Tulsi Herb

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The predominant cause of global morbidity and mortality is lifestyle-related chronic diseases, many of which can be addressed through Ayurveda with its focus on healthy lifestyle practices and regular consumption of adaptogenic herbs. Of all the herbs used within Ayurveda, tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn) is preeminent, and scientific research is now confirming its beneficial effects. There is mounting evidence that tulsi can address physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress through a unique combination of pharmacological actions. Tulsi has been found to protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals, and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint and exposure to cold and excessive noise. Tulsi has also been shown to counter metabolic stress through normalization of blood glucose, blood pressure and lipid levels, and psychological stress through positive effects on memory and cognitive function and through its anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties. Tulsi’s broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, which includes activity against a range of human and animal pathogens, suggests it can be used as a hand sanitizer, mouthwash and water purifier as well as in animal rearing, wound healing, the preservation of food stuffs and herbal raw materials and traveler’s health. Cultivation of tulsi plants has both spiritual and practical significance that connects the grower to the creative powers of nature, and organic cultivation offers solutions for food security, rural poverty, hunger, environmental degradation and climate change. The use of tulsi in daily rituals is a testament to Ayurvedic wisdom and provides an example of ancient knowledge offering solutions to modern problems.

What Is Tulsi Tea? Benefits, Uses, & Recipes

Tulsi, an Ayurvedic herb widely used in therapeutic herbal tea/tisane and true tea blends, may be called Tulasi, holy basil, “The Incomparable One,” “Elixir of Life,” or “Queen of the Herbs.” Native to India and cultivated throughout Southeast Asia, it’s considered a foundational herb that, combined with other adaptogenic herbs, can help the body withstand many forms of stress.

What Is Tulsi Tea?

The tulsi plant (Ocimum sanctum or Ocimum tenuiflorum) is a member of the mint family closely related to culinary basil (Ocimum basilicum), but it is differentiated by its medicinal properties and some physical characteristics. It’s been harvested for use in Ayurvedic treatments for 5,000 years and has a strong aroma and a flavor that can range from peppery to astringent. It’s often combined with black, green, or white tea leaves or in an herbal blend with other health-promoting ingredients such as turmeric and ginger.

6 Health Benefits of Tulsi Tea:

Tulsi has been used for centuries to cure symptoms of various diseases and ailments, but its power as an adaptogen gets the most notice in modern times. Some scientific studies have shown its efficacy as an anti-inflammatory, anxiety treatment, and antioxidant, although no large-scale formal research has been undertaken in the United States.

Combats Respiratory Ailments

Tulsi may relieve symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, colds, congestion, coughs, flu, sinusitis, sore throat, and similar ailments. To clear your sinuses, inhale the steam from a fresh cup of tea before you drink it.

Lowers Blood Pressure and Reduces Stress

Regular consumption of tulsi may lower blood pressure and cholesterol by regulating cortisol levels, reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other related diseases. It can also help relieve headaches and may lessen anxiety and depression for some. Regular consumption may lead to better sleep.

Treats Gastrointestinal Disorders

Tulsi can be used to treat indigestion, intestinal parasites, ulcers, vomiting, gastric disorders, and stomach or menstrual cramps. It may also reduce pain from kidney stones and could help prevent them.

Relieves Arthritis

Tulsi tea may help reduce inflammation and relieve the joint pain associated with arthritis.

Regulates Blood Sugar

Drinking tulsi tea can help maintain stable blood sugar levels. It may also improve metabolism and promote the efficient processing of carbohydrates and fats.

Antiseptic

Tulsi may kill damaging bacteria in the mouth, resulting in cleaner teeth and fresher breath. It can also alleviate acne, slow the effects of aging, and relieve the itch or sting of bug bites.

Uses

Alternative medicine practitioners use tulsi as a powerful adaptogenic herb (an herb that reduces stress and increases energy). It may also reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks, work as an anti-inflammatory, and promote detoxification. It can modulate the immune system and protect the liver from environmental toxins. In the United States, tulsi is most commonly found packaged for use as an herbal. In Asia, cooks often add fresh holy basil leaves to stir-fries or soups.

How to Drink Tulsi Tea

One easy way to consume tulsi is to brew an herbal tea or an herbal infusion. To make tulsi tea, boil 1 cup of filtered water and pour it over 1 teaspoon of fresh tulsi leaves, 1/2 teaspoon of dried tulsi leaves, or 1/3 teaspoon of tulsi powder. Cover the water in a pot or mug and let it steep for 20 minutes (or longer, if you want to maximize the health benefits). Then strain the leaves, add honey if desired, and enjoy.

Caffeine Content in Tulsi Tea

Tulsi tea is caffeine free and can be safely consumed up to six times a day. However, tea producers often combine tulsi with black, green, or white tea leaves, so check the package carefully if you want to avoid caffeine.

