Tulsi tea is an herbal brew using an herb also known as holy basil that is popular and commonly used in traditional Indian medicine. It is an important herb in the Hindu religion. Tulsi tea is brewed by infusing or steeping the leaves in extremely hot water. It is reputed to have a wide array of benefits such as helping individuals cope with stress, promoting heart health, and aiding in the treatment of diabetes, skin conditions, and gastrointestinal issues. More study is needed to confirm the medicinal effects of the tea, but there are no reported side effects and it is thought to be safe for short-term use.
Popular in India for many years, Tulsi tea is becoming more well known in other parts of the world such as the United States. The herb used to make it, scientific name Ocimum sanctum, grows freely in the tropical jungles of India and many other Asian countries. It is also cultivated for religious and medicinal use by farmers. The plant has symbolic significance in the Hindu religion and is used in the temples as well as being mentioned in its teachings. It's a strongly scented shrub with multiple branches and purple or green leaves that grow opposite each other on hairy stems.
The use of Tulsi tea may date back to about back two thousand years ago; the herb is mentioned in the Charak Samhita, written about that time, which is an important text about Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional Indian practice. The tea is prepared by infusing the leaves in hot water. As its popularity has spread, it has become available in individual tea bags as well as in flavored blends. The taste of Tulsi tea has been described as "invigorating" and "astringent."
There are many reputed health benefits attributed to Tulsi tea. A few examples include helping people cope with stress and promoting overall well-being, protecting memory, and providing antioxidants. Other possible benefits include lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol levels to help the heart stay healthy, and promoting proper digestive and liver function. It has also been used to assist the treatment of conditions such as diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, respiratory problems, and eczema, psoriasis and other skin issues.
The reputed effects of Tulsi tea require more research before its use will be endorsed by the Western medical establishment, but some of the initial studies look promising. There are no known reported side effects, and short-term use is generally thought to be safe. As with any supplement, individuals — particularly women who are pregnant or nursing — should consult their doctor first.