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Tulsi, Tulasi, or Holy Basil is a wonderfully fragrant plant considered sacred, even an earthly manifestation of the Great Mother. It has many uses in your medicine chest: it helps relieve fever by inducing sweating (though in lung infections with high Pitta, combine with other cooling herbs as Tulsi has an overall heating action), boosts digestive fire and thus enhances digestion (and combined with ginger, fennel, and/or cardamom helps with flatulence and malabsorption), it clears mucus (kapha) from the lungs and can increase lung capacity. It increases prana (life energy), helps move apana (the action of prana to move downwards and outwards) in its proper direction as well as move excess Vata (air and space element) through the intestines and calms the digestive tract. It can even help reduce weight, blood sugar, and total cholesterol levels.

Make a tea from the leaves to reduce tension headaches from high Vata (which manifests as anxiety) and congestive headaches from high Kapha (which manifests as excess mucus). Sweeten with honey to help with decongestion.

I was gifted a live Tulsi plant at my graduation from Kripalu School of Ayurveda – starting as a small (about 3″ tall) plant, it has grown to about a foot tall and bushed out considerably – I like to make a tea from a few of its leaves combined with mint that has taken over a corner of my yard and sometimes fresh grated ginger (sweetened with honey or raw sugar). Having moved it from its small pot to a larger one, it seems to be sprouting some babies (I have it outside, so I will have to observe if they are in fact baby Tulsi or some other seed that blew in). I hope I can keep this wonderful plant growing through Maryland’s winter so I can continue to enjoy its heavenly scent and divine flavor….

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December 2017
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