In the introduction to David Winston's Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief, he describes this class of plants simply: "...[they] help the human body adapt to stress, support normal metabolic processes, and restore balance." This is strong medicine.
Adaptogens help your body adapt to stress, and by definition are non-specific. This means that Tulsi doesn’t just
- increase absorption in your gut and the bioavailability of nutrients
- or strengthen the nervous system tissues
- or clear brain fog
- or prevent excess cortisol and adrenaline production
- or enhance dopamine and serotonin
- or calm an over-reactive immune system
- relieve depression
- improve digestion and appetite
- increase the power of other herbs
- reduce the effects of colds, lung and respiratory problems, sinus congestion and headaches, and loosen mucous
- help recovery after radiation treatments
- enhance brain function and concentration, especially with ‘menopausal brain’, ADD, and injuries
Traditionally, people keep a Holy Basil plant outside their front door, and chew a leaf every time they pass. This practice qualifies as “food medicine,” and would give you a frequent, tonic-level dose of constant care. Tulsi powder could be added to your food as well, in smoothies or nut-butter herb balls or anywhere else a little powder could be tucked in, like butter or ghee- use your imagination!
How to Take Your Holy Basil:
- You could add Holy Basil to your juicer or smoothie.
- Pre-packaged teas with Tulsi are becoming more available.
- A tincture could help move past “tonic” and into a more substantial “medicine” dose for someone who is significantly run down and depleted.
- Using a strong infusion in your homemade shampoos, or steeping Tulsi directly in your store bought ones, is a creative way to bring its medicine directly to your head.
Good quality Tulsi is available online, say from Herbiary in Philadelphia, and it’s easy to grow your own- it will be an annual, unless you live in a very tropical clime. I have found good seeds at Herbiary, and actually got some seedlings from my CSA this summer.
My sources for Tulsi information were: classroom lectures and discussions with Lynn Roberts (Ayurveda practitioner), The Ayurveda Encyclopedia by Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha, Herbal Therapy and Supplements by Winston and Kuhn, Adaptogens by Winston, and HorizonHerbs.com.