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How to Reap the Benefits of Holy Basil

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Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is one of the most sacred plants in India and a favorite among Ayurvedic practitioners for its antiseptic and antibacterial qualities. It’s extremely purifying, and is often kept around homes and temples to purify the air. Tulsi supports respiratory health and immunity, so it’s especially helpful for fighting off colds, flus and allergies. It supports the colon and is one of the top herbs for headaches and fevers. Tulsi is also an adaptogen—an herb that nourishes you when you’re depleted and gives you energy when you’re tired. Because it supports the nervous system, it’s a natural antidote to a stressful world. Emotionally, tulsi opens the heart and mind, invites clarity and increases devotion—it’s heartwarming! The best way to take tulsi is as an organic tea, which is easy to find in most natural-foods stores (or grow your own using the directions below). Sometimes it’s combined with other herbs and spices, like ginger or licorice.

You’ll want to drink one cup daily for preventive health; if you’re dealing with an acute condition, such as a cold or headache, you could have two cups daily. Tulsi is in the Lamiaceae (mint) family along with the common sweet basil, and, like sweet basil, it is easy to grow and prolific. Here’s how: Start the seeds indoors, and then transplant them to an earthenware pot or directly into the earth once frost season is over. Tulsi grows best in direct sunlight. Water regularly and pinch off the flowers to send more energy to the leaves. You can harvest the leaves a few months into their growing time and lay them out to dry on a screen before using them for tea; if you cut back the branches, you can hang them upside down to dry.

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