A favorite heat-loving herb, Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) is thriving this year in my Texas garden. Well known in Ayurvedic medicine as Tulsi, this plant likes to be planted in full sun, can germinate easily from seed and will produce an abundance of leaves that can be harvested and made into a healthful and delicious tea or tincture.
In Ayurvedic medicine Holy Basil is considered a Rasayana (or adaptogenic) herb known particularly for its rejuvenating properties, and works especially well with older populations. An adaptagenic herb is one that helps us to deal with the everyday stresses of life, which we all handle differently. As one example, Holy Basil helps those of us who live in hot climates deal with the stress of being overheated. I love drinking Tulsi tea as it can help with indigestion, coughs, colds, fatigue and can even enhance normal immune function. I make it into a one-herb, or “simple” tincture, EZ Herb’s Holy Basil Tincture, and I take it most everyday.
Holy Basil also helps with memory, poor concentration and mental fog, so I include it my freshly made Think Plus Tincture, which also contains the fresh leaves of Ginkgo, Gotu kola and Rosemary. These four herbs are a beneficial combination for memory (though the trick is remembering to take it everyday!), or you can take it when needed while studying, teaching, or preparing for a presentation.
Other uses of Holy Basil include combining it with Black Pepper as a treatment for asthma, and as most Basils, it will act as a mood elevator and a tasty assistant for poor digestion. According to renowned herbalist David Winston, Holy Basil can help move stagnant depression when combined with Lavender and Rosemary. You could also add fresh Roses to that formula for an even more powerful effect, since roses are uplifting, work as an antidepressant, helping to open up the heart, and are great for helping overcome grief.
In ancient times, the Holy Basil plant was left in the tombs of loved ones who had departed to assist in the transition to the afterlife, and hence received its name Ocimum sanctum, “sanctum” meaning “holy”.
Holy Basil is easy to grow and makes a great medicinal addition to your summer garden. Remember to plant your Basil seeds in late spring, and enjoy this delightful, uplifting herb!
EZ Herbs fresh Holy Basil Tincture can be found at all four Peoples Rx locations.
Ellen Zimmermann, M.A., is a Certified Herbalist, a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Marriage and Family Therapist and an avid gardener. She has successfully blended these professions to fulfill her mission of educating others on how to best use the plants and herbs we can grow in our own environment. Ellen studied with Master Herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar, where she developed a special interest and expertise in Women’s Health and the herbs most beneficial to women of all ages. As the founder and director of the Austin School of Herbal Studies she offers a variety of programs, classes and practicum sessions on a wide range of herbal topics. Visit www.ezherbs.net for more information.