There is a reason an herb earns the nicknames Holy Basil, The Incomparable One and Queen of Herbs. The herb tulsi—also spelled tulasi or thulasi—has been a staple in households across India and other parts of Asia for more than 5,000 years. Traditionally grown in a simple earthenware pot in the kitchen or garden, tulsi is a nourishing variety of basil, Ocimum sanctum, with many more wellness applications than its cousin, culinary basil (Ocimum basilicum).
In Hinduism, Tulsi is revered as a goddess in the form of a plant bestowed with healing powers. Though the herbaceous goddess herself is surrounded by legend, modern research, including a 2010 study in Pharmacognosy Review, has confirmed many ways tulsi benefits health and enhances life.
In recent years, tulsi has gained popularity for easing anxiety when stress rears its head. It is an adaptogen, which means it supports the body on a cellular level to reduce the negative impact of stress, inviting calmness and clarity within.
Tulsi bolsters energy levels without stimulating the adrenals, but does not contain caffeine or other stimulants. Its positive effect on stamina is also due to its adaptogenic properties, which nourish the nervous system, allowing it to produce the right harmony of hormones, dopamine and serotonin.
Also, energy that is more balanced and strong all day long causes sleep to be deeper and more restful. Tulsi rejuvenates the body at its root functions, promoting mental acuity and youthful vigor.
Thanks to its balancing act on dopamine and serotonin, our body’s two naturally occurring chemicals known to induce happiness, tulsi can help improve moodiness.
Immunity, digestion and anti-inflammation support
Tulsi is a rich source of antioxidants and phytonutrients that enhance digestion, support immune system function, and help strengthen the body’s healthy inflammation response.
In India, tulsi leaves have traditionally been infused in hot water to make an aromatic, delicious medicinal tea, typically consumed several times daily. The hot water releases the most beneficial properties and essential oils of the herb, making it easier for the body to absorb and utilize them. Tulsi is available in most natural food stores in teabag form, so you can enjoy this invigorating herb the traditional way, or as an herbal supplement capsule for wellness on-the-go.
Hopi Darnell is a dedicated stay-at-home mom, ayurvedic wellness educator and herbalist based in Boulder, Colorado. She spent seven years working for ORGANIC INDIA USA (www.organicindiausa.com), producer of organic herbal wellness teas and functional supplements, and continues to offer private wellness consulting. She wrote this article as a consultant to ORGANIC INDIA USA.