Holy Basil, or the Tulsi plant is native to India and grows wild in Asia and Malaysia. It is a sacred herb in the Hindu religion and is commonly grown in earthen pots in Hindu homes and gardens. Holy Basil is known by many names that clue us to the soul nature of this plant. The Latin name of one variety - Ocimum sanctum, means “the incomparable one” or “sacred fragrant lipped basil”. It is also referred to as the “Queen of Herbs”, “Mother Medicine of Nature” and the “The Elixir of Life.”
The Mother Medicine of Nature has been used in India for thousands of years as a principle herb of Ayurveda – the oldest known holistic health system and is still widely practiced today. Ayurveda means “knowledge of life” and this ancient medical science has promoted the physical, mental and spiritual health-promoting properties of the Tulsi plant for over 5000 years. Holy Basil is mentioned in the Charak Samhita (the central teaching of ayurvedic medicine) which was written at least two thousand years ago.
Holy Basil is used in ayurvedic medicine to treat common colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria. It is considered an excellent adaptogen, which means that it helps the body adapt to stresses, restore balance, and normalize functions. Ayurveda classifies Holy Basil as a “Rasyana”: an herb that nourishes a person's growth to perfect health and promotes long life.
Current research around the world is studying the many beneficial properties of Holy Basil and providing strong evidence of its effectiveness for health and wellness applications. Holy Basil “has been found effective for cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, stress, wound healing, the immune system, inflammations, liver support and protection, hypoglycemic conditions, ulcers, digestion, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, radiation poisoning, cataracts, the memory, respiratory system, urinary problems, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions, and it is an antioxidant.” - Mountain Rose Herbs
An article by Dr. Mercola, The Morning Drink that Can Slow Down Your Aging Process , lists these potential health benefits attributed to Tulsi:
.* Benefits backed up by scientific research.
There are many species of Ocimum (Basil). However, only three distinct varieties of tea basils are commonly used: Krishna, Rama and Vana Tulsi.
Krishna – Ocimum tenuiflorum has a purple-tinge to its leaves. The Krishna variety makes a delicious tea and is the most potent, being tested highest in concentrations of adaptogenic triterpenoic compounds.
Vana – Ocimum gratissimum is the original wild bush basil that is very high in eugenol and a great adaptogen. It’s natural habitat ranges throughout India and across North Africa and down into East Africa.
Rama – Ocimum sanctum is the short, annual, heavily flowered plant that was originally introduced to the U.S. as "Holy Basil". It is the most common type found in cultivation in the U.S.
Parts of the plant used - The leaf is generally the only part used in a medicinal capacity.
Herbal preparations - Herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf, or mixed with ghee. (Amma says to eat one leaf daily.)
Precautions – Tulsi may have an anti-fertility effect so it is not recommended for use if pregnant, nursing, or are considering becoming pregnant. Do not administer to infants or toddlers. May lower blood sugar, so consult a doctor if hypoglycemic (in separate studies, it has also been shown to be beneficial for those with hypoglycemia). Mild blood thinning properties.
**For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.**
You can purchase Vana Tulsi (Ocimum gratissimum) organically grown seeds from Mountain Rose Herbs and grow your own Holy Basil for a fresh supply year-round. This is the original wild type that is very high in eugenol; antifungal, antibacterial and immune enhancing. Horizon Herbs provides the following cultivation information for Vana Tulsi: “The plant is handsome, highly aromatic, and grows well in pots. If you live in frost-free zones, this will make a perennial bush to 4 feet. If you live in the temperate north, grow as an annual or bring indoors for the winter. Plant prefers full sun and will survive roadside conditions although regular watering and softer soils are certainly appreciated.”
