As I type this, I have a quart of Tulsi tea brewing. It’s 90 degrees outside right now, so it’s definitely getting dumped over ice when it’s done, but it smells amazing. I drink some kind of herbal tea pretty much every day. I’ve been enjoying tulsi and lemon balm most frequently lately, but I often have chamomile, rooibos, hibiscus, dandelion, anise hyssop and various mints. They’re always on hand, and always in full rotation.
Health is very important to me. My own, and (of course) the health of my family… but mental health is something that is an acute focus. My extended family has a strong history of various mental health struggles, anxiety and depression in particular, so I’ve always been keenly aware of the importance of taking care of yourself in this regard. I have my own issues with anxiety, and I tend to get overwhelmed easily during stressful times. Because of this, I put an emphasis on “mental health time” and being able to have moments of quiet… time to meditate, pray, do some yoga, or otherwise intentionally focus on being calm and really making sure that I’m not making mountains out of mole hills in my head.
Sometimes, I need a little extra. My go-to’s are lemon balm and tulsi – also known as holy basil. When I’m having a particularly rough time I grab my tinctures, but most of the time a good glass of tea – hot or cold – will do the trick.
Tulsi, a holy plant in the Hindu religion, and a mainstay in Ayurvedic medicine, is truly amazing in this regard. This adaptogenic herb helps to support your body’s response to stress by reducing cortisol levels. It protects your cells from oxidative stress. It lifts the mood, and helps to energize you in a gentle way – never making you hyper or jittery. In short, for me, it’s liquid sunshine. I feel lighter, calmer, and happier in minutes.
Tulsi also has some other pretty cool strengths. It’s antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. It helps with coughs, colds, kidney function and headaches. It reduces uric acid levels, supports healthy digestion, is beneficial for those with asthma, and boosts immunity. Pretty cool, right?
There are 3 types of tulsi: Krishna, Rama, and Vana. Krishna has a deep purple color, and is purported to be the most potent of the 3 types. It is the variety that I grow myself. Rama has a lighter, more mellow flavor. Vana has a mild flavor, but is known for its very strong fragrance. When I have to buy dried tulsi, I tend to buy a blend of the 3 types.
Brewing is simple. When I’m using fresh herb, I just loosely fill my cup with fresh herb and cover with just-boiled water. For dried herb, I use about 1 Tablespoon per cup. In both situations I let it sit – covered, so that I don’t lose the volatile essential oils in the steam – for about 10 minutes before straining and drinking… and don’t forget to compost your herbs!
We have so many wonderful remedies and allies available to us. My hope is that, with time, more people will discover these plant allies and be able to take back their power over the health of themselves and their families. Knowing we have the knowledge and resources to do these things ourselves easily, cheaply, and safely is such an amazing kind of power. Truly.
So, the next time you’re feeling stressed out, anxious, overwhelmed or just need a little pick me up, reach for some tulsi. Take a chance and see if it helps you – it’s never failed me!