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8 Tulsi Tea Benefits to Take Advantage Of

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tulsi tea

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  • Tulsi tea, also called holy basil tea, is made by brewing the dried or fresh leaves of the tulsi plant. It has numerous practical and ceremonial uses, from repelling insects like flies and mosquitoes to sanctifying the home
  • If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should also veer away from tulsi tea or any related supplements
  • Tulsi’s medicinal properties have been widely researched. Discover the body-wide advantages of this spicy herbal beverage — you may even be enticed to brew yourself a cup

The herb tulsi (Ocimum sanctum or Ocimum tenuiflorum) is an Ayurvedic herb that’s grown and considered vital in India. It’s also known as tulasi and holy basil, along with other monikers like “the incomparable one,” "the elixir of life" and even “the wonder herb.”1,2 It can be found growing in West Africa, Australia and some Middle Eastern countries as well.3

This herb is so revered in India that Hindi households are deemed incomplete if there’s not a tulsi plant in sight. It has numerous practical and ceremonial uses, from repelling insects like flies and mosquitoes to sanctifying the home. All parts of the tulsi  plant are considered sacred; even the surrounding soil where it’s grown is found to harbor endophytic fungi,4 which is believed to have beneficial properties.5

Tulsi, which is a potent adaptogen,6 is believed to have such profound benefits that many people, even those outside of India, have made this a part of their healthy lifestyle. One way you can easily integrate this wonderful herb into your life is to brew tulsi tea. Read on to learn the many ways this drink may benefit your well-being.

What Is Tulsi Tea?

Tulsi tea, also called holy basil tea, is made by brewing the dried or fresh leaves of the tulsi plant.7 These aromatic leaves, which are hairy and about 2 to 4 centimeters long, contain an array of beneficial compounds, namely eugenal, eugenol, limatrol, carvacrol, methylchavicol and caryophylline,8 which may account for the numerous beneficial effects of this drink.

You can buy tulsi tea in loose leaf, powder or teabag form. The Spruce Eats notes that there are three types of holy basil plants that can be used to make tulsi tea:9

Krishna tulsi — Also known as purple leaf tulsi or Shyama tulsi, this purple plant can be distinguished by its peppery flavor and clove-like aroma.

Rama tulsi — The scent is also fragrant and clove-like, and the flavor is more mellow. It’s called green leaf tulsi, although its flowers are a light purple color.

Vana tulsi — Dubbed wild leaf tulsi, this plant has a light green color and a more lemony flavor and aroma. It grows wild and is native to Asia and North and East Africa.

Tulsi’s medicinal properties have been widely researched, and numerous scientific studies, including animal, in vitro and human experiments have reported on its benefits.10 To learn more about this herb, you can read this article, “Help Stop Stress and Anxiety With Holy Basil.”

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8 Tulsi Tea Benefits You May Enjoy With Every Sip

The list of ways that tulsi can affect your body is a long one — it has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, analgestic, antioxidant and adaptogenic properties, to name a few.11 Its active compound, eugenol (l-hydroxy-2-methoxy-4-allylbenzene), is said to be the responsible for many of the therapeutic uses of tulsi. Eugenol may have potential benefits for your blood biochemistry as well as your immune, central nervous, cardiovascular, reproductive, gastric and urinary systems.12

While tulsi’s benefits can be more appreciated if you use the raw form or extract, steeping it into tea may allow some of the benefits to be transferred to the drink. Sipping on tulsi tea may help:

Manage blood glucose levels — Studies found that tulsi has hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects, which may be beneficial to diabetics. One study noted that after being given the tulsi leaf powder, diabetic rats had “a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar, uronic acid, total amino acids, total cholesterol, triglyceride, phospholipids and total lipids.“13,14

Boost immunity — The leaf extract of tulsi was found to have immunotherapeutic potential among mammal subjects. The researchers noted that the “crude aqueous extract of O. sanctum (leaf) possesses some biologically active principles that are antibacterial and immunomodulatory in nature.”15

Ease stress and anxietyCertain compounds found in tulsi leaf extract, namely ocimarin and ocimumosides A and B, were found to have anti-stress effects.16 A test done on human subjects also found that taking the plant extract may help ease generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).17

Improve dental health — Using tulsi tea as a mouth rinse may have benefits for your oral health. A study found that a herbal mouth rinse that made use of natural herbs like neem, clove oil, tulsi and more were able to inhibit oral bacteria like Actinomyces sp., E. nodatum, P. intermedia and more.18

Boost cognitive function — One study found that dementia-induced rats had improved cognition after being given tulsi leaf extract.19

Promote liver health — Tulsi may have hepatoprotective effects, and was found to help protect against induced liver damage among rat subjects.20