Buying and Storing

You can buy loose dry tulsi at natural food stores, from specialty tea retailers, or online. It’s also available as the main ingredient in a selection of packaged herbal teas or as a powdered drink mix. Store dried tulsi in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry location such as your pantry or a cupboard and use it within a year of purchase for the greatest health benefits. It’s also an easy plant to grow in pots at home; most Indian households have multiple tulsi plants.

Types of Tulsi Tea

  • Rama Tulsi (also known as green leaf tulsi): A green tulsi with light purple flowers and an aromatic, clove like scent (thanks to its chemical component of eugenic, which is the main aroma in cloves) and mellower flavor.
  • Krishna Tulsi (also known as Shyama Tulsi or purple leaf tulsi): A purple plant with a clove-like aroma and peppery flavor.
  • Vana Tulsi (or wild leaf tulsi): A bright, light green tulsi plant that grows wild and is indigenous to many areas of Asia; it has a more lemony aroma and flavor.

Of the three types of tulsi, Krishna tulsi is often considered to be the most beneficial to health, followed closely by Rama tulsi. Vana tulsi has less potency, but it is sometimes blended with other types of tulsi for a more pleasing flavor.

Side Effects

Tulsi may decrease fertility in men and women, so anyone hoping to conceive should refrain from consuming large quantities of tulsi. It’s also recommended that women avoid tulsi while breastfeeding. Some people experience nausea or diarrhea when they first add tulsi tea to their diet, so it’s best to start with small quantities and increase your consumption over time. Tulsi may also slow blood clotting, so doctors generally tell patients to avoid it for at least two weeks before and after any surgery.

Tulsi may interfere with pharmaceutical drugs, so it’s best to confer with your doctor if you’re being treated with medications for any chronic or acute condition before you start using it.

The Health Benefits of Holy Basil

Not your basic basil

Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) isn’t like the sweet basil in your mom’s marinara sauce or the Thai herb you use to flavor a steaming bowl of pho. This green leafy plant, also known as Ocimum sanctum L. and tulsi, is native to Southeast Asia. It has a history within Indian medicine as a treatment for many conditions, from eye diseases to ringworms.

From the leaves to the seed, holy basil is considered a tonic for the body, mind, and spirit. Different parts of the plant are recommended for treating different conditions:

Many studies support the use of the entire plant of holy basil for human use and its therapeutic value. The nutritional value is also high, as it contains:

Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements. Like many supplements, holy basil is not approved as a first-line treatment. It may also interact with medications you’re already taking.

Reduce stress and anxiety

All parts of the holy basil plant act as an adaptogen. An adaptogen is natural substance that helps your body adapt to stress and promotes mental balance. The concept of an adaptogen is a holistic approach. But scientific research shows that holy basil has pharmacological properties to help your mind cope with many types of stress.

In the case of physical stress, holy basil is known to increase endurance in animals. Animals who had holy basil leaf extracts and went through environment-induced stress scenarios

According to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, holy basil has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties comparable to diazepam and antidepressant drugs. These studies examined the leaves. One study found that people who took 500 milligrams (mg) of holy basil extract each day felt less anxious, stressed, and depressed. People also felt more social.

Ayurvedic practitioners recommend drinking holy basil as tea using the leaves. And since it’s caffeine-free, it’s okay and even recommended to drink daily. The act of drinking tea can be ritualistic and as calming as yoga. It fosters clear thoughts, relaxation, and a sense of well-being.

But if the basil’s bitter and spicy flavor isn’t your cup of tea, a supplement in pill form or as an alcohol extract is available. There is less risk of contamination when taking an herb in natural form.

The Health Benefits of Tulsi

Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), also known as holy basil, is a medicinal herb used in Ayurveda, a form of alternative medicine that originated in India. Closely related to culinary basil, tulsi is native to India and Southeast Asia.

Tulsi is considered an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens are plants that help to adapt the body to stress and boost energy. Tulsi contains a number of beneficial compounds including:

  • Eugenol: a terpene with pain-relieving properties, also found in clove oil
  • Ursolic and rosmarinic acid: compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties
  • Apigenin: a flavoring that helps the body removes waste at the cellular level
  • Lute in: an antioxidant carotenoid important for eye health
  • Ocimumosides A and B: compounds that reduce stress and balances the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine

Health Benefits

To date, very few studies have looked at tulsi’s effects on human health. However, preliminary research suggests that the herb may offer certain benefits:

Anxiety

As an adaptogen, research suggests Tulsi may relieve anxiety and improve moods. Several animal and laboratory have shown its effectiveness, but few clinical trials have been done.

In a 2008 study of 35 adults with generalized anxiety disorder, researchers found that taking tulsi in capsule form twice daily for 60 days significantly reduced levels of anxiety. Subjects also reported feeling lower levels of stress and depression.

A 2015 placebo-controlled trial of healthy adults found Tulsi may ease stress and also improve cognitive functions like reaction time.

