Holy Basil, the Goddess Incarnate

I began my study of herbology  understanding in theory that many herbs possess medicinal properties. Often plant descriptions are accompanied by long glowing lists of  benefic attributes, such as this list for holy basil, (aka tulsi): adaptogenic, hypoglycemic, nervine, antibacterial, anti-depressant, carminative, digestive tonic, and immunomodulating. It seems too good to possibly be true!

Confusing also are the stories of the Hindu goddess known as Tulsi, at least to my Western mind. The stories are convoluted tales of love and reincarnation, and happiness and sorrow. Tulsi, from whose hair grew holy basil, seems to be an embodiment of those qualities that epitomize all the best virtues in a Hindu woman. The goddess represents duty, dedication, love, and virtue, as well as the sorrow women experience during lives on earth. She, too, seems to good to be true. Mythology vs a real live woman.

Hindus still revere Tulsi in the form of the holy basil plant. It is grown in courtyards,  leaves are used in ceremonies, and pilgrims wear necklaces made of its wood. Tulsi/holy basil is an important herb in Ayurvedic medicine. I adore the tea.

I began drinking the tea as a part of my herbal studies, to familiarize myself with its warming and drying nature. It tastes so delicious, somewhat like mint and clove at the same time, that I found myself easily drinking the therapeutic dose of 3 cups daily. That dose is 1 teaspoon dried herb infused in 8 oz boiling water for 20 minutes. Cover to keep the volatile oils from escaping. My husband also really enjoys this tea sweetened with a bit of honey. Don’t drink this much while pregnant, though.

I have been counting on this tea’s immunity benefits lately. People have been coughing, hacking, and complaining of illness all around me and I ran out of my trusty elderberry syrup. Yikes! So far, so good though. I am enjoying unusually good health this winter. However, I am also experiencing some unexpected benefits that I might once have categorized as “too good to be true”. I have some digestive issues and can now vouch for the carminative (gas relieving) and anti-inflamatory properties of this basil. I notice my stress levels are also much reduced. Neither have I been experiencing “hungry grumps”, the dreaded low blood sugar indicator. There is great potential here for helping improve both my health and waistline.

In fact, I find myself much more positive about my ability to negotiate life’s joys and sorrows, much like Tulsi herself. This plant now has a permanent home in my garden and my heart.

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