Protect against different kinds of infections — Tulsi is believed to help alleviate various bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infection (UTI),21 dermal infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus and other bacteria22 and even respiratory tract infections like pneumonia.23

Ease pain — Sipping on tulsi tea may help you acquire its antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. One study notes that it may be a potential alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).24

How to Make Tulsi Tea

If you’re caffeine-sensitive, tulsi tea is one of the beverages you can safely drink. It’s naturally caffeine-free, so it will not expose you to the effects of caffeine, unlike coffee and some types of tea. To make this beverage, here’s a guide from The Spruce Eats:25

Tulsi Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup filtered water

1 teaspoon fresh tulsi leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried tulsi leaves or 1/3 teaspoon tulsi powder

Raw honey to taste (optional)

Procedure:

1. Boil a cup of filtered water and pour it over your preferred form of tulsi, in a mug or teapot.

2. Let steep for 20 minutes, or longer if you want to get more of the benefits.

3. Strain out the leaves and add honey. Sip and enjoy! 

If you want a more citrusy flavor to your tea, here's a recipe from Kim Suddeath of Simple Natural Nutrition, which she claims helps ease allergy symptoms:26

Allergy Relief Lemon Tulsi Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

1 tulsi tea bag

8 ounces boiling water

1 tablespoon lemon juice (or juice of 1/2 lemon)

1 tablespoon raw honey

Procedure:

1. Place the lemon juice and honey in a mug. Add boiling water. Stir to dissolve the honey.

2. Add the tea bag and let steep for three to five minutes. You can enjoy this drink hot or cold.

Tulsi Tea Side Effects: Consume This Drink in Moderation

A 2017 study notes that “the long traditional history of regular tulsi use suggests any serious long-term effects are unlikely and that daily ingestion of tulsi is safe.”27 Despite this, it’s still important to note that if you consume tulsi tea in excessive amounts, you may still experience certain effects.

Eugenol, the main compound in tulsi that gives this herb majority of its benefits, may be dangerous in large amounts, and may lead to poisoning. Symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, bloody urine and more.28

While it may help manage blood glucose levels, diabetics are still advised to consult their physician before drinking tulsi tea or taking holy basil supplements, as this herb may have blood-lowering effects, if taken in excessive amounts. This could be dangerous, especially if it interacts with any diabetes medication you’re taking.29

WebMD notes that those with hypothyroidism should also refrain from taking any form of tulsi, as it may lower levels of the thyroid hormone thyroxine, which may worsen their condition. This herb may also affect blood clotting, so do not drink the tea or ingest the herb if you’re undergoing surgery or taking any blood coagulating medication.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should also veer away from tulsi tea or any related supplements. Tulsi is potentially unsafe during pregnancy, as animal studies found that large oral doses may affect a fertilized egg’s ability to attach to the uterus, potentially leading to miscarriage. There are also insufficient studies on its safety during breastfeeding as well.30

Frequently Asked Questions About Tulsi Tea

Q: What does tulsi tea taste like?

A: The flavor of tulsi tea depends on the type of herb you use, but according to Fresh Cup Magazine, all three tulsi varieties are known for having astringent, warm, pungent and sweet properties, with flavors akin to cloves, peppermint, lemon or licorice. Vana holy basil is sweet and fragrant, reminiscent of anise, while Rama is more spicy or clove-like. Krishna has a crisp and peppery flavor.31

Q: What is tulsi tea good for?

A: Tulsi tea has potential benefits for your immune, central nervous, cardiovascular, reproductive, gastric and urinary systems, as well as your blood biochemistry. This is thanks to its eugenol content.

Q: How much tulsi tea should I drink a day?

A: Stylecraze notes that three to five cups of tulsi tea per day may be a safe amount,32 but it is still best to check with your healthcare provider, especially if you’re taking any medication or dealing with any chronic disease. For example, too much tulsi may be dangerous for diabetics, as it can have blood sugar-lowering properties that may interact with their medications.

Q: Is tulsi tea safe?

A: A study notes that daily use of tulsi is safe. Nevertheless, make sure to moderate your intake of the raw herb or herbal tea.

Q: Is Tulsi tea good for weight loss?

A: An animal study notes that tulsi may have a hypolipidemic effects, which may help manage your cholesterol levels,33 and help with weight management. However, do not rely on tulsi tea — or any herbal tea  — as your primary method for weight loss. Lifestyle habits like a well-balanced diet and regular exercise are better strategies for managing your weight.

Q: Does tulsi tea have caffeine?

A: The Spruce Eats notes that tulsi tea is a caffeine-free beverage.

Q: Is tulsi tea good for sleep?

A: A study published in 2012 noted that an extract made from tulsi helped address fatigue, forgetfulness, and sleep problems among participants.34

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