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TULSI: Queen of Herbs

I've been wanting to make a blend using Holy Basil (also known as Tulsi) for quite some time. I am quite captivated by the aroma, the lore, and the efficacy of this incredible plant. I was first introduced to the holy basil in my mother's herb garden as an adolescent. The use of the word "holy" in the name fascinated me, but it wasn't until years later that I understood the significance of it.

Like all basils, holy basil is a flowering plant of the mint family (Lamiaceae) grown for its aromatic leaves. It is native to and grown throughout the Indian subcontinent where it is highly revered.

I recall an Indian friend and fellow yoga teacher giving me a potted holy basil plant years later. He told me that the medicinal and protective qualities of this herb, when planted at the front door of the family home is said to protect the occupants from illness and diseases. This type of herbal wisdom can be traced back thousands of years, well before modern science proved the medicinal properties of the plant. Holy Basil is also grown in the garden of many temples throughout India.

Tulsi is described as “the incomparable one” in the Charaka Samhita, the quintessential text on Ayurveda written around 1000 BC. It is considered to be the plant embodiment of Tulasi or Vrindavani, a consort of Lord Vishnu and it is said that it grew from her ashes. In one version of the legend, Tulasi was tricked into betraying her husband when she was seduced by the god Vishnu in the guise of her husband. In her torment, Tulasi killed herself, and Vishnu declared that she would be “worshipped by women for her faithfulness” and would keep women from becoming widows. Tulsi later became the symbol of love, fidelity, spiritual enlightenment, eternal life, purification and protection.

Tulsi is often viewed as a living gateway between heaven and earth, and is regarded as the manifestation of the divine in the plant kingdom. For this reason, holy basil has also played a role in burial rituals, including scattering the leaves on graves as well as growing the plant on graves.

As Tulsi traveled west along the early trade routes from the Asia to Europe, it became known to Christians as “sacred” or “holy” basil, and was included in many of their legends, offerings and worship rituals as well. Holy basil is used in Chinese medicine with similar reverence.

Holy basil exhibits impressive adaptogenic activity. It helps the body adapt to stresses of various kinds, and has a normalizing, broad-spectrum action that maintains homeostasis. Holy basil maintains equilibrium among the biochemicals associated with the stress response in the body. Ursolic, rosmarinic acid and eugenol have all shown antioxidant activity and support normal levels of inflammation.

Historical medicinal uses include treatment of colds and flu due to its antiviral, antibacterial, and decongestant properties. In India, it is used in a tea to clear congestion, stimulate appetite, and aid in digestion.

The herbal tincture and dried leaves (in tea or capsule form) are used to support a healthy response to stress, maintain blood sugar levels within a normal range, promote longevity, nourish the mind and elevate the spirit.

Note: the essential oil form is not suitable for ingestion. You will find many varieties of tulsi tea, holy basil tinctures, and holy basil capsules at your local health food store or natural grocery store.

From an Ayurvedic standpoint, and perhaps analogous to its adaptogenic classification, holy basil is a rasayana herb. Rasayana is the rejuvenation branch of Ayurvedic medicine. Before there was "anti-aging" there was rasayana! Herbs, tonics, specific diet and even specific physical and mental practices which promote vitality and longevity by delaying the aging process and preventing disease are called rasayana.

Imagine you have been ill and now, your sole priority is to rest and get strong. Fast-forward a few days: you’ve been sleeping like crazy, hot baths and day naps galore and you know your body is no longer dealing with a sleep deficit, but now, you need to rebuild your vitality! This is Rasayana, the rebuild, the rejuvenation, the regaining of your power and the ability to be strong in body and mind.

Last fall I created a blend called TULSI that features this amazing plant and honors its role as the "Queen of Herbs." I first introduced it in candle form because I noticed that the blend has a scent throw above and beyond any other blend I've created. I was so impressed by the power of Tulsi that I decided to make it available in its pure essential oil form as well. You're welcome! 😊



Warm and uplifting. This powerful blend of essential oils fosters greater self-confidence and promotes self-assurance. It is helpful when dealing with situational anxiety or depression. Here's what's in it...

HOLY BASIL (Ocimum sanctum) helps reduce stress, anxiety, nervous depression, and fear. It also has a mildly sedative effect. Holy basil is said to open the heart and bring harmony to the mind, as its effects on the emotions can be very strengthening when suffering from fear or loss.

Holy basil has an herbaceous aroma with woody/balsamic undertones and a powerful, lingering sweetness.

LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia) is calming, stabilizing, helps to ease nervous tension and dissipate feelings of panic and hysteria, helps to release pent-up energy within.

GERANIUM (Pelargonium graveolens) conveys a feeling of calm strength and security. It has a sensual, liberating nature. It nourishes the creativity of the intellect, and brings forth imagination, intuition, and sensory experience.

Dilute TULSI well (a little goes a long way) and add drop by drop to your diffuser or preparation until the desired effect is achieved. A maximum dermal use dilution of 1% is recommended. For those of you new to aromatherapy, that means you would add 1 ml of Tulsi Blend to 99 ml of carrier oil.

I use this blend (sparingly) in my diffuser during my yoga and meditation practices. I love the symbolism of bridging the spiritual realm and the physical realm with this gift from Nature herself. Reverence to Queen Tulsi, merging with breath, entering the holy temple of my body to help me connect to all that is.



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