About Tulsi

Overview

Tulsi is an essential ingredient in red and green Thai coconut milk curries. It is also one of the holiest plants in the Hindu religion. Tulsi and other basils are woody shrubs in tropical regions, but grow as herbaceous annuals in temperate regions because of their sensitivity to frost.

Name

The name tulsi is a Tamil word for what you may commonly know as sacred or holy basil. In Thai it is referred to as “ka-prow.” It is one of the few plants with two botanical names. It belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae and is identified as both Ocimum sanctum and Ocimum tenuiflorum. Ocimum, the genus part of the name, refers to all basil plants.

Traditional Use

Tulsi is used in cooking throughout Southeast Asia and India. It is considered the “Queen of Herbs” in the Indian medicinal tradition known as Ayurveda. According to information provided by the University of Michigan Health Center, or UMHC, tulsi is employed to increase the body’s resistance to disease, bring down fever, relieve headaches, alleviate symptoms of respiratory disorders and cure colds.

Constituents

The UMHC reports the active constituents of tulsi are found in the stem and leaves including saponins, flavonoids and tannins. The leaves, the most aromatic and potent part of the plant, also contain the essential oil eugenol. Eugenol is also found in clove, cinnamon and camphor oils.

Dosage

The UMHC recommends a dosage of tulsi based on amounts given in human clinical trials. It suggests a dosage of 1,000 to 2,500mg daily in the form of dried and powdered leaves. This is to be taken at once or in two to three small increments.

Home Garden

Cultivate tulsi in your home garden for good luck and culinary purposes. Plant your seeds and anticipate seedlings will emerge within eight to 14 days. Don’t be discouraged by their initial slow growth—once the first few leaf sets appear, the growth rate will increase. After four to six weeks, the plants should mature and begin to flower. Extend the life of your tulsi plants by snipping off the flower buds as they appear.

Harvest

Harvest the tulsi leaves from your home garden for use in your kitchen. During the growing season, clip older sprigs or larger individual leaves to toss in salads and sauces. At the end of the season, before the first frost harvest the entire tulsi plant by pulling it from the roots in the morning when the ground is moist. Hang the plants to dry or freeze a puree of the leaves suspended in olive oil for future use.

About this Author

Victoria Weinblatt began writing articles in 2007 with articles published on LIVESTRONG.COM, the Daily Puppy, eHow and other Web sites. She is a licensed massage therapist and real estate agent as well as a certified yoga instructor and English teacher. She received her degree in natural resources from Michigan State University.