09-05-2021 / Health and Fitness

Holy Basil: 11 Health Benefits of Tulsi - Natural Immunity Booster & More

Tulsi also known as Holy Basil, is a herb widely found in Southeast Asian subcontinents. It is widely cultivated in India because of its medicinal properties and religious significance. Here are 11 Amazing Health benefits of Tulsi

Holy Basil: 11 Health Benefits of Tulsi - Natural Immunity Booster & More
Mazia AhmedMazia Ahmed

Mazia Ahmed

MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar

Table of Content

Introduction

  • Tulsi, also known as holy basil, is a herb widely found in Southeast Asian subcontinents. Tulsi belongs to the plant family named Lamiaceae. Ocimum tenuiflorum is the scientific name of the commonly found variant of the holy basil. It is widely cultivated in India because of its medicinal properties and religious significance. 

  • Ayurveda, a well-known medicinal system rooted in India, has Tulsi in almost every medical composition in its practices. Tulsi and its extracts are known for their healing properties. They are exemplary immunity boosters. The essential oils derived from them are very effective in soothing our disturbed nervous system naturally. 

4 Different Types of Tulsi 

There are almost 18 types of basil found around the world. Tulsi, although falling under this category, has its authentic diversities. There are mainly 4 types of Tulsi found in India, which are naturally found and meticulously cultivated by the Indian community. 

Tulsi

1. Rama Tulsi: scientifically known as Ocimum sanctum

Rama tulsi is the greenest variant in tulsi varieties. This shrub can grow up to 2 to 3 ft tall. This shrub has green leaves and dark green stems with flowers that can be used for medicines as well as cultivation. Rama tulsi is known for its strong aroma and sweet taste. It's mainly found in ayurvedic ashrams and even in households. This variant has its own set of healing and medicinal values.

2. Krishna Tulsi: scientifically known as Ocimum Tenuiflorum

Krishna Tulsi, also colloquially known as Shyama Tulsi, is the most widely found variant of tulsi. This variant has leaves that are darker than Rama Tulsi, or even purple leaves with purple stems. The flowers are more delicate than the Ocimum sanctum, which makes it easier for pollination. This shrub grows up to 2 ft long. It has a sharp, crisp, and peppery flavor, which makes it an unavoidable ingredient in concoctions used for cough and other respiratory conditions.

3. Vana Tulsi: scientifically known as Ocimum gratissimum

Vana tulsi is the wild variant of tulsi. It's mostly found in grasslands and more fertile regions. Even though it is known to be wild, harsh cold temperature conditions easily affect Vana tulsi, making it the best variant to be cultivated annually. It has big green leaves and green flowers. They can grow up to 6 ft in height. It has a strong clove scent which makes it the best option for medicinal purposes, and the extracts, when consumed, can enhance your immunity.

4. Kapoor Tulsi

This variant of tulsi is more helpful in keeping insects at bay. Its strong scent, which is very similar to camphor, acts as an insect repellent. The healing properties of Kapoor tulsi are boosted when inhaled. This particular chemical composition calms down our central nervous system, which helps in getting better sleep. It can also be consumed, but it will leave a tingling heat effect because of its spicy flavor

Nutritional Value of Tulsi

  • Tulsi is a natural resource with abundant nutrients and healing properties. It is rich in Vitamin A, C, and K. Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron, and Potassium are the minerals found in it. It also has traces of protein and can be considered a good fiber. 

  • Because of these medicinal and nutritional properties, holy basil is known as the Queen of Herbs.

Infographic Health Benefits of Holy Basil | Tulsi

11 Health benefits of Tulsi

1. Tulsi As a Natural Immunity Booster

Tulsi is a naturally occurring immunity booster. It contains Vitamin C and Zinc, which helps to boost your immunity. The Helper T cells, also known as CD4+ cells, are responsible for maintaining the health of your immune system. These cells are a variant of white cells that act as mediators for almost all types of immune functions carried out in your body. According to research and studies, tulsi targets these cells and helps in those functionalities. Also, the anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties of tulsi will also heal any type of infection and inflammation and protect your body from further infections.

2. Tulsi As An Antipyretic

By definition, an antipyretic is a drug used to prevent or treat fever. They help in reducing the body temperature and immediately bring them back to the normal body temperature, that is, 97 F or 37 C. For example, paracetamol. Tulsi has enough anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties to fight against any microbes that cause fever or trigger a drastic immunogenic response. Consuming crushed tulsi or tulsi-induced water will help you to control your body temperature. You can also add tulsi leaves to boiling milk and consume it as it is or strain the leaves away, which will help with the fever.

3. Tulsi As An Analgesic

Analgesic helps in relieving all sorts of pain inflicted in your body. It contains a terpene called Eugenol which acts as a pain reliever. Drinking tulsi-infused water or inhaling steamed tulsi-infused water can help with even muscle pains that might seem so stubborn to get rid of.

4. Tulsi As a Medicine For Chest Congestion and other Respiratory Diseases

Respiratory diseases or disorders such as cough, asthma, dry throat, nasal congestion, chest congestion, bronchitis, influenza, etc are used because of bacteria or unhealthy habits or exposure to extreme weather conditions. Tulsi contains camphene, cineole, and eugenol, which when combined with its healing properties, will help with such disorders. Consuming tulsi concoctions help with respiratory disorders. In the case of dry cough, mixing a little bit of honey with cursed tulsi and consuming it as it is will work wonders in no time.

5. Tulsi As a Stress Buster 

  • Tulsi can control the effects of Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Even Though it can't affect the production of Cortisol, it can enhance the production of Serotonin and Dopamine, which will compensate for the Cortisol and, in turn, leaves you stress-free. Ocimumosides A and B present in tulsi helps with balancing out the neurotransmitters.

