Many people are familiar with basil. It smells good – you add it many dishes as a flavorful seasoning in Italian dishes and those from the Southeast Asia area. However, what many people do not know is there are many kinds of basil. In fact, one – Holy Basil – isn’t even a “basil” at all! Take a look at the Sweet Basil in the photo gallery below ands the Tulsi. As you can in the pictures, there are definite similarities and differences in the these two plants.
Enter Tulsi. While it is in the same family as other basil, it is classified as its own plant (Ocimum tenuiflorum). Regular basil is classified as Ocimum basilicum. Both are aromatic and have been used medicinally. They share a similar taste but not exactly. Basil, in all its many forms, is readily used in cooking. It has many attributes, including being a carminative (relaxes smooth muscle, thereby soothing digestive organs). Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, has had more of a history of use as an herbal remedy.
It is regularly referred to as Holy Basil. Its originated in the area we now know as India. Holy Basil (or Tulsi) is believed to be a physical appearance of the wife of the god, Vishnu. Her name is, of course, Tulsi. Therefore you may find this plant growing in the court yards and terraces gardens of those of the Hindu faith. The goddess Lakshmi is also associated with this beneficial plant. This then would indicate Tulsi – sometimes spelled Tulasi – helps to bring good fortune and protection to the households where it grows. There is a darker, more purple p[lant most offten associated with Vishnu and the lighter, more often associated with Tulsi and/or Lakshmi. Regular basils are not held in this regard. .
But why use it?
Holy Basil has been used throughout the centuries in Ayurveda. Ayurveda, as I have stated in earlier posts, is the Asian subcontinent’s traditional healing system. It is a complex system contributed to by many, MANY thousands of years of practitioners and their experiences. For our purposes, I’ll keep it simple by just stating the general uses for this plant.
Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen. An Adaptogen is something which aids the body in coping and dealing with stresses: mental, emotional and physical. It is full of immuno-modulating phytochemicals. These may aid in increasing vitality and energy. When it is combines with other herbs used in the Ayurvedic healing system, Tulsi has a balancing effect and may add an overall nourishing quality. It contains a chemical constituent called Ocimumosides A and B. These compounds reduce stress and balance the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
The high antioxidant levels in this plant make it an excellent choice to aid with heart health. Antioxidants decrease free-radical oxygen molecules. These rogue oxygens can “take a bite” out of healthy tissue molecules by robbing the good tissues of an electron in order to stabilize themselves. This can result in things like atherosclerosis, poor venous supply, and other issues. Holy Basil may be a good addition to the antioxidant arsenals. Some sources even say it has the lipid lowering effect.
Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is another attribute of Holy Basil. IT has hypoglycemic qualities attributed to it. However, it should be stated it is not substitute for prescription medication. Also, if you have a blood sugar issue and use this plant, always act on the side of caution by monitoring your blood sugar.
Those suffering from elevated levels of uric acid in their bodies may want to try Holy Basil for its uric acid lowering effects.
Camphene, cineole and eugenol are three terpenes present in Holy Basil which may be of benefit in easing the breathing of those experiencing discomfort in that area. Eugenol specifically has pain relieving qualities.
How do I use it?
I have found the best ways to use this plant are those where you do not chew the leaf. Some sources say using large quantities of this plant in a way that would allow it contact with the teeth is not good for it. Instead, there are sources stating to make it into a decoction (tea) and use it as a rinse to be beneficial as a mouthwash or dental rinse.
I like to make kadha chai. I find that when I have discomfort breathing, this tea relieves some of it.
2 tsp black tea leaves
2 cups waterBay leaves
1/2 tbsp carom seeds
2 Black pepper
2 ClovesGreen cardamom
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 inch turmeric root
1 tbsp lemon juice
Honey to taste
Some companies have some great, balanced Holy Basil supplements out there. On I like to use is Nature’s Cortisol Formula. Click on this link to read more from the manufacturer https://www.naturessunshine.com/recommended-products/653034/db01b05db01b05f/?sid=653034&offer=NSP
I also like to make a warm tea with black pepper and tulsi when I am trying to promote sweating (diaphoretic). A tea can be made with it and cardamom (another of my favorites) to help relax the gut muscles and expel gas.
As with any herb , there are some times to not use it.
Do not use if you have low blood sugar. It may cause uterine contractions and therefore should ne be used by pregnant women in any stage. Eugenol poison can occur if used to excess (and I mean A LOT). Symptoms of too much eugenol include bloody coughs, rapid breathing and blood in the urine. It may decrease fertility in men. Do not use with blood thinners, prescription and over the counter (baby aspirin).