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Tulsi the super herb with a myriad of benefits

Throughout history, humans have long had a connection to plants as food, fiber, and medicine. The value of plants is remarkable. Plant wisdom has been passed down from generation to generation, spanning time and place. Civilizations across the globe have held reverence for plants throughout the centuries.  Medicine stories and the magic of plants can be found interwoven throughout sacred texts and written word. The lore of plants is phenomenal.

There is a strong desire in the modern world for a reconnection with plants. As wild spaces become more scarce, there is a sense of urgency and necessity for the sanctity of nature to be preserved. We as a human collective have a responsibility to protect the wild spaces and create cultivated ecologies. We have an obligation to support small businesses that value community, support fair trade, pledge to provide fair wages and support regenerative practices. There is a strong need for consumers to demand good practices in production and manufacturing. A good place to start is with the foods and beverages we consume on a daily basis.  Supporting local businesses is key to circulating funds back into the local economy and ensuring a robust local foods movement.

Big Heart Tea Co is an exceptional example of a small business that practices earth care, people care, and fair shares.  They offer an amazing line of teas that are sourced directly from farmers. Their tea blends are packed with herbal besties you never knew you had.

Medicinal herbs have had a way of drawing me in, calling to me, in a way that feels visceral and magnetic. I have had a long affinity for herbalism and the beauty and magic of plants. Tulsi had me at hello and she’s had a special place in my garden ever since.

Drinking a cup of tulsi tea brings a sense of calm and peace to one's body and mind. Imagine sitting in your favorite spot. Imagine the feeling of warm tulsi tea in your favorite ceramic mug. Cue fresh air, a gentle breeze, and the warm sun kissing your skin. Drinking tulsi tea resembles the sensation of being wrapped in a handmade quilt.  Tulsi has a delightful way of bringing a sense of balance to the body and ease to the mind. Its flavor is delicious, sweet, earthy, and inviting with a slight bitterness that awakens the taste buds. Its aroma is fragrant, floral, and lovely.

Tulsi, commonly known as Holy Basil is a long-revered amazing medicinal super herb with a myriad of benefits.

Tulsi is native to India and can be found growing wild and as a cultivated herb throughout Southeast Asia.

In India, tulsi is revered as an incarnation of the Hindu goddess, Tulsi and is known as the “queen of herbs”.  Tulsi has been long revered in Ayurvedic medicine. According to many ayurvedic practitioners, there is mention of tulsi in Aryuvedic literature dating back to 4000-5000 BC. There is also mention of tulsi in the RigVeda, ancient Hindu texts from 3500-1600 B.C. (

Rosemary Gladstar, world-renowned author and herbalist explains how “herbalism is the oldest system of healing used on the planet; plants are our teachers and we have evolved in relation to them; everything at the base of the food chain comes from plants. Plants were here long before humans and we have evolved in relationship to them”- Numen film

Herbalists worldwide have an affinity for tulsi as an apothecary essential. It is most commonly used as a single herb tea or blended with other herbs such as mint, ginger, hibiscus, lemongrass, or chamomile to make a lovely herbal tea. Tulsi can also be blended into a medicinal chai blend alongside cinnamon, turmeric, and black pepper. It can also be made into a tisane, an extract, an oxymel, a syrup, or an infused honey.

Tulsi is a broad spectrum medicinal herb, meaning that it supports multiple body systems and has a plethora of herbal actions.

Tulsi has adaptogenic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, aromatic, immunomodulatory, and antioxidant properties, among others.

As an adaptogenic herb, tulsi helps to reduce mild stress and anxiety and provides relief from general fatigue. As an antibacterial and immonomodulatory herb, tulsi supports the immune system and provides relief from cold and flu symptoms as well as helps to relieve mild respiratory complaints. As an antioxidant herb, tulsi helps to remove free radicals from the body and has been used as a cancer preventative. 

As an anti-inflammatory herb, tulsi has been known to reduce inflammation. As a general superstar herb, it also provides relief from common gastric upsets/mild digestive complaints, aids in reducing fever, and often provides temporary relief from headaches,  It has been used to support the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the digestive system, the muscular system, and the central nervous system.

Tulsi is rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients making it a food as medicine staple in the garden and the pantry. Tulsi has been traditionally mixed with ghee and taken daily. It can also be made into a delicious pesto, or dried and added to a spice blend.

Tulsi is in the Lamiaceae family (mint family). Indications that a plant is in the mint family are a square stem, opposite leaves, and often aromatic. There are over 50 species of Ocimum growing worldwide. The most common Tulsi species are Krishna Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), Rama Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), and Vana Tulsi (Ocimum gratissimum).

Garden babe: Tulsi is a shining star in any tea garden or apothecary garden. It is a low-growing flowering herb that can grow at an average height of 3 feet.  It grows well as an annual herb in the U.S. in gardening zones 6-9 but does exceptional as a tender perennial in zones 10-11. Tulsi requires full sun and well-drained soil to thrive. It also performs well in pots or container gardens. It can grow well from seed or transplant. Sometimes tulsi will leave a little surprise in the garden as it occasionally reseeds itself in optimum conditions.  The flowering stalks can be cut regularly to promote leaf growth. Fresh tulsi leaves and flowers can be harvested, fully dried, and stored in large amber glass airtight containers to preserve freshness.

Because of its remarkable herbal properties, there is a high demand for organic tulsi, making it a wonderful crop for regenerative farmers to grow. It is farmed in a large-scale fashion in subtropical climates. Organic tulsi farms are popping up worldwide.

Tulsi is a powerful herb that is accessible, gentle, and full of medicinal benefits that will leave you peaceful and at ease. It's an herb that you begin to crave and long for when the feelings of stress start creeping in.  It has the capacity to relieve what ails you. Get to know tulsi. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Crystal Stevens is the co-founder of the Tend & Flourish School of Botanicals with Alex Queathem. Tend & Flourish runs a myriad of herbal education programs in the St. Louis area including an Herbal Foundations Program and a Homegrown Apothecary Apprenticeship. Stevens co-owns Flourish Farm with her husband, Eric Stevens, and two children (Cay and Iris) in Godfrey, IL.  Stevens is an Author, a Folk Herbalist, Regenerative Farmer, and an Artist/Art Teacher.  Stevens has written 3 books published by New Society Publishers. Stevens speaks at conferences and Mother Earth News Fairs across the U.S. She has been teaching a Resilient Living workshop series for over a decade.

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