Tulsi, also called Holy Basil, is one of the most sacred plants in India and is considered “The Queen of the Herbs” for its restorative and spiritual properties. The herb has been used for thousands of years to support a healthy response to stress, natural detoxification, increase stamina, endurance, and energy, and restore balance and harmony.
Modern research has classified Tulsi as an adaptogenic herb, which are shown to support the body’s healthy reactions to stress. Adaptogenic herbs have been used in the Ayurvedic tradition for thousands of years to promote and maintain wellness. Many adaptogenic herbs have been referred to by herbalists as rejuvenative herbs, qi tonic herbs, rasayanas, or restorative herbs. They help the body adapt to environmental, physical, and emotional stressors, support normal functions, and restore balance.
Professor Marc Cohen is a long-time researcher and advocate for use of the herb. In 2014, he published a report in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, and his work recently spurred mainstream interest in Vogue India. Cohen thinks of tulsi as “India’s green tea,” and even grew it in his back yard to steep and drink everyday.
Cohen’s research looks at the herb and how it helps the body cope with stress, enhances physical and mental health, and promote longevity. Tulsi, he says, also has a unique combination of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and other actions that combine to help the body and mind adapt and cope with a wide range of physical, emotional, chemical, and infectious stresses.
In his research, Cohen found tulsi is credited with improving complexion, stamina, and a calm emotional disposition. Regular consumption has also been shown to assist in the detoxification from environmental chemicals— tulsi plants have even been shown to detoxify the environment and reduce air pollution.
Eat it or drink it, tulsi is easy in integrate into a daily regimen. Cohen’s method of choice to to make tulsi tea with a liter or so of water. You can use fresh tulsi leaves or buy organic tulsi tea, Cohen says, and drink it hot or cold. The leaves can be used to make a DIY mouthwash or hand sanitizer. They can also be added to a pesto sauce or sprinkled on top of a salad. “It’s not just the leaves, every part of the tulsi plant is edible and medicinal,” says Cohen.