Tulsi Tea: Benefits, Side Effects, Uses
You’ve seen it in the tea aisle and even picked up the box a time or two, but what is Tulsi tea? According to Indian tradition, Tulsi (commonly known as holy basil) is a goddess in plant form, and it is this goddess who gives the herb its healing properties. In Hindu, Tulsi is translated as “the incomparable one,” and the many benefits this herb offers make it a popular choice for herbal tea drinkers.
Tulsi Tea Overview
Tulsi, Tulasi, Thulasi and holy basil all refer to the Ocimum sanctum plant. In addition to being used in tea, the leaves, stem and seeds of the plant are also used in spicy cooking and various medicinal remedies. There are three types of Tusli — Rama, Krishna and Vama — but it is the Krishna variety that is arguably the most recognizable with its dark purple cast. Holy basil is still grown in most households in India, and the holy basil used in many commercial Tulsi teas is from India as well. Those wondering where to buy these teas can find Tulsi herbal tea blends in most large grocery stores, health food stores and specialty tea shops. Holy basil is often blended with other herbs and spices to provide a variety of flavors.
Benefits and Uses
Holy basil is best known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and it is also believed to lower blood sugar. There are also studies that indicate some of the compounds in Tulsi tea may be helpful in preventing or treating cancer. Some of the most common benefits and uses of holy basil include:
- Supporting the immune system. Holy basil is commonly used to treat and lessen the length and severity of the flu and common cold.
- Providing relief from aches and pains. Tulsi’s anti-inflammatory properties work to soothe common issues such as headaches and earaches.
- Calming upset stomach and other digestive issues. Holy basil has vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which increase the efficiency of the digestive process.
- Lowering fever. The anti-inflammatory compounds found in holy basil calm the body’s fever response.
- Repelling mosquitos and other insects. Growing holy basil around insect-prone areas or diffusing the essential oil can help keep bugs at bay.
- Speeding wound healing. Holy basil can be used as a skin compress to treat ringworm and decrease keloids and other scarring.
While traditional healers have been using holy basil to treat these and other conditions for hundreds of years, it’s important to get your doctor’s OK before adding any alternative treatments to ensure you have appropriate expectations and are prepared for any interactions.
Cautions and Interactions
Tulsi is generally considered safe for short-term use and may also be safe for long-term use, but no official scientific studies have been conducted as of yet. Its effect on pregnant and breastfeeding women has also not been studied enough to declare it safe, so you should check with your doctor before consuming it or other herbal teas during pregnancy.
One of the possible side effects of holy basil is a slower blood clotting response, so those undergoing surgery should stop drinking it at least two weeks before the scheduled procedure. Holy basil may also increase the effect of blood thinners and may interact with pentobarbital to create an increased drowsiness response in the body. It can also increase the effect of over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin, so talk to a doctor or pharmacist about any possible interactions before drinking Tulsi tea.
How to Make Tulsi Tea
If you buy Tulsi tea already prepackaged in tea bags, preparation is as simple as boiling the water and letting the tea bag steep until the brew is at your preferred strength. However, if you prefer to buy loose leaf tea, you’ll need to add approximately one teaspoon of dried tea for every cup of water. You can also brew Tulsi tea with fresh organic holy basil for a more subdued taste. An easy recipe is to add 10 to 15 fresh leaves to 1.5 cups of boiling water, let steep and then remove the leaves.