There are three varieties of tulsi found in India – Rama Tulsi, Krishna Tulsi, and Vana Tulsi. The herb has been used for over 5000 years in treating various illnesses and falls under the mint family. Besides being delectable in taste, it’s a powerhouse of nutrients loaded with antioxidants and offers plenty of health benefits.
What are the Benefits of Tulsi?
If you’re wondering what a few fresh basil leaves can do for you every day, you’d be surprised. Here’s a list of the health benefits of tulsi leaves.
1. Boosts Cardiovascular Health
Basil is known to help people with hypertension and high blood cholesterol by preventing the formation of clots in your arteries. This lowers your risk of heart disease and there are various studies that show that it does help.
2. Treats Respiratory Illnesses
Did you know that the humble tulsi is a natural remedy for sore throat and various respiratory illnesses? Yes, just boil the leaves in water and drink up. You can gargle it too.
3. Lowers Cortisol Levels
The higher your cortisol levels are, the more stressed out you’ll be. Basil is known to bring your cortisol levels down and make you feel relaxed. It’s essentially an adaptogen and is loaded with antioxidants that calm you down. And it’s not just psychological stress that basil relieves, it safeguards your body from physiological, metabolic, and chemical stress too.
4. Beats Cancer
Basil extracts are known to possess radioactive properties which help fight off tumour cells. The eugenol in basil has been said to have the potential to beat different types of cancers according to various studies by researchers. Besides being able to prevent cancer when taken long-term, the leaves reduce tumorigenicity and are known to slow down or delay breast cancer development.
5. Soothes Indigestion
There’s a reason basil is popularly used in so many cuisines. It soothes your stomach and relieves indigestion issues. If you’ve been facing constipation or bloating, just add half a teaspoon of fresh basil leaves to your smoothies or meals and notice the difference.
6. Controls Blood Glucose Levels
Basil contains phytochemical compounds like saponins, triterpenes, and flavonoids, which produce a hypoglycaemic effect. This makes it beneficial for treating type 2 diabetes. According to studies, when people consumed this herb, their fasting blood glucose level and post-meal level became lower than usual.
7. Improves Liver Function
Fresh basil leaves give you hepatoprotective benefits. They stimulate the production of the Cytochrome P450 enzyme which helps with detoxification and removing metabolic wastes (and toxic chemicals) from the body. Thus, tulsi prevents liver damage.
8. Helps with Weight Loss
A study revealed the usage of tulsi in helping support weight loss. This is because of its cholesterol and blood glucose regulation effects, both of which end up influencing the BMI. In the study, patients who were supplemented with 250 mg of holy basil noted a reduction in their BMI and lipid profiles.
9. Prevents Hair Loss
Basil leaves pack a lot of nutrition and nourish your scalp. Besides supplying your hair follicles with the required nutrients, the paste has hydration properties too and moisturizes your hair. This eliminates itching and boosts blood circulation to the scalp, thus stimulating hair growth and leading to strong and shiny hair. If you add coconut oil to basil leaves and massage your scalp regularly, it’ll eliminate dandruff too.
10. Prevents Greying of Hair
The benefits of tulsi for skin and hair are evident. If you’re worried about your hair greying too fast, here’s a natural remedy that works like a charm – take a few fresh basil leaves and mix it with amla (Indian gooseberry) powder. Make the paste the night before and apply it in the morning before you wash your hair for good results.
11. Improves Immunity
If your immunity is low, you’ll are more likely to catch a common cold, flu, and various other infections or illnesses. During the cold or rainy days when you’re most likely to catch a fever, boiling a few fresh basil leaves and consuming them is a good way to protect yourself. A strong immune system also means that you’d be less likely to contract respiratory infections like bronchitis and lung infections since it liquifies phlegm. The extracts of this herb have also been medicinally used over the years to heal wounds faster and treat any infections post medical treatment and surgeries.
12. Reduces Inflammation
Pain in the joints, stiff knees, and longer recovery times after workouts are signs of inflammation in the body. Basil leaves beat inflammation as they have a compound known as eucalyptol which is popular for relieving inflammation. It boosts your blood circulation, stimulates the production of fluids in the joints and lubricates them making it a natural analgesic.
13. Removes Plaque
Plaque build-up in the arteries is one of the biggest causes of coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis. The antioxidant activity of basil leaves is known to dilate and contract your blood vessels, thus removing the plaque and lowering your risk of such lifestyle diseases. Research is still not conclusive in this regard and is still progressing currently.
14. A Natural Mouth Freshener
You’d be happy to know that basil leaves can remove oral plaque, according to studies conducted by researchers. This is due to the leaves having antibacterial properties, thus preventing the build-up of oral plaque. Unlike OTC antibacterial medications which come with side effects, basil effectively removes plaque naturally with zero complications.
