Tulsi offers incredible benefits, not least of which are the aromatic scent and warm spicy flavor that alone work their own magic.
For me though, Tulsi feels like home.
It feels safe, comforting, warm, familiar.
It is one of the plants that has been a close ally in my Becoming, especially becoming Mother to both my daughter as well as to myself.
And not just simply by sipping on tulsi tea (though I do love our Demeter blend of tulsi and chai spices). The plant's spirit and energetics have been consistently instrumental in my process of re-orientation in my body and psyche over and over again, and I find it helpful for folks, myself included, in navigating the healing from trauma and coming home to our bodies.
Tulsi seems to support the nervous system in a gentle, warm, soft-yet-strong way that invites that homecoming and allows us to begin to find our footing in that reintegration. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that plants can be such powerful tools in this process since our bodies and the plants speak the same language: Nature.
HISTORY + LORE
Otherwise known as Holy Basil, Ocimum sanctum is native to India. In the “Charaka Samhita”, the quintessential text on Ayurveda written around 1000 BC, Tulsi is described as “the incomparable one” and is considered to be an incarnation of Tulasi or Vrindavani, a consort of Lord Vishnu. It is considered a symbol of fidelity and helpful in attaining spiritual enlightenment. Because of its sacred nature, it is grown near temples as well as in home courtyards to invite the presence of the gods and, like many aromatic herbs, purify the air.
As an "adaptogen," Tulsi supports a healthy response to stress, while calming the mind and lifting the spirit. As Rosalee de la Foret says, "Adaptogenic herbs, by definition, are herbs that are non-toxic and used to generally support the health of a person under stress in non-specific ways. Adaptogens influence the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis and are used to positively address many nervous system issues, including the negative effects of excessive stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, overwork, and more.
As an aromatic herb and a member of the mint family, I think of Tulsi as, among many things, a carminative, which is an herb used to warm up stagnant digestion that shows up as bloating and gas.
Among its many attributes, it is said that Holy Basil opens the heart and brings harmony to the mind. I often suggest Tulsi to my clients struggling with grief and fearing elements of the unknown as its effects on the emotional body can be very strengthening when dealing with fear or loss and the accompanying exhaustion.
Its warm, uplifting energetics are wonderful for when we're feeling slow, dull, subdued, cold, detached, and aloof. If Tulsi does one thing brilliantly (although it does a lot of things), it is connection. Tulsi reminds us that we are not alone, that we are love.
The aromatics of the plant itself as well as the essential oil are useful for connecting with your Third Eye, the 6th chakra, an energy center of intuition and soul knowledge. It aids in learning how to trust your intuition, your voice, and your soul's natural expression. The herb as well as the oil heighten awareness and invite a sense of calm focus and mental clarity.
We love beautiful, aromatic Tulsi for skin potions including masks, toners, and facial oils. It brightens skin and assists in evening out hyperpigmentation and balances skin tone. It helps fight acne because of its anti-fungal and anti-microbial compounds and it tones skin, making pores appear smaller and supporting your skin's natural, innate glow.
As both a hydrosol and essential oil, Tulsi exhibits anti-oxidant, purifying, awakening, grounding benefits to skin, respiratory passages, and psyche. Used topically, Tulsi balances all skin types, but has a particular affinity for cleansing, rejuvenating, and purifying blemished skin, decongesting clogged pores, and brightening dull, pale, lifeless skin.
This particular clarifying action of Tulsi is another reason I love using the Persephone Facial Oil as an anointing or meditation oil - while both the Palmarosa and the Tulsi are calming and grounding, they aren't specifically heavy or sedative. Instead, they invite a kind of focus that allows you to have presence and grounding.
Tulsi's brightening and anti-microbial properties are highlighted in the Pumpkin Enzyme Illuminating Mask where it pairs with Echinacea, Pearl, Comfrey, and Licorice root to even out skin tone, fight acne, repair damage, and gently exfoliate with potent AHA's (alpha-hydroxy acids).
As a tea, I love it paired with Rose, Hawthorn, Cinnamon, a pinch of Rosemary, and bit of Passionflower from my garden.
What's your experience with Tulsi? Is it one that resonates with you? What's your favorite way to commune with it?