Updated: Jul 3
Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum; tulasi, holy basil, Indian basil, or king's basil) is a strong medicinal plant widely used in Ayurveda. My curiosity and fascination for the Tulsi plant started when my friend, teacher, and Jyotish counselor, Arjun Das, included tulsi essential oil in a personal perfume synergy designed for my constitution through his readings of my birth chart. Since then, I have included various Tulsi products in my apothecary and have been cultivating, studying, and adding the plant to my practice. This article is a collection of information to introduce my community to this beautiful plant and an effort to answer some recently received questions from clients and through my social network. I hope this will bring some light to the subject.
The healing qualities of Tulsi
Tulsi is considered an adaptogen, balancing different processes in the body and supporting resilience to stress. It can be taken as an herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf and is also available in the form of tincture and essential oil. Some benefits of Tulsi:
A sattvic herb considered a rasayana (rejuvenating), Tulsi is nourishing to the adrenals and may play a role in reducing stress and anxiety.
It promotes a healthy response for mental, emotional, and physical exertion. Relaxing and reassuring, tulsi clears the mind in preparation for meditation. The regular intake of tulsi tea promotes clear thinking, and the herb is sometimes referred to as "liquid yoga."
Strengthening to the respiratory system, Tulsi is recommended in cases of respiratory tract infections, reducing breathing difficulties, and facilitating expectoration in cough.
Cleansing, it helps to reduce Kapha throughout the body and mind.
Used in skin preparations because of its antibacterial activity.
Studies show that tulsi can be useful in regulating blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Tulsi offers protection against radiation poisoning.
Adaptogenic, antimicrobial, immuno-modulator.
Cardio-tonic and blood purifier, tulsi improves circulation and has a protective action to the liver.
Useful in fever with chills and intermittent fevers as it aids rasa and rakta dhatu. Tulsi roots have been used as diaphoretic in malarial fevers.
Different parts of the plant can treat various conditions according to traditional knowledge, but the plant has not been widely studied by the modern scientific world.
Tulsi tea preparation and some suggested herbal synergies
To prepare Tulsi tea, you can use one teaspoon of dried tulsi leaves in a cup of boiling water and let it infuse for 3-5 min. You can also combine tulsi with other herbs to obtain specific synergistic outcomes and varied flavors. Here are some suggestions:
Tulsi & ginger can be combined to clear sinuses and boost the immune system;
Black or green tea can be combined with Tulsi to replace your morning coffee (I have personally found Tulsi tea to be very useful in supporting to cope with caffeine withdraw during ayurvedic cleanses);
Tulsi with lemon & raw honey is supportive for digestion and deep hydration;
Infuse mint & tulsi leaves in a jar of water placed in the sunlight for a few hours, then drink as a refreshing beverage;
Tulsi, Gotu kola & honey will support stress management and favor your yoga and meditation practice;
Tulsi & chamomile can be combined to calm the nerves and prepare for restful sleep.
Can Tulsi be supportive in times of Covid-19?
Tulsi is effective in removing mucous and viruses from the lungs, improving the capacity and efficiency of respiration, also reducing fever by encouraging sweating. It may, therefore, be useful for prevention and recovery from some of the Covid-19 symptoms.
Along with ginger, turmeric, sitopaladi, chyawanprash, and other herbs or ayurvedic compounds, your kitchen's pharmacy can play a significant role in maintaining your wellness and preparing your immune system for optimal response to external factors. With a proper diet, exercise routine, and regular sleeping schedule, our bodies should face the challenges of this particular context.
Some of my clients and friends have been asking which plant or product can be the best solution for preventing to get ill during this coronavirus epidemic. There is no quick-fix or magic solution! From an ayurvedic perspective, the response to this pandemic is to dive back into dharma (proper ethic actions) and sadhana, protecting our immunity, building resilience, focusing on caring for our relationships with Nature and others, healing unresolved emotions and dedicating time to self-care while engaging in a deep connection with our highest purpose. I believe that this crisis is an ultimate opportunity to rethink and redesign our society, correcting what is outdated and restoring our environment and relationship to the soil. It takes awareness and dedicated work. Exploring the Vedic concept of Prithvi Prema Seva, which translates as expressing our love for the planet through conscious activity, may be very insightful at this particular time.
Planting and caring for a Tulsi plant
"The Indian mythological book Padmottara Purana asserts that a house where a garden of Tulsi exists is itself a center of pilgrimage; neither servants of Yama (The lord of death) nor disease can enter there, and wherever fragrance of Tulsi goes, the air gets purified."
When a Tulsi plant grows at a place, it is considered a blessing. Tulsi's is a perennial plant in which natural habitat is tropical and subtropical Asia (India, China, Thailand).
The following videos show how to identify different varieties of Tulsi, cultivate it, and how to prune a Tulsi plant for a bushy and robust growth.
To obtain Tulsi seeds, my best resource is Strictly Medicinal Seeds
About the Hindu rituals and prayers for Tulsi
Cultivated for healing and sacred purposes, Tulsi is used extensively in religious ceremonies and revered as a goddess (Devi). It can be found in nearly every temple in India and believed to protect any home where it grows. In Hinduism tradition, devotees perform worship involving holy basil plants or leaves in close relation with goddess Lakshmi (green variation) and gods Vishnu and Krishna (purple variety). Tulsi is considered to improve the vastu (vedic science of architecture) quality of a place by removing the faults and correcting the spacial geometry of a home.
"Tulsi is auspicious in all respects. Simply by seeing, simply by touching, simply by remembering, simply by praying to, simply by bowing before, simply by hearing about or simply by sowing this tree, there is always auspiciousness. Anyone who comes in touch with the tulsi plant in the ways mentioned above lives eternally in the Vaikuntha world."
The following video illustrates this tradition:
For further information, you can also read the article Tulsi: Getting to Know Your Herbal Allies from Banyan Botanicals, and The science behind sacredness of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) by Shankar Mondal, Bijay r. Mirdha and Sushil C. Mahapatra.
For those wishing to learn more about the connections between plants, planets, and individual constitutions, I highly recommend the courses, coaching programs, and Jyotish readings with Arjun Das.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is not medical advice!
The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for your physician's advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or to prescribe any treatment to others. Speak with your physician or other healthcare professionals before taking any herbal supplements or adopting any treatment. If you have or suspect to have a medical problem, contact your Doctor. Do not disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice. Information and statements in this post were not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are looking for medical advice that encompasses an Ayurvedic approach to health and wellness, I highly recommend visiting and consulting Dr. Natalie Geary at Veda Health.
At Hridayam, we offer a variety of tools for stress management, self-awareness, and education. We welcome our community to practice meditation, yoga Nidra, and bodywork with us, also providing access to curated information, wellness coaching programs, and an apothecary with selected products to support your wellness.
Carol Jamault is a Certified Health & Life Coach, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Registered Yoga Instructor (RYT-200) with a solid background in design and branding. She supports her clients in stress management and self-care through an integrative approach to wellness by providing bodywork services, consultations, and curated information and products to restore balance, improve individual wellness, and boost vitality. Carol has been studying alternative healing, ethnobotany, circadian medicine, and Ayurveda since 2001. She is the founder of Hridayam Bodywork & Apothecary. Click here to schedule classes, consultations & bodywork.