As the weather shifts from summer to fall, I have been wrestling with a mild throat infection for the last few weeks. As part of my ayurvedic arsenal, I’ve been using holy basil to help rid me of the infection and thought to share a bit more about this amazing herb, commonly known as tulsi in Hindi. Revered since ancient times as an herb that can promote a healthy body, mind, and spirit, this sacred plant is often planted in Hindu households. The name tulsi literally translates to mean “the incomparable one.”
In Western medicine, holy basil is valued as an adaptogen, with the plant being used to combat the negative effects of stress in the body, maintain stable blood sugar levels and promote longevity.
According to Ayurveda, tulsi helps to reduce kapha throughout the body and mind. It supports the lungs by removing kapha buildup and promotes healthy breathing. It balances excess vata or kapha in the head and nerves, while also soothing vata in the digestive tract.
Beyond the above benefits, holy basil has been used to treat many conditions, including: asthma, bronchitis, colds, congestion, cough, fever, flu, headache, sinusitis, sore throat, stress, upset stomach, earache and so much more. With its many protective properties, it has been shown to be: adaptogenic, antidiarrheal, antimicrobial, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic (prevents itching), antitussive (treats cough), anti-arthritic, anticoagulant.
Although there are many different varieties, only three types of holy basil are used medicinally. They are:
Krishna – Ocimum tenuiflorum has a purple tinge to its leaves. The Krishna variety makes a delicious tea and is the most potent, being tested highest in concentrations of adaptogenic triterpenic compounds.
Vana – Ocimum gratissimum is the original wild bush basil that is very high in eugenol (a natural antiseptic) and a great adaptogen.
Rama – Ocimum sanctum is the short, annual, heavily flowered plant that was originally introduced to the U.S. as holy basil. It is the most common type found in cultivation in the U.S.
Dosages for fresh tulsi range from three to 15 leaves; for tea, one to three bags depending on desired strength or effect; 200 mg to 2,500 mg for any encapsulated product; and up to two teaspoons for the powdered, dried herb.
Interested in trying tulsi for yourself? Here’s our short list of favorite tulsi products to try:
Organic India Tulsi Tea Original, 18-Count Teabags or their Sweet Rose Caffeine Free Tea variety (my personal favorite)
Special Note: Research suggests that holy basil might have a mild anti-fertility effect. If you are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant, talk to your health care practitioner before taking medicinal doses of holy basil.
Also, keep in mind is that tulsi may slow blood clotting, so taking tulsi along with medications that also slow clotting may increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Due to its influence on blood clotting, you should discontinue use of holy basil two weeks before any scheduled surgery. As mentioned above, be sure to consult with your health care practitioner before taking medicinal doses of holy basil.
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