Holy Basil – The Wonder Herb from the East


By Penny Khaled; the past-president of the Florida Herb Society

Most of us are familiar with the herb basil, but the one found in most kitchens today is Mediterranean Basil. The Ayurvedic herb called Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), is the Asian strain of basil and is different in leaf, form and fragrance.

The name Holy Basil originated in India where it is revered as a sacred herb, and believed be a protector of life and death. Tulsi leaves are regarded as ‘adaptogens.’ Adaptogens are natural herbs that increase the body’s resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue. Tulsi has been used to reduce both stress and elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can increase physical and emotional endurance.

Tulsi has been found to reduce the level of blood cholesterol and chewing just 12 leaves twice a day helps prevent stress and helps to purify the blood. And it has many other benefits too — Tulsi acts as a natural painkiller, a COX ii anti-inflammatory agent, an antioxidant, and can be used for bacterial, fungal and even viral infections. To relieve symptoms of the common cold boil the leaves with powdered cardamom in half a liter of water and add sugar and milk.

With so many uses, Holy Basil is a marvelous and easy herb for anyone to grow on a windowsill or in the garden. It is an annual that reaches about two feet high. Tulsi has green or purple slightly hairy flowers. It has a very strong spicy fragrance similar to cloves.

Tulsi grows easily from seeds planted after frost has passed. Germination typically takes a week. Grow the plant under full sun and pinch it to promote bushiness. It is a perennial but treat it as an annual in cold climates. Dry the leaves near the end of the growing season to ensure that you will have plenty of Tulsi during the cold winter months

Author Bio: Penny Khaled is the past-president of the Florida Herb Society.

Disclaimer: These are only general guidelines as a first aid. It is always better to see a doctor depending upon the intensity of the case. The views expressed above are entirely those of the author.

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