Holy Basil: Properties & How To Make A Tincture

Holy Basil, AKA Tulsi

Tulsi, more commonly known as holy basil, is an aromatic perennial plant in the family Lamiaceae, and is native to the Indian subcontinent; it also is widely cultivated in the Southeast Asian tropics. Holy basil is harvested for use in religious purposes, and it is also used in traditional medicine and as an essential oil. It is used as an herbal tea, in Ayurvedic practices, and also has connection to the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism in which worship is performed involving the plants and/or leaves.

Medicinal Uses/Health Benefits

Holy basil is considered an adaptogen (or an anti-stess agent, which helps to bring balance to the systems in the body) and has several widely accepted uses for treatment of ailments and promotion of health. It is commonly used to treat anxiety, depression, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, acne, and imbalances in blood sugar.

Within the last few decades, Indian scientists and researchers have studied the pharmacological impact of various parts of the holy basil plant on multiple systems of the body, including: immune, reproductive, central nervous system, cardiovascular, gastric, urinary, and blood biochemistry. Through this research, they have described the therapeutic significance of this amazing plant in the treatment and management of various ailments and have established a scientific basis for a variety of therapeutic uses. It has been found to protect organs and tissues of the body from checmical stress due to industrial pollutants and heavy metals, as well as from physical stress as a result of physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint and exposure to excessive noise as well as to the cold.

In addition to all of these incredible benefits, it is also used to balance hormones, relieve fever and headaches, support eye health, promote oral health and dental care, relieve respiratory disorders, prevent and fight against cancer, and is also a good source of Vitamin K.

My Experience With Tulsi

I have personally been using the holy basil plant for the last two years, to promote my overall health and well-being, particularly to offer my body extra support in battling stress and anxiety, which is all-too-common in our society, especially with our busy lifestyles and demanding schedules. Some days I drink it in tea form, and other times I use the tincture, putting it in my water, and I also have regularly taken it as a dried herb in capsule form.

I have found using it regularly to be highly beneficial for me personally, and it is my favorite adaptogen to take regularly. This Spring, I decided to grow three tulsi plants in one of my window planter boxes in the front of my house (pictured below), and now I have a whole new appreciation for what is affectionately called “The Queen of Herbs”!

Growing just three plants has given me more holy basil than I even know what to do with, and I have discovered just how resilient this plant is! In mid-June I harvested about half of the leaves from my three plants, and I proceeded to make a tincture from my harvest (the process, as well as photos, are detailed below), and from that I produced 16 bottles, each bottle containing one ounce of the tincture.

I also discovered just how hearty these plants are. In the month of July I was traveling for about three weeks, and I wasn’t able to give the plants quite as much attention as they probably could have used and they were only being watered very sporadically during this time. My husband and I have discovered that the plants can wilt and appear to be practically dead, but with watering (even if it’s long overdue), they will bounce right back and look just as good as ever, making them great plants for just about everyone to grow!

How To Make a Tincture

If growing these plants and making your own tincture isn’t for you, then I suggest not reading further and purchasing a bottle from me using the link above! But if you want to try this for yourself, read on…

What you will need:

  • Alcohol of your choice (I used gin); the alcohol should be 80-100 proof
  • Mason jars with lids and rings (I used two separate, large jars for this first batch, but could have used just one)
  • Measuring cup and mesh strainer
  • 1 oz/30 ml glass dropper bottles (I needed 16 for one batch)
  • Funnel (optional, but helpful)

I started this process by first harvesting the leaves of the plant, using scissors to cut off stems branching off from the main stem of the plant (I harvested enough to fill a packed dinner bowl full, see photo below-it has about half the leaves from three plants).

I then brought the harvested leaves inside and removed the leaves from the stems, before then rinsing with cool water and patting dry with a clean cloth. Next, I finely chopped up all of the leaves, and then transferred the leaves over to mason jars, putting half of the total amount in two different jars. After doing this, I poured the gin over the leaves in each jar. There should be enough of the alcohol of your choice to completely cover the leaves (for this amount I used about 16 oz. of alcohol, or 8 oz. of alcohol in each of the two jars). Be sure not to have any leaves or pieces up higher above the alcohol in jars, as there is potential for those pieces to mold.

After that, tightly secure each jar with a lid and ring; then store in a cool, dark place. The tincture will need to sit for about 4-6 weeks before it is ready to bottle.

To bottle: thoroughly cleanse all dropper bottles and droppers in hot, soapy water and allow to dry. Once bottles are ready, place a mesh strainer (as shown below) over the top of a measuring cup (I used a glass Pyrex one) and pour the contents of the bottles over the strainer, which will separate the liquid front the chopped up leaves (which I composted). You then may use a spoon to push down on the leaves to get out any remaining liquid. Place the funnel in each bottle as you go, and pour the liquid from the measuring cup into each bottle, being careful not to overfill, as the liquid will move up some once the droppers are placed inside. Once the bottles are filled, place the droppers inside and tightly secure. You have successfully made a tulsi tincture!

My favorite way to use the tincture is by placing a complete dropper full in a glass of water, which gives the water a nice flavor and dulls the strength of the alcohol. It can also be used in your favorite cup of tea, or if you are adventurous you can place a whole dropper full under your tongue!

Cheers to your health!

“The first wealth is health.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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