Tulsi - More Than Just a Tasty Tea

If you have visited me at the medicinal herbs garden, I have likely "encouraged" you to taste and compare the two different types of tulsi that are growing there. If you've asked me about herbs for making a tasty tea, hot or iced, I've likely steered you toward including tulsi in the blend. If you've asked me about herbs for lifting your mood, supporting your immune system, or calming anxiety, I've likely introduced you to tulsi.

Also known as Holy Basil, Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) is called the "Queen of Herbs" and is considered a sacred plant to Hindus, cultivated in Hindu homes and around their temples. Tulsi is native to India and can be found growing in and around Hindu homes and temples there as well as throughout southeast Asia. Where it grows as a perennial, it can be considered an invasive weed!

Tulsi has been a preeminent herb in the Ayurvedic tradition for thousands of years, to support the body's safe and healthy response to physical, emotional, and environmental stress (yep, an adaptogen). According to the Organic India website, it was "chosen for its broad-spectrum health-supporting properties" and "because it works synergistically with other Ayurvedic adaptogenic herbs such as Turmeric and Ashwagandha". It's worth checking out!

So, why my focus on tulsi now? I've been a bit obsessed with researching herbs that other countries are using to deal with COVID-19 and its new variants, focusing on areas that don't have enough vaccinations available to slow its spread and the majority of their population has historically (and currently) relied heavily on botanical/folk remedies. Tulsi has surfaced several times in different geographical areas. OK, I've known tulsi is an adaptogenic herb and I've experienced the tension melting and life seeming brighter with daily use of my adaptogen blend, which contains tulsi and also when I simply drink tulsi tea. But as a healing herb for COVID-19?! I started digging deeper.

When researching, I often turn to the National Center for Biotechnology website for information, which seems reliable to me. Scroll down to the "Infection protection" area read up on what research has confirmed about tulsi as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent. Just beyond that, it lists a variety of ailments tulsi may help with, including typhoid...some pneumonias...fungal infections...dengue...malaria. Malaria in particular caught my attention as several countries in Africa have found herbs that are used with success in treating malaria have also been found useful in treating COVID.

So, let's check out a more recent article on the NCBI website in regard to tulsi in a molecular docking study. While not claiming that tulsi is a miracle cure for COVID, it may certainly hold some promise for assisting and modulating our immune systems!

We do have two types of tulsi in the medicinal herbs garden, kapoor and krishna. Please visit and taste! The majority of tasters have leaned toward preferring the taste of kapoor. I also grow the krishna as that is the one I prefer. I thought this article by Times of India had some good information about the different varieties. Richo Cech, of Strictly Medicinal Herbs, also wrote a great blog post about tulsi varieties worth reading. (I order my tulsi seeds through Strictly Medicinal each year).

For some great ideas on incorporating tulsi into your daily routine, check out this article by The Herbal Academy, another one of my go-to websites. They list some great ideas for using tulsi as a tea, mouthwash, infused honey or ghee among other tips. I've heard that ghee is very beneficial for improving an herb's absorption in our bodies.

Yes, I'm fully vaccinated for COVID-19. And I just got my annual influenza vaccination last week. But, yes, I will still go out in my kitchen right now and put some tulsi powder into some ghee for easy use. I will increase my use of tulsi in making my kombucha (during the 2nd fermentation stage). I will continue to use Adaptogen Blend powder in my oatmeal each morning. And I will eat some leaves while I'm working in the garden.

So why bother? As I often tell my kids: It's not gonna hurt ya and it just might help!