In keeping with our desire to live in a balanced, present and conscious manner, we enjoy practicing various holistic approaches that aid in the prevention of so many passive illnesses now commonplace in our culture. One of those approaches is in how we eat. What we choose to feed our bodies is directly linked with not only our energy levels, mental focus and growth, but also our emotional selves and how we interact with each other. Here at the farm we encourage taking a proactive role in improving these areas for ourselves. This is a way to connect a bit more to our way of life with interesting posts about what we are growing on the farm, fascinating information on medicinal plants, valuable insights on functional foods and tasty recipes. After all, sharing the knowledge is but one way to keep us all connected and moving forward. Happy reading and we hope to see you soon!
This member of the mint family has been found throughout the lowlands of India as well as Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malaysia. Lucky for us, it grows well here too! Different from the pesto variety of Basil (Ocimum basilicum), it’s use in India surpasses thousands of years and is recognized as a very powerful herb for longevity. In Ayurveda (an indigenous system of medicine in India) Tulsi is known as a rasayana, an herb that nourishes growth and promotes long life. Daily use is believed to help maintain the balance of the energy centers often referred to as chakras in the body. Here at the farm we grow a few types of Tulsi. Vana Tulsi is a forest variety that often grows wild. It’s wide and soft petals are lovely for making a mild tea. Krishna Tulsi has dark green to purple leaves and a stronger taste and smell. Kapoor Tulsi has smaller green leaves, it flowers with ease and leaves a sweet aroma lingering in the air.
This plant is celebrated for it’s restorative powers such as boosting immunity, promoting a healthy metabolism and relieving inflammation. One of my favorite ways of enjoying Tulsi as a daily tonic is a simple tea using the blossoms and leaves with a touch of honey. It has a pleasant and smooth flavor. I’ll sometimes add fresh lemongrass and mint, a delicious combo. The leaves can also be eaten whole or used in cooking. Tulsi contains no caffeine or other stimulants so no worries on getting the jitters. What you will get is a nice dose of antioxidants, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and zinc. In addition, it enhances efficient digestion, absorption and use of nutrients in food. The tea has been found to be helpful with upset stomach and vomiting and can also be used as an expectorant with excessive bronchial mucus and bronchitis.
Other traditional uses of this herb include using the roots and leaves as a poultice for bites and stings for wasps, bees, mosquitos, ants, and leeches. The fresh juice of the leaf has been used for earaches. The mucilaginous seeds soothe the urinary tract when urination is difficult. The chemistry of this plant is complex and unique, a myriad of organic compounds unable to be replicated in its entirety. Ongoing research on the pharmacological effects of the essential oils and eugenol (one of the active constituents found in the plant) and its effects on the immune system, central nervous system, urinary system and gastric system demonstrate the significance of Tulsi as a therapeutically beneficial herb.
If you’d like to enjoy fresh Tulsi for yourself, it’s nice to know that growing it isn’t difficult. Often a new appreciation for a plant awakens within when you get to watch it develop and grow. In general Tulsi prefers full sun and rich garden soil. Barely cover the seed with soil, press firmly, and keep evenly moist until germinated which takes between one and three weeks. Thin or transplant to 1 foot apart. Once the plant reaches a height of about 12 inches you can pinch back any flowers to keep it from going to seed or allow the plant to seed and start a new generation.
Though it has plenty of applications, it’s good to think of Tulsi as a tonic herb, the main function being to maintain wellness with an emphasis on staying well more than getting cured. It also helps increase the body’s resistance to stress, a key factor in it being an adaptogen as well. One consideration: If you are pregnant or lactating it may be best to avoid consuming Tulsi as it has been shown to have anti-fertility effects at medicinal doses. Otherwise enjoy the abundance of healing goodness that Tulsi offers!
DISCLAIMER: This is not medical advice nor is it meant to take the place of medical treatment. Before trying any food or herb that is new to you, please do your research and be informed. If you have a serious medical condition or are pregnant, you should consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before making any serious changes to your diet.
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