Ocimum sanctum – Folium (Labiatae)
Common name: Holy basil (E), Tulsi (h)
Sanskrit: Tulsi, Vishnu-priya, Divya
As its Latin name implies, tulsi is considered to be a very sacred plant. It is high in sattwa imparting the quality of lightness and spiritual clarity. Tulsi is an excellent herb for lifting heaviness and congestion throughout the body and mind.
Tulsi is a prolific shrub that can grow up to 4m in height. Tulsi can naturally be found throughout the lowlands of India but also across Sri Lanka, China and Thailand. Its stems are tall and hairy with opposite green or purple toothed leaves which carry a strong scent. Tulsi flowers are purple and elongated, manifesting in close whorls. There are at least three different varieties of this herb; Sri or Ram Tulsi is the green variety, Krishna Tulsi is the red type and Vrina Tulsi is the larger variety. It is the scented leaves which are medicinally valued in this plant.
How it Works
Tulsi stimulates the cerebral circulation whilst also relaxing the central nervous system. This unique quality enables tulsi to awaken the mind bringing mental clarity whilst also calming any nervous tension. Tulsi will restore exhausted adrenal glands, particularly where these have become weakened by trauma, depression and anxiety. It also directly influences the stress response and modulates the release of stress hormones. The pungent and fragrant volatile oils present in this plant support the removal of stuck congestion throughout the body but particularly within the respiratory system where it is an effective expectorant. Tulsi contains two strong antioxidants, superoxide dismutase and superoxide catalase, that provide excellent protection against oxidative stress, particularly in the brain.
Into the Heart of Tulsi
- Tulsi is a fantastic rejuvenative to the brain and spirit. It will improve the circulation to the brain but also provide oxidative protection to the brain cells, protecting them from chronic degeneration and inflammation. It is an excellent neuro-protective, moderating the inflammatory pathway and also regulating nervous cell growth in the brain. The antioxidants in this herb also influence apoptosis in inflammatory tumours.
- Tulsi is classed as an adaptogen because it has a direct nourishing effect upon the adrenal glands and prevents increased corticosterone levels. It’s ability to nourish the adrenal glands whilst also calming the central nervous system make it excellent for dealing with emotional trauma and helping the individual to ‘move on’ and achieve a sense of clarity. It has a significant impact upon conditions that are exacerbated by stress and anxiety such as high blood pressure, tension headaches and fatigue. The pungent volatile oils in this herb make it superb at relieving stagnant and chronic forms of depression.
- The pungent volatile oils in tulsi are incredibly powerful and act as excellent rejuvenatives to body systems that can become affected by chronic congestion such as the respiratory and digestive systems. In both systems, tulsi will increase the blood flow and enhance antibody production, helping to fight chronic and stubborn repetitive infection.
Lungs: Tulsi clears kapha and mucus from the lungs and upper respiratory tract. Its action on rasa dhatu helps treat fevers and flu by encouraging sweating and therefore bringing the temperature down. Its action on pranavahasrotas is used in asthma, bronchitis, rhinitis and other respiratory allergies. Human clinical trials have shown that Tulsi can increase vital lung capacity and reduce laboured breathing. Tulsi specifically increases prana and the vital life force. Its pungency and penetrating nature clears the dampness and toxic ama that can cause chest infections and fevers. Its prabhava or special power is that it can be used in all fevers regardless of their cause.
GIT: The aromatic pungency of tulsi helps to move vata through the intestines and calms a fermented digestive tract by moving apana vayu downwards. It also increases the appetite and is a good warming stimulant to the digestion. Tulsi acts on medas-dhatu-agni and can help to reduce weight as well as reduce blood sugar and total cholesterol levels.
Nerves: Tulsi is used as a mild nervine for heightening awareness and mental clarity. A tea of the leaves is also used for tension headaches from high vata and congestion headaches from excess kapha.
Heart: Tulsi’s affinity for rasa dhatu helps to increase circulation through the heart where there is congestion from high vata and kapha.