Herb Spotlight: Tulsi

The Queen of Herbs is just one of the names for Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum L). This perennial herb is native to the Indian subcontinent and also grows well in my southwestern PA garden. It grows up to 1 meter (or over 3 feet) tall. The plant is purplish in color with narrow oval leaves. The leaves are green and purple and are in opposite pairs on a slightly hairy stem. The flowers bloom in mid-summer.

This pungent and bitter herb (1) has both warming and cooling effects. Often Tulsi is used for its anti-inflammatory as well as adaptogenic properties. (2,3)

It is included in both Serenity Meadows and Morning Harmony because it is an adaptogen, meaning it helps to balance the body especially in terms of the effects of stress. (3) Tulsi does this by lowering levels of oxidative stress and free radicals from chronic stress conditions (4), supporting mild blood thinning to help the liver’s metabolic functions, and eases mild indigestion. (5,1)

In India, Tulsi has been used to balance chakra energy, specifically the third eye chakra. The plant is believed to provide protection for homes around which it is planted and is regarded as a sacred plant. Malas can be made from the woody stems and worn around the neck or wrist. (5)

There are no known contraindications though as always, consult with a trained professional on your specific situation if you have any questions about the herb.


  1. Holy Basil- Medicinal Uses (Posted on May 20, 2010) Herbalpedia. Retrieved from http://www.herbalpedia.com/blog/?p=22

  2. Holy Basil (Last reviewed April 21, 2015) University of Michigan Health System. Retrieved from http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-4597000

  3. Unravelling the genome of Holy basil: an “incomparable” “elixir of life” of traditional Indian medicine. Shubhra Rastogi, Alok Kalra, Vikrant Gupta, Feroz Khan, Raj Kishori Lal, Anil Kumar, Tripathi, Sriram Parameswaran, Chellappa Gopalakrishnan, Gopalakrishna Ramaswamy, Ajit Kumar Shasany. Published BMC Genomics 2015, 16:413. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2164/16/413

  4. Holy basil – a key herb for stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Joanna Sochan. Published September 2014 (Retrieved on October 17, 2015) Retrieved fromhttp://naturimedica.com/holy-basil-key-herb-stress-anxiety-depression-fatigue/

  5. Maimes Report on Holy Basil. Steven Maimes. Version 1 November 2004 SALAM Research. (Retrieved on October 23, 2015) Retrieved from http://www.researchgate.net/publication/230634694_Maimes_Report_on_Holy_Basil