In addition to Horizon Herb’s general cultivation advice, I also incorporate the gardening wisdom detailed by Anastasia (via Vladimir Megre) in Book 1 of the Ringing Cedars of Russia Series. (Info is listed in Resources) In this first book, Anastasia explains how to instill within the seeds before planting them, the encoded information of your own DNA and bioessence. This helps the plants to “…sustain Man’s life. More powerfully and effectively than any manufactured drugs of the present or future, these fruits are capable of counteracting and withstanding any disease of the human body. But to this end the seed much know about the human condition. So that during the maturation process it can satiate its fruit with the right correlation of substances to heal a specific individual of his disease, if indeed he has it or is prone to it.” pg 77, Anastasia by Vladimer Megre
It would take more space than the scope of this article allows to describe this process. I’ll be writing a separate article detailing how and why you may want to incorporate this wisdom into your own gardening practice at a later date. Meanwhile, you can read Book 1 of the series yourself if you are so inclined.
I see this process described by Anastasia as a way of establishing the “I-Thou relationship” between yourself and the Tulsi plants you are growing – connecting soul-to-soul with your healing herbs. The I-Thou relationship is beautifully explained in an article written by Dr. Bruce Berkowsky, Essential Oils and Faith, Maternal Love, I-Thou Relation and Creating Angels.
[Martin] Buber’s philosophy of dialogue elaborates the concept that only when an individual’s “I” (the aspect of one’s soul which is singular and eternal) acknowledges and cares for the “I” of another during interactions, is the encounter infused with spirit and full presence of being. Accordingly, one’s “I” recognizes another’s as “Thou.&rdquo' - Dr. Bruce Berkowsky
This soul-level relationship between you and the plants is nurtured and strengthened as the seeds sprout, grow and mature. And the plants respond in kind. My article, Essential Oils - Our BioSpiritual Allies, speaks to this level of relationship with plants from another perspective, yet the two are one and the same.
Although you can achieve very beneficial results by simply consuming organically grown Holy Basil, even if you don’t grow it yourself, or grow it using only the general cultivation methods such as given by Horizon Herbs, establishing an I-Thou relationship with your garden inhabitants adds another deeper soul-level of healing benefit. Again, I’ll write more on this topic in a later article.
If you want to grow your own Holy Basil but don’t want to or can’t start from seeds this year, Horizon Herbs offers all three types of Tulsi for purchase as seedlings - Tulsi Triad (one plant each of Krishna, Rama and Vana) Horizon Herbs says: “There are many cultivars, but these three are among the best. All give forth the familiar clove fragrance of good tulsi. But they do not all perform the same in cultivation. Krishna requires bright sun and very warm conditions. It will be perennial if kept very warm and in bright light. Rama is the short, annual, heavily flowered plant and is the easiest to grow. Big attractor of bees. Vana is the perennial bush basil with the large, tomentose leaves. This type is found in the wild throughout India and North and East Africa. If protected from frost, it will perennialize. Upon receipt, remove the plants from their packing and give them a warm and partly sunny position and water them. After they've had a bit of a rest (maybe 3 days) repot them to gallons, using organic potting soil, or transplant to the garden in full sun. Generally these do pretty well in regular garden conditions, but indoor cultivation can easily be too cold or too dark for these sun-loving plants. If you want to grow them indoors, use a greenhouse or a full spectrum grow light.”
While your Tulsi plants are maturing, or if you choose not to grow your own herb plants, I know of two excellent sources for either buying bulk Tulsi or packaged Tulsi tea.
Mountain Rose Herbs - sells bulk Rama Tulsi very reasonably priced. This is where I source most of my bulk herbs and essential oils that I don’t grow myself. This company is fantastic!
Mercola.com - sells many organic Tulsi teas, variously flavored, and produced by Organic India. My personal favorite is Sweet Rose Tulsi. I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Mercola and highly recommend subscribing to his free newsletter as well.
By which ever means you choose to bring this herb into your life and add it to your regular diet, you will benefit by it.
Mountain Rose Herbs - Holy Basil Herb Profile
Horizon Herbs - Tulsi Profile
The Morning Drink that Can Slow Down Your Aging Process,By Dr. Mercola
Essential Oils and Faith, Maternal Love, I-Thou Relation and Creating Angelsby Dr. Bruce Berkowsky.
BioSpiritual Healing Blog > Holy Basil - Mother Medicine of Nature