Herbal Allies: Tulsi

As cannabis culture straddles the diminishing divide between pleasure and physical healing, enthusiasm for this plant’s medicinal properties comes more to the fore while some of cannabis’s ego wears off.

Cannabis is a giver of relaxation, great moods and relief from chronic conditions. It’s hard to ignore the effects of CBD on epilepsy, for example, or the way hemp soothes aggravated skin.

With this territory of acceptance arrives the opportunity to explore a wide world of alternative medicine, from yoga and meditation to other herbal remedies. Cannabis is, after all, just one plant.

Just as CBD works in conjunction with THC, there are plenty of friendly herbs skilled at restoring the body in ways cannabis cannot. Some provide relief from marijuana’s few sticky side-effects.

One of these herbs is tulsi, a peppery basil plant that’s native to India. Tulsi is sacred in Hindu culture, and a longstanding powerhouse in Ayurvedic medicine. More commonly referred to as “holy basil” in the West, tulsi is used medicinally across the globe for everything from coughs and colds to skin aggravations, but particularly for conditions derived from stress.

Considered an adaptogen (a potent, restorative herb that maintains wellness), tulsi is shown to strengthen the immune system, balance cortisol, and alleviate anxiety by restoring the body’s stress response. But it’s not just a potent revitalizer with thousands of years of success under its wing; it’s a great companion to marijuana.

Cannabis companies have already cottoned onto this, blending the three types of tulsi (rama, krishna, and vana) into teas and tinctures. Tulsi is used to treat conditions cannabis is also prescribed for — like PTSD — and illnesses cannabinoids cannot treat alone, like respiratory diseases. Consumed alongside a high dose of CBD, tulsi enhances the calming and pain-relieving effects of that cannabinoid. Taken with high-potency strains, it counteracts the likelihood of tension and paranoia.

Both these plants are considered spiritual herbs, and are held in high regard in many cultures. These plants can also can be used to counter a number of illnesses, though their medicinal qualities work in different ways. According to numerous clinical studies, both also put similar terpenes to work on the brain — beta-caryophyllene for example.

Tulsi can be easily dosed as a tincture or consumed as a hot or cold tea. Sipping tulsi is recommended, for this sweet, spicy, slightly minty basil variety has a lively taste. Use tulsi solo to ward of colds or to counteract stress, or combine it with a cannabis product to alleviate nervousness.

Cannabis might be considered the queen of euphoric herbs, but there’s a lot of room in that castle for other ways to feel good. We might celebrate cannabis more often than all the other leaves, roots, and fungi that provide relief, but that doesn’t mean cannabis doesn’t blend in. In fact, the things we don’t like about cannabis use (like occasional anxiety and sore lungs) can be soothed away by bringing other herbs, like tulsi, into play.

And why not? Cannabis could use some friends. The way things are going, the modern dispensary may end up looking more like an apothecary with a flower menu that extends beyond sativas and indicas to a galaxy of relief, which incorporates many styles of healing.


Written by Regan Crisp

Emerald contributor since March 2012


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