Holy basil, or tulsi,[ ocimum tenuiflorum, sanctum] is a member of the mint family. It’s closely related to the sweet Italian basil, but the flavors are different. Sweet Italian basil has a clove like flavor with a milder and sweeter taste, while holy basil is often called pepper basil due to its spicer and pungent clove-like flavor.
The herb plant can grow to a height of 18-24 inches, and prefers rich soil and full sun. It grows best in an alkaline soil, with a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5. Don’t use mulches such as pine needles or rotted oak leaves as this will increase acidity in the soil. Holy basil is native to India and requires warmer temperatures in order to reach maturity. Grow holy basil in large planters, water weekly. Use the leaves from the bottom of the plants, as these are higher in flavor and essential oils.
The Hindu call holy basil “mother medicine of nature” and indeed she is to the Hindu. The small shrubs of holy basil can be seen growing outside of the Hindu temples.
Holy basil is said to be an adaptogen, meaning, it adapts to serve the body where it is needed most. Adaptogens are excellent for removing mineral deposits from the pineal gland, and removing impurities from the bloodstream. Holy basil has several beneficial properties. It’s an adaptogenic, anti- stress, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.
Other benefits of holy basil: memory booster, fever reducer, headache treatment, increased kidney function, and to balance out nervous energy.
Many herbalists suggest that holy basil is best when brewed as a tea. This is certainly the easiest method of reaping the benefits of the herb. Add 2 teaspoons of fresh leaves to 8 ounces of boiling water, cover and let it steep for 3 minutes. Strain out the leaves and drink.
It’s best to grow your own holy basil, if at all possible. If you do purchase dried leaves, be sure they are of the highest quality and have been organically grown and harvested.
~ Meadow Walker
Source of organic seeds: