Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), also known as holy basil, is an aromatic plant native to the Indian subcontinent and cultivated throughout Southeast Asia. The plant is referred to as an “elixir of life” based upon its religious and medicinal uses. The two main types of tulsi found in India include the green-leaved Lakshmi tulsi, and the purple-leaved Krishna tulsi.
Both Ayurvedic and modern medicine consider tulsi to be the “queen of herbs”. In Ayurveda, tulsi has been used for thousands of years for its healing properties. As an “adaptogen”, it balances different physiological processes in the human body, and therefore allows the body to adapt to stress. Different parts of the plant, including the leaves, stem, flower, root, and seeds, have all been used in traditional medicine. It is frequently taken as a tea, and is remarkable for its strong odor and astringent taste.
Scientific research has verified the benefits of tulsi based on its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Isolated extracts of Ocimum sanctum have demonstrated specific anti-bacterial activity against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeroguinosa, and Staphylococcus aureus.
Tulsi, which translates from Sanskrit as “the incomparable one”, is also a sacred plant in Hinduism. The two types of tulsi worshiped include Rama tulsi, which has large light green leaves, and Shyama tulsi, which has dark pink to purple stems and dark green leaves. In the Vaishnava tradition of Hindusim, prayer beads are made from the stems or roots of the tulsi plant, and tulsi rosaries are considered to be auspicious for the wearer. During the month of Kartik in India, the ritual lighting of lamps includes worship of the tulsi plant, which is believed to be beneficial for the home. It is thought that a mixture or water and petals given to the dying elevates their departing souls to heaven.We also consider tulsi to be the sacred queen of herbs, and have used it in our Red Sandalwood & Neem Clarifying Masque.