In this blog, I want to share with you my experience of growing and using Tulsi (also known as Holy Basil) here in the UK.
What is Tulsi?
Tulsi – or Holy Basil – is a medicinal plant found in India and Southeast Asia. Often used in Ayurveda, it is known as an adaptogenic herb. This means it boosts energy in the body and can help it adjust and adapt to stress. In Ayurveda, Tulsi (and basil in general) is a sattvic herb. This means it brings about harmony not only in the body, but also in the mind and the senses. It does this through the connection with the respiratory system. Tulsi is a fantastic herb for moving congestion out of the upper respiratory tract, both from the chest and the nasal passages. It also helps with fevers, so when there is a lot of congestion, Tulsi is a great herb to use! It is pungent, bitter and heating, so good for helping with Kapha and Vata, but aggravates Pitta in excess.
Furthermore, Tulsi helps to clear vata out of the colon. It does this by helping nerve conduction in, around and through the colon. In Ayurveda, vata can promote disrupted bowel movements and constipation. By working with the chest and respiratory system, Tulsi helps to give us clarity in both our mind and senses. Tulsi can be used to promote both appetite and digestion.
Grow your own Tulsi
There are many basil varieties that grow across Europe that we can enjoy using, but it is quite fun to try and grow your own! Last year, I found that my Tulsi grew really, really well. This was probably due to the gorgeous hot summer that we had in the UK, as it was quite hard to grow during the winter. I think I probably didn’t have the right window sill for them and it wasn’t quite warm enough. However, I did manage to bring two plants through the winter, and they are now doing really well. This year, I thought I would try again to see if it was beginner’s luck or if my technique was actually quite good! As it worked again, I wanted to share with you how I did it.
For a video tutorial of this process, please check out my latest YouTube video:
I got my Tulsi seeds from a place called Victoriana Nursery, and I used the same packet as last year. The seeds are really small and cute! Remember that a few go along way and there are a lot in the packet. The success that I had came through using an old food container that has no drainage holes in the bottom, and a relatively tight fitting lid. I literally put my soil in the container and sprinkled the seeds on top. I didn’t fuss about a particular type of soil, so any kind should suffice. Next, I covered the seeds very lightly with a bit of soil from around the edge, then gave them a little bit of water, popped the lid on, and put them on a sunny windowsill. This was the key, I think: the seeds need a combination of light, moisture and regular heat, and a sunny window seemed to do the trick!
The seeds germinated really well, so the next step is to take these little seedlings and transplant them on. I put one lot in a tray and waited for them to grow a bit bigger before I put them in their own individual pots.
How to use Tulsi
We can use Tulsi in the kitchen by making hot infusions or teas with it. One such example is to make a nice warm drink with some fresh lemon juice, chopped ginger, and a little bit of honey (stirred in once it’s cooled below 50 degrees). Add three or four Tulsi leaves, allow them to steep, and then drink. You can also just eat the Tulsi leaves. In the case of European basil, simply add it very liberally to different dishes! If you want to find out more about basil, its uses and its benefits, please read my previous blog