Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, and I were introduce in 2009 by a dear friend. She gifted me a bottle of dried & capped Tulsi in a care package that was put together to soothe me as I mourned the loss of my father and got ready for marriage. So I poked around in some of my resources, liked what I saw about this renouwnd Holy Basil and started a daily ritual. I later procured book on Adaptogens to dive deeper into the fascinating subject. The term adaptogen refers to a variety of herbs or fungi that work synergistically in the body to augment our resistance to stress, anxiety, trauma and exhaustion. They enhance our body's ability to deal with all of these common life qualities. They recharge our adrenals. Simply, as the name suggests, adaptogens help our body adapt. Some common and easy to find adaptogens are: ashwaganda, astragalus, licorice, reishi, shiitake & maitake mushrooms, aloe vera, chlorella and Tulsi.
The unique chemistry of Tulsi is highly complex. Tulsi leaves contain tons of beneficial compounds known as phyto-chemicals. These compounds possess strong antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, adaptogenic, and immune-enhancing properties that promote general health and support the body's natural defense against stress and diseases. I grew some of my own this year. Just a small batch just to see how it would fare. I have not always had the best of luck growing basil from seed. This little plant fared just fine outside, so I am going to plant a few more of the seeds inside. I am hopeful for a bigger batch for a spring harvest.
I have been using spices with quite a purpose recently. I designed a cleanse for the autumn and in doing so I dove deeper into understanding spices. I used a very specific array of spices to support certain organs and offer warming qualities to the cleanse menu. As this cooler season has seeped into my life so has a shift in my spice usage. Where during the summer I use fresh herbs right out of the garden, come fall I utilize herbs from my freshly rejuvenated cabinet. Cumin, turmeric and cinnamon are favorites these days. All of these spices have somewhat adaptogenic affects in the body. Though not classified as adaptogens they do serve the body with quite a few benefits. Turmeric has gotten a lot of due attention because of its anti-inflammatory effects and health professional's more recent understanding of inflammation's root in many modern diseases. Turmeric is a catalyst for creating enzymes that digest fats and sugars, consequently it is quite complimentary to the digestive process. To top it all off turmeric is a potent anti-oxidant which enhances our over all well being. It specifically offers protection to our liver and cardiovascular system. Turmeric adds a nice color & flavor to rice and mustard. I use it often with potatoes and in salad dressings. Cumin offers the digestive system some inspiration right off the bat. The very aroma of the seed/powder activates the salivary glands. During digestion a compound of the seed stimulates bile & pancreatic action. It also has carminative effects, which calms gas production and soothes digestion. Cumin improves the absorption of nutrients throughout your body and has been also been shown to support the liver. Many herbal practitioners consider cumin to be an excellent natural body tonic. Cumin is rich in iron, vitamins A and C. Tea made with 3 tablespoons of antioxidant rich cumin seeds boiled in water with a squeeze of lemon juice and cilantro leaves, then strained, is a traditional remedy for colds, coughs and helps to soothe sore throats. Cumin can be used in a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. Our friend cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant. Some studies show that cinnamon can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Arthritis suffers have reaped it's anti-inflammatory benefits. It is a source of manganese, iron and even calcium. This spice in an old favorite to many of us . A classic snack my grandma offered us was sliced bananas with cinnamon and milk. Try adding it to teas, grains, yogurt and veggies.
All of this spicy information is here to offer you a diving board for some of your own research and experimentation. A wonderful book on adaptogens is Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by David Winston & Steven Maimes. As far as procuring spices goes, buying in bulk offers your spices a chance to be used up and refreshed more often and organic is great. By adding just a teaspoon or two of spices to your meals you offer yourself an array of benefits. The aroma of any spice can inspire your mood to lift. Stop and enjoy those smells, just like the roses. These simple pleasures have healthy benefits!