All herbs have a purpose—whether it’s culinary or medicinal—but, it’s a particularly good sign when an herb is revered as the “queen of herbs” and is held as a holy plant worthy of worship. This plant, holy basil (Tulsi), not only has medicinal benefits, but is also said to have spiritual benefits.
Basil In Cooking
Holy basil, or Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is a member of the mint family. It’s closely related to the sweet basil you add to Italian dishes and pesto, but the flavors are quite different. This plant is sometimes referred to as pepper basil as its clove-flavor is spicier than its sweet counterpart.
The plant is said to be an adaptogen. Adaptogens essentially adapt to serve the body where it needs them most. Typically, adaptogens are characterized as stress-busters, and this is where we will find the majority of research on Tulsi.
Basil Health Benefits
Holy basil has numerous beneficial properties including adaptogenic (anti-stress), antibacterial, anti-fungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It can also boost memory, reduce fever, sooth a cough, relieve anxiety and balance emotional health and clear acne.
Tulsi can do well in either pots or in the ground. It prefers warm soil and sunlight. Be cautious that it gets plenty of water, as drying out in the hot summer sun could mean certain death. As it grows it will develop flowers. To encourage a larger, bushier plant, you can pinch off these blossoms. However, most sources say that letting the plant flower won’t affect its healing potency. A note on harvesting basil: Clip those parts higher than 5 inches and without flowers for the best leaves. Careful not to harvest more than you need as over-harvesting can harm a not-quite-established plant.
Holy basil tea
Cover 2 teaspoons of fresh tulsi leaves with 8 ounces of boiling water, then cover and let steep for about 5 minutes before straining the leaves off and drinking. © Angela Soya