Tulsi - The Queen of Herbs
Calm and resilience. What are they? I don’t know about you but I like thinking in pictures, it helps me learn and retain concepts more easily. When I think about those two words, calm and resilience, I see a tree – a grand tree, a mighty tree with its boughs outstretched and with its roots deeply in the ground. It withstands storms and strong winds, bending with them while staying firmly rooted; it gives shelter and shade to other life forms. It just is. Resilience is the ability to cope with all the unexpected changes and challenges that life can put in our way. We can’t always avoid or foresee them but by building our resilience we can find ways to bounce back and deal with whatever has happened. And calm: calm to me is the inner peace that you feel when you know you can manage. It goes hand in hand with resilience. It doesn’t mean not ever losing your temper, although the older I get the less there is to be mad about. It means being able to not over react and fly off the handle; it means having time within yourself to pause and take a breathe, to feel and respond, instead of react. To me, it’s a bit like having money in the bank. If you have good reserves of calm in store then you can draw on them when life gets challenging. The more calm you have, the easier it is to be resilient.
As a herbalist in bustling Inner-West Sydney, I believe that all of us could benefit from calm and resilience in our lives. So to get to the nitty gritty stuff... The herbs that help you develop and strengthen your calm and resilience are all classed as nervines i.e. herbs for the nervous system and adaptogens which are herbs that help you adapt to stress and mostly they look after our adrenal glands. There are many wonderful herbs that fit these descriptions but I’m doing my best to keep this short(ish) so I’ll just mention Tulsi here because she’s easy to come by and because I’ve been wanting to write to you about Tulsi for ages. Tulsi (aka Holy Basil)
Ocimum sanctum. O. tenuiflorum
Tulsi is easy to grow in Sydney. You can grow her in your garden (she likes pretty much same growing conditions as basil) or in a pot inside or out; you can buy Tulsi as a tea or as an essential oil. I’m sure many of you have already met my Tulsi plants (I now have three of them, all different varieties and all beautiful and useful), or enjoyed a cup of tea made from this wonderful plant, or maybe even taken some of her home with you, she’s very generous and likes to be shared. Tulsi is an Ayervedic herb and what a wonderful herb she is. In India she is revered as a most holy plant , the queen of herbs, and has been described as ‘yoga (or meditation) in a teacup’. Instead of listing all Tulsi’s benefits it would be easier to list what she doesn’t help with. However, again, I’m talking about calm and resilience and so it’s important to know that Tulsi is a calming adaptogen, with an ability to calm and energise; to relieve anxiety and grief and to balance cortisol levels. She can lift our spirits and help us feel less helpless and more in tune with the world around us. She also helps our immunity, which is a big part of resilience, and improves our sleep, another key to building resilience and calm. Merely sitting in my garden with my Tulsi is one of the most calming and rejuvenating things I do. Just five minutes with her and I feel transported to a place of calm, of peace and of renewal. So, how can you get your hands on some Tulsi and start benefitting from all her wonders? As mentioned Tulsi is available as a tea. I think Organic India is the best brand, and it's available as pure tulsi or blended with various other herbs as well if you struggle with the flavour, that you can enjoy hot or iced. I have it in my dispensary as an extract that I sometimes use in the herbal tonics I blend for you; you can grow the plant and use the leaves to make a tea, or just put one leaf into your glass of water. It’s also available as an essential oil to use topically or just to inhale; the beautiful aroma is uplifting, the essential oils opening the lungs, removing grief and relaxing tension. Please ask me if you’d like a cutting, or seeds from my plants, we’re happy to share. And let me know if you’d like to buy the essential oil or tea, I carry them both. *An extra benefit of growing Tulsi is that she is brings more bees to your garden, especially for the little native blue banded bees