What You Need to Know About Tulsi
This is the first in a series of blog posts about common Ayurvedic herbs. As you may know, I have been studying to become an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant through Maryland University of Integrative Healthand will finish up next week. That being said, I couldn’t be more excited to share many of the things I have learned with you and thought that a few different blog series would be a wonderful way to begin. This is the first of said series (stay tuned for another coming soon on Ayurveda and Yoga Asana). I will also do my best anytime I am blogging or sharing about anything Ayurveda (and Yoga) to share both the Sanskrit term and English translation when possible.
A few things before I dive into the herb, Tusli. First, is that according to Ayurveda, all foods and liquids contain six tastes which are sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, astringent and combinations of each. (Tirtha, 2012) Ayurvedic herbs give their healing properties through quality (guna), taste (rasa), energy (vīrya), post-digestive effect (vipāka) and specific action (prabhāva). (Lad, 2012) In this herb series, I will share one herb per blog and include general information about the herb, the initial taste (rasa), the energy, power, strength and potency of the herb (vīrya), its post-digestive effect (vipāka), the dynamic and/or unpredictable action that cannot be explained by the logic of rasa, vīrya or vipāka (prabhāva), benefits and how to use. (Lad, 2002) I will also mention how each herb affects and supports the three doshas. If you are interested in learning more about vata, pitta and kapha (the three doshas), you can refer to any of the resources below:
The Ayurvedic Doshas from the Kripalu website
My Instagram profile for posts specific to vata, pitta and kapha
I must also mention that I am not a doctor and am simply sharing information that I have learned through my studies. I recommend you consult with your doctor or an Ayurvedic Practitioner or Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine for specific questions as they relate to your health.
Ok, let’s jump in! Tulsi means “incomparable one” in Sanskrit and is a spiritual herb referred to as “The Queen of Herbs”, which made it fitting to be the first in this series. Tulsi is referred to as Holy Basil in English and is a small herb found throughout India. Tulsi can reduce vata and kapha and can increase pitta when taken in excess. (Tirtha, 2020)
Parts used: leaft, seed, bark and root
Rasa: pungent, bitter
Vīrya: heating (but seeds are cooling)
Prabhāva: enhances quality of the mind, is sattvic (increases mental calmness, contentment and resilience) and has a unique ability to assist in opening the heart to love.
Additional benefits: can reduce fever, used for vata and kapha skin conditions, to treat urinary tract infections, to rid the common cold, congestion, cough and flu. (Lad, 2012)
Tulsi is a renowned adaptogen and is linked to enhancing the immune system, as mentioned above. According to this article from PubMed, scientific research is confirming its effects. “There is mounting evidence that tulsi can address physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress through a unique combination of pharmacological actions. Tulsi has been found to protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals, and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint and exposure to cold and excessive noise. Tulsi has also been shown to counter metabolic stress through normalization of blood glucose, blood pressure and lipid levels, and psychological stress through positive effects on memory and cognitive function and through its anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties.”
I don’t know about you, but I want all the Tulsi in my life! Typically, this herb is enjoyed in tea (check out this one that I drink each day) but can also be taken in other forms such as tablets, used in daily massage oils or as a liquid extract.
The information on Tulsi is vast and I encourage you to research it a bit yourself. Here is another wonderful resource that you can check out if you’re interested. As always, I’m here to answer any questions you may have or guide you towards more information on this beautiful and delicious herb.
Lad, V. (2002). Textbook of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic Press.
Lad, V. (2012). Textbook of Ayurveda. Albuquerque, NM: Ayurvedic Press.
Tirtha, S. S. (2020). The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention, & Longevity. Sat Yuga Press.