Latin name: Ocimum Sanctum
English name: Holy Basil
Ayurvedic names: Tulsi (The incomparable one); Vishnupriya (The beloved one of Vishnu); Surasa.
Part used: Though the seeds and root are used, the leaves are the main therapeutic part of the plant.
Energy: pungent, sweet with pungent post-digestive effect (vipaka). Decreases Vata and Kapha. In excess increases Pitta.
Next to the Lotus, Tulsi is the most sacred plant of India. This plant is considered to be a Goddess herself serving humanity daily by her presence here. Her quality is pure sattva (righteousness). Holy basil opens the heart and mind, awaking love and devotion (bhakti); strengthens faith, compassion and clarity. A plant of Tulsi in the house purifies the air by liberating ozone from the sun’s rays.
– Respiratory diseases (cold, flu). Pure tulsi tea will make you sweat. You can steep ¼ teaspoon each of tulsi, dry ginger and ½ of cinnamon for 1 cup of hot water. Take 2-3 times a day.
– Cough with mucus (Kapha type cough). Use tulsi juice with honey.
– Indigestion from overeating. As a mild digestive aid tulsi treats all three doshas strengthening agni (digestive fire) which proper function is the core of health.
– Intestinal parasites.
– Diarrhea. Rice pudding prepared with soaked tulsi seeds is used to treat diarrhea.
– Fever. Tulsi’s special action (prabhava in Sanskrit) is to bring down old, deep, periodic fever often of unknown genesis. In that case it is sometimes used with black pepper.
– Heart. Combined with Arjuna Tulsi makes an excellent general heart tonic.
– Antioxidant. Due to high content of flavonoid tulsi works as an antioxidant.
– Fungal infection on the skin. Use fresh juice.
– For clarity of mind. Take as tea with honey.
– Ear infection. Tulsi essential oil is inserted into the ear.
– Nausea and vomiting. Use equal amount of fresh basil juice and honey. Take 1 teaspoon twice a day.
Meditative and energetic usage.
– Tulsi stems are worn as rosaries to promote the quality of attachment.
– Tulsi clears the aura and strengthens the immune system.
– Tulsi gives the power of pure awareness.
– Grey hair. This Pitta condition is successfully treated using tulsi oils as scalp applications and nasya; or drinking tulsi tea.
– Cleansing powder. Along with other herbs dried powdered tulsi can be used mixed with chickpea flour or clay and water as daily skin cleanser.
– Scrubs. Mix tulsi powder with aloe vera juice, milk or cream.
– Lotion for dry skin. Use sesame or avocado oil enriched with tulsi.
How to take Tulsi:
Tea. Traditionally Tulsi is given as a tea. Start with three teaspoons of dry herb brewed into water per day. Gradually increase the amount of tea until you get the results you are looking for. Stop taking if some digestive stress occurs. When digestion returns to normal, resume with lesser amount.
Fresh juice. Take ½ ounce three times a day.
Medicated Oil or Ghee. It can be made by cooking tulsi leaf in sesame or mustard oil or Ghee (see Ghee recipe).
TODAY’S TIP: The basil we have here in North America has somewhat similar properties but is less potent. In comparison to it Indian Tulsi has a bitter taste, is much more pungent and has larger leaves. In India, there are three different sorts of this plant, some of them can be as tall as a tree (about 6 feet high).