It's starting to be that time of year where the plants feel like they are jumping out of the ground...in Virginia my world is LUSH with plants and happiness. I feel at my best right before spring turns to summer...it's like the whole world bustles with the energy of getting out on the trail, rushing around planning summer schedules, harvesting the abundance of all of the good spring herbs, kids getting out of school, things to do, things to do...I've been feeling it too.
Aha, but then things go really off kilter when I neglect to carve out my sacred space time, not organizing my day, doing one too many things and feeling that my patience has been stretched from all the above. I've lost my shoes 3 times this week... anyone in the same boat?!
When this happens, I automatically reach for one of my saving grace herbs: Holy Basil or Tulsi. The botanical name for Tulsi is Ocimum Sanctum or Gratissimum. Just typing that name, “Sanctum” or “Gratissimum” makes the peace that I've been craving start to wash over me.
History: A lil history about Tulsi came to our world through the Indian healing tradition of Ayurveda, and in herbalism it is considered one of the all powerful Wizard of Oz Adaptogens. I know “Adaptogens” is a “thing” right now in the health community and I'm really pumped that it is.
David Winston, one of my favorite herbalists and medicine men, writes in his book on Adaptogens:
Adaptogens are remarkable natural substances that help the body adapt to stress, support normal metabolic functions, and help restore balance. They INCREASE the body's resistance to physical, biological, emotional and environmental stressors and provide a defense response to acute or chronic stress.
Sounds too good to be true right? Adaptogens are truly a powerful class of herbs that often have multiple functions. Although adaptogens aren’t necessarily a one size fits all situation, adding an adaptogen or two to your daily health ritual can really create a pathway for your body to heal and maintain health. Working with Tulsi and other adaptogens definitely saved my patootie when I was in full adrenal fatigue about 10 years ago and it helped me find my path into herbalism.
Goodbye Stress & More Tulsi Love: Tulsi is more than just a super-powered stress reliever, it has antibacterial, antidepressant, antioxidant and antiviral properties, as well as serves as an powerful carminative (relieves gas), diuretic, expectorant and effective immunomodulator.
Holy Basil is such a nourishing herb: it supports longevity, cardiovascular circulatory health, pain relief, digestive issues, and respiratory strength. This seemingly magical herb can be extremely neuro-protective when combined with other herbs, it helps with menopausal cloudy thinking, heals and supports gastric ulcers, and is good for daily use to strengthen the immune system.
One of my personal favorite uses of this herb is to curb my 3pm I wanna-cookie-or-a-latte sugar craving!
On a spiritual level, Tulsi helps me think outside of the box to reach out for my deepest desires and holding strong to the foundations I've built. She also adds a giggly gentleness to my spirit, to take life less seriously and surrender to allowing myself to be more childlike.
In the Garden: If you are so lucky to have a Holy Basil plant or two in your yard (in my climate they self seed), it can be harvested a few times each summer by cutting the top ⅓ of the plant and drying a bundle or two.
In the Kitchen: Since it is in the basil family, fresh Holy Basil can be added to any culinary creations as a flavoring and a nutritional boost. I particularly like adding Tulsi to my Asian-inspired dishes!
More Ways to Use Tulsi/Holy Basil:
A Simple Nourishing Infusion for Maximum Health Benefits:
3 tablespoons of dried Tulsi Basil
1.5 cups boiling water
Add the water and basil to a quart jar and let sit, covered, for at least 20 minutes or up to 4 hours. Strain out the herbs and sip on this tea infusion daily for herbal benefits.
One of the first teas I made for my clients - and still one of my favorites - is Tulsi with Calendula Flowers, Milky Oats and Anise Hyssop - we call it our “Deep Ahh Tea”.
We also have our stress relieving Last Nerve Tonic which has a beautiful base of Tulsi along with a few other of my favorite stress relieving slash heart centered herbal products.
A special FYI on contraindications with the use of Tulsi: It is important to note the contraindications of an herb before incorporating it into your herbal medicine cabinet. Tulsi may have an antifertility effect on both men and women, so do not take it if you’re thinking about having babies -there are other herbs to help for that!. Tulsi should also not be taken when pregnant or breastfeeding. It has slight blood thinning properties, so it should not be taken in combination with blood thinning medications. If you have diabetes, Tulsi may affect your insulin, so be sure to consult your doctor before taking Tulsi.
Getting on board with an adaptogen like Holy Basil or Tulsi has so many long term health benefits. I encourage you to explore how to incorporate this powerful and very accessible adaptogen into your life.
Colleen O’Bryant is a trained herbalist and not a licensed doctor or registered healthcare practitioner. She cannot and does not claim to diagnose health conditions, nor prescribe medicines. Colleen O’Bryant does not claim that the information and products she provides to Client will prevent, alleviate, or cure any diseases or medical conditions. The information and products Colleen and Wild Roots Apothecary provides is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal products, particularly if you have a known medical condition, allergy or if you are pregnant or nursing. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises. Wild Roots Apothecary statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA and they are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Client understands that Colleen is not yet certified by the American Herbalists Guild, but by working with clients such as yourself she is gaining the required hours of practice to apply towards her certification.
Wild Roots Apothecary does not claim to be a pharmacy or prescribe medicines. Additionally, Wild Roots does not claim to be able to cure or relieve the client's specific condition or illness with the herbal formulations or recommendations provided.