All About Tulsi

Botanical name: Ocimum sanctum (syn. O. tenuiflorum), O. gratissimum


Other Common Names: Holy Basil


Family: Lamiaceae (mint)


Parts Used: Leaves, flowers


Energetics: Warming, drying


Taste: Pungent, sweet


Preparations: tea, decoction, tincture, fresh juice, poultice, powder, infused into ghee or honey, made into pesto, used in sauces and as a garnish.


Actions: Adaptogenic, antiseptic, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-depressant, anxiolytic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, galactagogue, immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, anti-diabetic, anti-mutagenic, hypoglycemic, hypo-cholesteroemic, hepato-protective, neuro-protective, cardio-protective, anti-allergic, anti-catarrhal and radioprotective. 


Contraindications: Pregnancy and people taking insulin for diabetes.


Summer is the time when nature exposes its true colors and vibrancy and when long days show us that life can and will thrive to its fullest. It is a time when flowers come to show off their beauty and the heat invites us to become sensual in our skin. It is a time when the greens are greener, the blues bluer, and the myriad of colors show up to brighten our world. Summer is the time to savor the sweetness of many herbs and not least among them, is Tulsi or Holy Basil. 


It is with intent and great purpose that we have chosen Tulsi as your first ally in The Vital Box. Tulsi is so esteemed that it is considered to be the manifestation of Vishnu’s wife, Tulasi, who took the form of this herb when she came to earth.  Tulasi translates as “the incomparable one” from Sanskrit and for good reason. 


Tulsi embodies so many different medicinal properties that it is considered sacred in Indian tradition. Having been in cultivation for over 3,000 years, it remains a staple part of any Ayurvedic medical protocol, where it is considered a rasayanic herb. It is similarly classified as an adaptogen in western tradition. Tulsi is said to bring balance to the whole as it balances all the chakras, invokes feelings of compassion and love and brings calm to the body, bridging body and mind. In India, tulsi is planted outside homes and temples to purify and bless the surroundings.  Many Indians drink tulsi on a daily basis to increase compassion, sharpen awareness, and promote focus in meditation. Tulsi also smells incredible and tastes delicious so can be taken in a myriad of ways and even added to food just as you would add any other aromatic herbs like basil or cilantro. Tulsi is used as a remedy for so many ailments and imbalances and its list of accolades makes it a virtual cure-all. 


As an adaptogen, Tulsi is wonderful for anxiety and depression as it uplifts whilst at the same time is incredibly calming and centering and has a positive effect on the nervous system. This dualistic nature also means that tulsi will meet you where you are and this dynamism that is created really highlights how the innate intelligence of herbs and plants means that they can act according to each person’s needs in a unique way. Tulsi will sense what you need and will balance you through life’s ups and downs.


Tulsi is a wonderful remedy for memory and the mind and a go-to for increasing concentration, studying and helping to focus and quell scattered and erratic thoughts aka monkey brain. 


As an antibacterial and antiviral, it is helpful for colds and can be effective in addressing hay fever and allergic asthma as well. Tulsi is also considered an immunomodulator, meaning that while it has strong antibiotic effects, its overall influence is one of helping our immune system to find its perfect balance, a quality that is particularly important for those who have autoimmune conditions or hypersensitive systems. 


Tulsi is considered an anti-catarrhal, meaning it helps to ease coughing and has traditionally been employed to expel excess mucus in the lungs. It is a wonderfully soothing remedy for digestion as well and can help relieve gas, indigestion, heartburn and bloating. 


In clinical trials, Tulsi has been shown to lower cholesterol, blood sugar levels and even help prevent the mutation of cells. It is also a powerful nervine. Tulsi is a tonic is the truest sense of the word. It is most effective when taken over a period of time and can work wonders for your long term health when taken regularly.