Tulsi, commonly known as holy basil, is a sacred plant in Hindu belief with botanical name Ocimum tenuiflorum (synonym Ocimum sanctum).(5) It is an aromatic perennial plant, native to India but is grown all over Southeast Asia.
This herb, packed with antioxidants and number of beneficial compounds, is used in traditional medicinal practices over hundreds of years. Marked by its strong aroma and astringent taste, it is regarded in Ayurveda as a kind of ‘elixir of life’. (4)Aromatic, delicious, beautiful and satvik herb, Tulsi increases ojas and prana.
Powerful antioxidants in Tulsi
Eugenol: It is a terpene with pain-relieving properties.
Ursolic and rosmarinic acid: These are compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties.
Apigenin: It is a flavonoid that helps the body remove waste at the cellular level.
Lutein: It is an antioxidant carotenoid important for eye health.
Ocimumosides A and B: These are the compounds that reduce stress and balance the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine(1).
Pros of Tulsi leaves
Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen, balancing different processes in the body, and helpful for adapting to stress. Research suggests, as an adaptogen, it may relieve anxiety and improve moods.
For people with arthritis a cup of tulsi tea or tulsi oil applied at the site of inflammation relieves pain. Tannins, present in the herb, help reduce inflammation.
Tulsi soothes the stomach and digestive system. It improves gut's health and also reduces side effects of stress-induced stomach ulcers.
It has been used to treat wounds and infections over the years because it accelerates the process of healing and reduces pain, helps treat a throat infection and mouth ulcers.
Tulsi can help detoxify skin, remove skin infection, keep it clean and healthy.
Tulsi's broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity suggests it can be used as a hand sanitizer, mouthwash, water purifier, mosquito repellent, anti-diarrheal, wound healing, the preservation of foodstuffs.(3)
A literature review published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine( 2017) found tulsi is beneficial in preventing lifestyle-related chronic diseases, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and psychological stress.It is believed to promote longevity.(2)
As mentioned earlier, Tulsi is rich in antioxidants, which gives it strong anti-tumoral properties, protects the body from radiation, and scavenges for free radicals.
Cons of Tulsi leaves-
1. 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. Also, Tulsi may increase testosterone levels.
2.Tulsi contains eugenol, if taken in greater amounts, it may cause liver damage.
3. Tulsi may lower blood sugar and should be used with caution in people who have diabetes and are on blood-sugar-lowering medication.
So, the advantages of Tulsi outweigh the disadvantages. And multiple medicinal properties including adaptogenic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective and immunomodulatory effects, make Tulsi a powerful herb! (2)
Dosage for Tulsi leaves-
It is suggested that 8-10 fresh Tulsi leaves should be eaten everyday. We, in The iThrive Method, recommend having Tulsi as fresh leaves on an empty stomach to give maximum benefits to the body. Tulsi leaves can also be had in the form of dried powder or herbal tea.