High Cholesterol

Tulsi may help keep cholesterol in check, according to a 2006 study on rabbits. Although the study showed that tulsi had significant cholesterol-lowering and antioxidant effects, results also found the herb had no effect on diabetes. An earlier study, however, found tulsi lowered blood sugar in rats.

Metabolic Syndrome

A 2017 literature review published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found tulsi shows promise in preventing a treating lifestyle-related chronic diseases, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and psychological stress.

The review of 24 studies that reported on the therapeutic effects of tulsi on metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease, immunity, and nonrecognition found favorable clinical outcomes without any significant side effects. The researchers note, however, that more studies are needed to clarify the beneficial dosage for different populations.

Respiratory Infections

In a 2009 study on mice, scientists discovered that dietary supplementation with tulsi and clove protected the animals’ lungs against colonization with Klebsiella pneumonia, a common hospital-acquired bacteria known to cause pneumonia and urinary tract infections.

Mercury Poisoning

A 2002 study on mice suggests that treatment with tulsi may provide protection against mercury-induced toxicity, which known to damage the central nervous system, endocrine system, kidneys, and other organs.

Possible Side Effects

Like other supplements, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of tulsi due to a lack of research.

Tulsi may lower blood sugar and should be used with caution in people who have diabetes and are on blood-sugar-lowering medication.

Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should not take tulsi as it may affect reproductive capacity, possibly due to its ursolic acid content. Tulsi may increase testosterone levels.

Tulsi contains eugenol, a substance also found in the essential oil of cloves and balsam of Peru. While small amounts of tulsi may prevent toxin-induced damage to the liver, in greater amounts eugenol may cause liver damage. Overdose is also possible, causing symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, or convulsions.

Keep in mind that supplements haven’t been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. 

Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

Selection, Preparation & Storage

Tulsi is available in capsules, tinctures, powders, and as an herbal tea, and is sold in health-food stores and online. Also called holy basil, look for its scientific name (Ocimum sanctum) on the ingredients list.

Tulsi is often sold in combination with other herbs and spices and can be found in herbal tea blends promoting stress relief and energy. The herb itself is caffeine-free, however, it may be combined with other tea leaves that contain caffeine. If you are watching your caffeine intake, check the label to be sure it is free of caffeine.

Supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. To ensure you are purchasing a quality product look for a trusted independent, third-party seal on the label, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International, or Consumer Lab.

Common Questions

Tulsi is considered an adaptogenic herb, plants that help to adapt the body to stress and boost energy. It is often found in preparations that contain other adaptions, such as ashwagandha, astragalus root, Siberian ginseng, and turmeric, that work synergistic ally to provide optimal benefits.What Are Adaptation Herbs?

A Word From Very well

Due to the limited research, it’s too soon to recommend tulsi as a treatment for any condition. It’s also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you’re considering using tulsi for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.

Health benefits of tulsi, Indian powerhouse herb

Tulsi, also called Holy Basil, is one of the most sacred plants in India and is considered “The Queen of the Herbs” for its restorative and spiritual properties. The herb has been used for thousands of years to support a healthy response to stress, natural detoxification, increase stamina, endurance, and energy, and restore balance and harmony.Modern research has classified Tulsi as an adaptogenic herb, which are shown to support the body’s healthy reactions to stress. Adaptogenic herbs have been used in the Ayurvedic tradition for thousands of years to promote and maintain wellness. Many adaptogenic herbs have been referred to by herbalists as rejuvenative herbs, qi tonic herbs, rasayanas, or restorative herbs. They help the body adapt to environmental, physical, and emotional stressors, support normal functions, and restore balance.Professor Marc Cohen is a long-time researcher and advocate for use of the herb. In 2014, he published a report in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, and his work recently spurred mainstream interest in Vogue India. Cohen thinks of tulsi as “India’s green tea,” and even grew it in his back yard to steep and drink everyday.Cohen’s research looks at the herb and how it helps the body cope with stress, enhances physical and mental health, and promote longevity. Tulsi, he says, also has a unique combination of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and other actions that combine to help the body and mind adapt and cope with a wide range of physical, emotional, chemical, and infectious stresses.In his research, Cohen found tulsi is credited with improving complexion, stamina, and  a calm emotional disposition. Regular consumption has also been shown to assist in the detoxification from environmental chemicals— tulsi plants have even been shown to detoxify the environment and reduce air pollution.Eat it or drink it, tulsi is easy in integrate into a daily regimen. Cohen’s method of choice to to make tulsi tea with a liter or so of water. You can use fresh tulsi leaves or buy organic tulsi tea, Cohen says, and drink it hot or cold. The leaves can be used to make a DIY mouthwash or hand sanitizer. They can also be added to a pesto sauce or sprinkled on top of a salad. “It’s not just the leaves, every part of the tulsi plant is edible and medicinal,” says Cohen.

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