Indian Summer at the Hospice

Tulsi, ‘holy basil’…revered as a divine, sacred and healing plant originating from India.

During the last few months of hot weather Jocelyn, our gardener, has grown Tulsi at the Hospice and it’s happily prospering in our lovely grounds.

What is Tulsi  used for?

This narrative arose after the death of a patient on the ward. Their relative required Tulsi leaves for the Hindu funeral ceremony. Unfortunately, they were unable to locate Tulsi due to lockdown restrictions, homes self-isolating, shops being closed. As a significant part of this ceremonial offering, Tulsi was essential for the family to honour the patient’s final journey as well as devoted life-long-faith.

Thankfully a staff member sourced some from their own home in order to help. The family were hugely grateful. We were then mindful that potentially others may come to us and be in the same predicament.

Given that the Hospice supports people from a variety of backgrounds, we thought it would be valuable to grow this revered plant here, where she may be enshrined, worshipped or simply admired.

Rising to the challenge

Head Gardener, Jocelyn, rose to the challenge as always and loved having the opportunity to try something new. You can see the results in the pictures. She said “I really hope that they will be of use and a comfort to those of our patients who use it in their rituals.”

Hindu’s regard Tulsi as the earthy manifestation of the Goddess Tulsi, an avatar of Shri Laxmi (the divine female energy) who is the consort to Lord Vishnu (the divine male energy). Many Hindus have Tulsi growing in their home, where she is worshipped and nurtured. She is considered the holiest of plants and a source of protection. A house with a Tulsi plant is sometimes then considered a place of pilgrimage. A person who cares and waters the Tulsi plant is considered very dear to Lord Vishnu. You do not need to be Hindu to honour her grace, just thoughtful in her presence. Every part of the plant is sacred, even the soil around it.

For centuries Tulsi has also been used for its medicinal properties. As a natural antioxidant, the plant contains:

  • Vitamin A and C
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Chlorophyll

All parts of the plant can be used and act as an adaptagen. An adaptagen is a natural substance that helps your body adapt to stress and create mental balance. It is also often used to help support respiratory illness e.g. flu.

You can find Organic Tulsi tea in health food stores or large supermarkets from Pukka Herbs ‘Tulsi Clarity’. It has a warm clove-like aroma, and astringent taste. With the season changing, it’s certainly worth a try.

Feel free to ask the gardeners to see the plant if you’re outside, they will be delighted to show it to you.

by Dr. Mitali Patel & Jocelyn Armitage