by Liz Faermark, certified clinical herbalist
March’s Herb of the Month is Tulsi — aka Holy Basil, or Tulsi Basil. This plant is as versatile as it is delicious. Let’s explore some reasons to adore (and use) this beautiful herb. (And then keep reading to learn how to make calming adaptogen electuaries with tulsi!)
1. Tulsi can help ease feelings of anxiety.
Holy basil is a nervine – or an herb that helps soothe the nervous system. This makes it a wonderful ally for folks who experience occasional acute anxiety. A cup of hot tulsi tea can impart a calm, centered feeling. It can also be uplifting for many people, and encourage a feeling of joy! We use tulsi in our Address That Stress tea blend and Anxiety Calm tincture blend for this very reason.
2. Tulsi is a gentle adaptogen.
Adaptogens are herbs that help the body better adapt to stress. They truly are a remedy for our times. So, it’s no surprise that adaptogens have come into fashion in the last several years! Tulsi has a unique effect on the body: it can provide a calming quality in the short term, and also offer uplifting energy when used for longer periods of time. Tulsi is not sedative, which makes it a great herb for daytime use.
3. Tulsi is easy to grow in a home garden.
Some plants that are native to tropical climates can be hard to grow in more temperate climates (like that of most of North America). Tulsi, however, is a tough annual or perennial herb that will usually grow with ease in most temperate climates! It is very easy to start from seed, and can yield multiple harvests throughout the summer and early fall months. If you want to experiment with growing your own medicinal herbs, tulsi is a great herb to try.
4. Tulsi attracts lots of pollinators!
There is nothing quite like stooping down to the tulsi patch to take in the low, humming drone of the bees. Tulsi flowers bloom in a range of purple hues. And bees are very attracted to shades of purple, violet and blue. Consider adding a tulsi patch to your garden to increase pollinator traffic!
5. Tulsi can aid digestion.
Holy basil is a carminative herb, meaning it can help resolve digestive complaints like upset stomach, gas, bloating or indigestion. It can also gently stimulate the appetite, making it a lovely tea for before or after meals.
6. Tulsi is useful during cold and flu season.
Though not often considered for acute seasonal illness, tulsi is a great herb to have on hand during cold and flu season. Tulsi can encourage a stagnant cough, reduce inflammation of the respiratory tract, regulate a fever, and strengthen the immune system overall.
by Faith Rodgers, certified clinical herbalist
Electuaries are similar to herbal syrups, but take even less time to make and can make some of the strongest herbs taste more palatable. An electuary is simply powdered herbs mixed with honey. The texture can vary from syrup-like to a thick paste that can even be rolled into pills or lozenges.
1. Place the dried, powdered herbs in a jar.
2. Add honey and stir to make a paste. Add more honey for a sweeter syrup consistency. Add less honey to make a thick paste or to roll into honey lozenges.
3. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and use as needed.
Adaptogen Calm Electuary
2 tsp Holy Basil Powder
2 tsp Ashwaganda Powder
2-4 fluid ounces Honey (depending on desired consistency)
Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, by Andrew Chevallier
Body Into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care, by Maria Noel Groves
Herbal Vade Mecum, by Gazmend Skenderi