teas," www.kpkhalsa.com. Nov 2014

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