For over 3,000 years the health benefits of tulsi, or holy basil, have been revered and tulsi is one of India’s most sacred and powerful plants. Just think about it, ayurveda, one of the oldest and most sophisticated systems of medicine in the world, reveres this plant! That’s saying a lot! Tulsi is yet another herb with powerful properties that will leave you asking, “What can’t it do?” In Sanskrit, tulsi means “beyond compare.” It is also referred to as an elixir of life, queen of herbs, and Mother Nature of medicine in the Hindu culture. So, here is your introductory guide to Tulsi!
Hindus view Tulsi as a goddess (a manifestation of Lakshmi) in the form of a plant bestowed with great spiritual powers. According to legend, no amount of gold could outweigh Krishna’s power, but a single Tulsi leaf placed on the pan in loving devotion tilted that scale. In India today, Tulsi is still traditionally grown in an earthenware pot in every family home or garden and the leaves are used to make a delicious and refreshing tea. As Tulsi traveled west along the early trade routes from the Orient to Europe, it became known to the Christians as “sacred” or “holy” basil as is reflected in its Latin botanical name, Ocimum sanctum. They hailed Tulsi as “The King of Herbs” instead of as a queen, and Holy Basil became routinely included in legends, offerings and worship rituals and was looked on by many as a gift of Christ!
There are at least five different types of tulsi, and while they can be used somewhat interchangeably, they also have their slight differences.
- Rama tulsi (Ocimum sanctum syn. O. tenuiflorum) has green leaves and is the most commonly cultivated holy basil and the easiest to find in commerce.
- Krishna tulsi (Ocimum sanctum syn. O. tenuiflorum) has leaves that are more purple in color.
- Amrita tulsi (Ocimum sanctum syn. O. tenuiflorum) has green leaves with purplish highlights.
- Kapoor tulsi (Ocimum sanctum syn. O. tenuiflorum) has green leaves, compact growth, and a fruity fragrance.
- Vana tulsi (Ocimum gratissimum), also known as African basil, is a perennial basil that is less commonly found in commerce. Native to India and East Africa, it grows in the wild and it can be easily cultivated in tropical or subtropical climates.
Did you know that tulsi helps to strengthen and modulate the immune system? It can be taken to both prevent and address active and acute upper respiratory viruses like colds or influenza. As an expectorant herb, it also has an affinity for supporting the body to remove mucus from the lungs, so it can be used for bronchitis as well as pulmonary weakness. Quite useful during a time like this!
Tulsi has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and analgesic (painkilling) properties. It can help kill bacteria that can cause breakouts and skin infections, so it’s a great natural remedy for wounds, plus a home remedy for acne and other skin irritations. It’s believed to benefit the skin and treat skin infections both internally and externally. The primary active compound of tulsi is eugenol, also the active ingredient in the powerful antimicrobial clove oil, which is widely believed to help combat many skin disorders. Tulsi also contains other therapeutic components, including gamma-caryophyllene and methyl eugenol.
Vitamin K is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in bone health and heart health. It’s one of the main vitamins involved in bone mineralization and blood clotting, but it also helps maintain brain function, a healthy metabolism and cellular health. One cup of tulsi leaves has more than your daily recommended value of vitamin K, making it a perfect source to prevent vitamin K deficiency! Plus, vitamin K can be beneficial to your bone density, digestive health and brain function.
Tulsi has also shown to have positive benefits for people with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Numerous studies have shown that young people taking 250 mg of tulsi extract twice a day on an empty stomach for eight weeks had significant improvements in lipid profiles and insulin levels. Another study with patients who had non-insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes showed a significant lowering of blood glucose and a significant reduction in total cholesterol, low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, very-low-density–lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides.
As you can see, tulsi is a herb full of health and wellness benefits, and has become a primary focus of the Tipson research and development team. Through their efforts, we have developed the Organic Tulsi range which now brings you all the health benefits of tulsi in a variety of different flavours!