15. Improves Eye Health
Poor eye health is due to numerous problems like conjunctivitis, irritation in the eyes, infections and inflammatory responses. Basil scavenges and protects the eyes from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress. It prevents macular degeneration too and plays a role in the treatment of cataracts and various vision disorders.
16. Good for Headaches
The use of tulsi in Ayurveda and other circles had been recognised centuries ago. The herb has been used to treat headaches and migraines too. To reap its benefits, you just have to consume it by boiling the leaves or by using the herbal powder in your meals and smoothies.
17. Improves Gut Health
The nutrients in basil feed the good bacteria in your gut, giving you better abdominal health. Good abdominal health means you won’t be prone to stomach aches, flatulence, and constipation. It’ll get rid of the gassiness too.
18. Gets Rid of Acne
Basil leaves are known to unclog the pores in your skin and hydrate them. They get rid of the dirt, grime, and flush out the toxins from your skin, thus cleansing and revitalizing your face. The result is no more acne and your face glows, giving you that flawless look you’ve always wanted. You can make a powder of tulsi leaves and leave it on for a few minutes every day. Adding turmeric and lime juice to the powder and rinsing with cold water makes it more effective too.
19. Protects You From Insect Bites
Fresh basil leaves protect you from stings and bites from bugs and other insects. Just chewing on these leaves and applying on the bitten areas helps reduce the pain and extracts the poison injected. In addition to insect bites, tulsi leaves can treat skin infections too which are caused by bacteria like B. anthracis and E. coli. Making a blend of grounded basil leaves with lime juice is known to help ringworm too.
20. Helps Anti-Aging
Basil leaves pack a lot of antioxidants which carry anti-ageing benefits. Eating basil leaves raw or using them in salads, smoothies, or using them in any dish can help you get its anti-aging benefits. Plus, the leaves have anti-microbial properties too which means your skin looks young and stays that way for a longer time too.
How to Use Basil in Cooking?
You can use fresh organic basil leaves in cooking in the following ways:
- You can use it as a garnish for dishes.
- You can add it to vegetable soup to ensure your child gets its benefits.
- Puree fresh basil leaves, olive oil and lemon to add to salmon as a sauce.
- Use it as a topping on pizzas.
How to Consume Tulsi Leaves on a Daily Basis?
You can consume fresh tulsi or holy basil leaves every day by boiling two to three of them early in the morning. Swallow the leaves after boiling by making a herbal tea out of them. If you’re eating basil raw, make sure it’s organic and chew them well. If you don’t want to chew or drink, your third option is to use a powdered version of this herb which is known to be more nutritionally dense too.
Our readers asked us a bunch of questions last time. We’re answering them now below and debunking some of the myths and misconceptions about this herb. Yes, the benefits are true but there’s more to them as well.
1. Are There Any Side Effects of Basil Leaves?
Basil is okay when eaten directly in the form of leaves. However, it does pose some side effects when taken in the form of supplements.
- Basil supplements may lead to low blood sugar levels when taken in larger doses.
- Some supplements contain a chemical known as estragole which is known to cause liver cancer.
- Besides supplements, taking too much basil oil is known to slow down blood clotting and cause more bleeding instead.
2. How Can I Store Tulsi Leaves?
Storing tulsi leaves for later use is easy. Here’s a simple way to do that:
- Pluck the leaves and wash them to get rid of the dust and dirt.
- Sun-dry them (you don’t have to keep them in shade necessarily).
- Wipe with a clean cloth and wait a week or so.
- After they get dehydrated, just store the leaves in an airtight container for later use.
3. Is Basil Water Good for My Health?
Yes, basil water is good for you. It contains a lot of antioxidants and delivers anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits too. When you infuse water with lime juice and fresh basil leaves, you get your daily dose of Vitamin C and give a boost to absorption of other nutrients too.
4. Can Tulsi Be Taken With Milk?
Yes, Tulsi can be taken with milk and works wonders. Take a few fresh basil leaves and boil them in a pan with milk. Drain this blend to a cup and drink early in the mornings on an empty stomach.
5. Should I Chew Tulsi or Gulp It Down?
If you’re eating the leaves raw, you should chew them. If you boil them, just gulp them down. Don’t gulp down the leaves if you’re planning to eat them raw though.
6. Can I Give Tulsi Water to My Infant?
Yes, you can give tulsi water to your infant but only after the first six months. Talk to your doctor for more information about this.
7. Is Tulsi Safe to Consume During Pregnancy?
No, tulsi is not safe to take during pregnancy. This is because the herb contains a compound known as estragol which is known to cause uterine contractions. This could lead to premature birth and cause other complications.
Tulsi (holy basil) is indeed a wonder herb with numerous health benefits when taken in moderation every day. Give it a try and watch how your life changes for the better steadily.