What Is Tulsi?

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As an herbalist, most people I talk to are seeking relief from a spot in their lives that feels out of hand; some kind of environmental, physical, or mental stress has pushed them far from the familiarity of having manageable and comfortable lives.

What if instead of reacting to our lives once they reached a place of unbearable imbalance, we had the tools to avoid those places all together? This is the goal of herbalism. When we work with plants we aim to bolster and defend the parts of our lives and bodies that keep us feeling “normal” — relatively in balance, stress-free, and comfortable.

When it comes to stress, the group of herbs referred to as adaptogens are crucial allies in preventing chaos and regaining balance. Tulsi, or holy basil, is a plant that most of us can benefit from when we feel stressed.

What Is Tulsi?

It is not uncommon to find basil growing in people’s gardens, in window boxes, and even on the sunny fire escapes of city apartments. Different homes might cultivate different types of basil, as there are over 100 species. Holy Basil or tulsi is a sacred plant in the Hindu religion. It is worshiped, respected as a protector of the home in which it grows, and used as a time-honored medicine. In medicinal preparations we most often use the leaves and flowers.

How Can Tulsi Help Me?

I reach for tulsi when the million things in my life have come together culminating in the perfect storm of feeling stuck with brain fog. When my impulse is to silently scream “I need a week away from it all!” and then collapse on my bed, I can tell I could do with a little holy basil.

Because I’m a regular person without service staff or heaps of expendable income, tulsi provides the relief, quiet motivation, and grace to deal with it all. While calming my nervous system it gently stimulates my brain so I can move through and out of whatever is contributing to my cloudy thinking.

Is Tulsi Right for Me?

When taken over a long period of time Tulsi can help us build up tolerance to stress through improved resiliency and vitality. A simple tea from fresh or dried tulsi is safe enough to drink every day as long as you’re not pregnant (consult your physician).

Herbalist David Hoffman wrote that “adaptogens smooth the highs and lows of stress.” This can only happen through long-term, committed relationships with plants that suit our individual lives, preferences, and needs. When we combine a program involving plants with routines that can help us from feeling stressed or stuck, then we are more likely to succeed.

Tulsi is particularly helpful in the places we feel stuck, bound by habits that don’t serve us, and keep us from breaking through to the clarity that enables us to think about what would truly be best for us.

Where Can I Buy Tulsi?

There are three types of Tulsi: Rama Tulsi, Krishna Tulsi, and Vana Tulsi. You can find a variety of Tulsi-related products from dried leaves, to tea blends, to extracts from Mountain Rose Herbs.

About CC Buckley

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CC Buckley is the herbalist behind Ripe, a site dedicated to practicing herbalism in real life. She is a graduate of Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism. She’s also currently working on a medicinal plants book for Roost. Check out how she starts her herb-filled morning here.

Herbalism 101

Adaptogens are just one method some people use to help themselves feel better. Are they right for you? In this mini series we’re covering the basics of what adaptogens are, what they do, and how you can learn more about them. We’ll also be talking about a few popular adaptogens: tulsi, ashwagandha, and reishi

If you are pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription medications, consult a qualified expert before beginning a new program involving plants. Ashwagandha should be avoided if you have hyperthyroidism or Grave’s Disease. The information in this article should not be used to diagnose, cure, or treat any disease, implied or otherwise.