Holy Basil tea has been a part of my evening ritual again for the past few weeks. I discovered it last summer and drank a lot of it, but then I couldn’t find it in loose leaf form for about 6 months and so I got out of the habit of drinking it. Finally, I found it again, but I decided that I needed to start growing it so that I would always have a secure supply on hand. It is THAT good. Luckily it is very easy to grow. (You can find seeds here if you decide to grow it.) The pictures are from my Holy Basil plants that are just starting to flower. If you’re still reading, you are probably wondering just what is so awesome about this Holy Basil plant, right? Well, I am just thrilled to answer you! Read on, my friend.
Holy Basil (aka Tulsi) is an adaptogenic herb. An adaptogenic herb is an herb that “adapts” to your needs. How cool is that? It will lower your cortisol levels (stress hormones), but only if you need it. If you don’t need it, it doesn’t do it. It promotes a feeling of calm and well-being. Just smelling the plant or the dried leaves relaxes me in a similar way that smelling lavender or chamomile does. It also gives you energy at the same time it relaxes you. I am not talking about caffeine-like energy but real energy from within. Here are a few more benefits for you.
Benefits of Holy Basil:
- Boost immunity
- Liver protective
- Strengthens cardiovascular system
- Normalizes blood sugar
- Great for healing respiratory issues such as bronchitis, tuberculosis, and asthma.
- Excellent for oral health.
- Effects mood, memory and cognitive function positively.
- Detoxifier and mild diuretic. Holy Basil is great for kidney issues such as kidney stones and gout because it helps the body excrete uric acid.
- Insect repellent
- Heals skin lesions and many diseases.
- Is taken as a tonic in India to maintain youthful skin and lengthen life span.
- Protects from radiation damage
- Lowers fevers
- Lowers cortisol levels if they are too high (as stated above).
- Boosts energy (as stated above)
Things to do with Holy Basil:
- Make Holy Basil tea: Holy Basil makes a very tasty tea alone or blended with some of your other favorite herbal flavors. I love to mix it with dried ginger. Teas are my favorite way to consume this herb. I try to get at least one large tea cup full of it daily. Steep it covered for 10-15 minutes to get the most out of your Holy Basil. (As with most herbs, the longer you steep, the more medicinal the flavor. If you are just starting out, try 10 minutes at first and work your way up if you like.) Organic India has a whole line of flavored Holy Basil teas. Sweet Rose is my favorite, but they have Turmeric Ginger, Lemon Ginger, Green, Chai, and a Sleep Combo.
- Make or buy a tincture: This provides a more concentrated dose than tea and is a very portable option. Here is a tutorial on tincture making.
- Make an herbal vinegar (either medicinal or culinary): Fill a mason jar 3/4 of the way with fresh Holy Basil Leaves (pack them down). Fill the jar with Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Put a lid on the jar and shake it. Let sit for 3 or 4 weeks. When it is ready, strain out the leaves and keep the vinegar! You can use this to make salad dressing, or to drink before meals (a tablespoon in a cup of water 15-20 minutes before meals.)
If you are interested in learning more about common herbs that you can grow and use safely, I recommend Rosemary Gladstar’s book Medicinal Herbs, A Beginner’s Guide. It is awesome!
If you want to more about adaptogenic herbs, I recommend Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by David Winston.