  • Inhaling tulsi extracts or rubbing tulsi oil in your forehead can instantly help you calm down your entire nervous system in no time.

Stressed

6. Tulsi As An Anti-Cancer Agent

Much to the development in modern-day science, a cure for cancer is not yet confirmed. But there are enough anti-cancer agents used as a medicine or as a preventive measure. As the chemicals are introduced to your body, they will leave you prone to its side effects. And that's the beauty of naturally occurring medicines, they have zero side effects. Tulsi contains phytochemicals that are known to be potent enough to reduce the risk of any type of cancer. They have strong antioxidant properties which can be considered as prevention but not as a cure.

7. Tulsi For Heart Health and Blood Pressure Regulation

Tulsi is known to reduce or regulate blood pressure naturally as it reduces stress which is mostly the consequence of hypertension and unbalanced neurotransmitter ratios present in your body. and help in maintaining a healthy heart profile. It will be helpful with the lipid content and other cardiovascular disorders that stem from disrupted heart functions. The antioxidants present in tulsi help in balancing the heart rhythm and regulate blood pressure.

8. Tulsi For Regulating Blood Sugar Levels

Tulsi might taste sweet, but it's very effective in controlling blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemic properties of tulsi are very potent in regulating the blood sugar levels of even a type 2 diabetes patient. It might take time to show its effect, but its benefits can't be neglected in the long run.

9. Tulsi For Kidney Disorders

Kidney disorders occur due to the imbalance in uric acid and impurities present in our bloodstream which in turn crystallizes and hinders the normal functioning of kidneys. Tulsi detoxifies the bloodstream and helps in preventing diseases like kidney stones and even glomerulonephritis. It also balances the production of uric acid, which will help in healthy kidney functions.

10. Tulsi For Digestion

Tulsi helps in gastrointestinal disorders like indigestion, bloating, flatulence, and controlling the loss of appetite. Tulsi stimulates digestive enzymes and helps in healthy weight loss. Adding tulsi to your weight loss drink can speed up the process on a positive note. It helps in flushing out toxins from your bloodstream and helps the internal lining of the stomach be healthy. It leaves out a cooling effect which helps a lot when you have an irritated digestive system.

11. Tulsi For Healthy Skin and Hair

Tulsi has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, which can help your glow and stay healthy when consumed. Taking a shower with tulsi-infused water can leave your skin unharmed from strong bacterias to a certain extent. Tulsi-infused oil can help with fungus in the scalp and promote hair growth, making it a potent medicine for dandruff.

How to Consume Tulsi 

  • It is not advised to chew the plucked Tulsi leaves directly as they contain mercury which gets released into the mouth when chewed. This can cause discoloration and can also damage the teeth. Apart from that, Tulsi leaves are found to be slightly acidic, while the mouth is more alkaline in nature. This can also result in the wearing up of enamel (the outer covering of the tooth).

  • Therefore, the best way to consume Tulsi is by preparing its tea. Boil 4-5 Tulsi leaves with a cup of water. Simmer the flame for about 10 minutes and let it brew for a while. Strain out your caffeine-free, herbal and natural Tulsi tea. You can also add honey and few drops of lemon juice for extra benefits and taste. 

  • Another way of consuming Tulsi is by making the Tulsi leaves juice. For a cup of water, take about 8-10 fresh Tulsi leaves and mix them in a blender. Strain it out, and your Tulsi juice is ready! Add lemon juice or honey to this to enhance its taste.

6 Side Effects of Tulsi 

Despite being called the 'Golden remedy of Ayurveda,’ Tulsi leaves have some side effects too! Some of them are mentioned below:  

1. Adverse effect on pregnant women: Tulsi leaves may cause the contraction of the uterine walls, which could be very dangerous and can even lead to miscarriage. To be on the safer side, it is advised to pregnant women to stop consuming Tulsi leaves during their pregnancy period.

2. Negative impact on fertility: Consuming Tulsi is found to have a negative impact on the fertility of both males and females. It may lower sperm count and also harm the reproductive system of women who are trying to conceive. However, more research is still required for confirming this claim.

3. Caution for diabetic people: Tulsi is found to lower blood glucose levels. Therefore, it must be used with utmost care for diabetic patients if they are already taking glucose-lowering medicines. Tulsi may further lower the blood glucose level to dangerous levels.

4. Interconnection with blood thinners: Tulsi should not be consumed by the people who are prescribed anti-clotting medicines as Tulsi is a known blood thinner. It is a good home remedy for someone who is not taking blood-thinning medicines, but together with blood thinners, it may adversely affect an individual's health.

5. Liver damage: Tulsi is infused with a chemical compound called Eugenol. A small amount of Eugenol is good for liver health, but too much of it can cause damage to the liver, convulsions, and rapid heartbeat.

6. Diarrhea and nausea: Some people may experience diarrhea or nausea after consuming Tulsi for the very first time. Therefore, it is advised to start adding small quantities of Tulsi in the diet first and then gradually increase its consumption over time.

Word of Wisdom

Although considered a natural ingredient, tulsi is not advised to intake when trying to conceive as it affects reproductive systems. Be always cautious before trying out tulsi; take small quantities at first and examine your body's response. If it is helping you to get better, they continue else, it's best to discontinue the medication and avoid tulsi for future remedies. Tulsi is the best example for us to cherish the natural ingredients and not run for instant quick fixes, which might be helpful in the short term but not in the long run. 


Reference

Researchgate

National Institute of Health

National Institute of Health

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