Pregnancy is a time of being cautious about the diet. It is important to eat well and also be healthy. One should include a lot of fruits as well as vegetables. A very famous herb that one needs to ponder over is Basil or Tulsi. A lot of expecting women think it is healthy to eat holy basil during pregnancy, and given it medicinal nature, they are quite right. But how safe is tulsi during pregnancy? It is important to understand the tulsi leaves benefits or how many tulsi leaves should be eaten in a day?
To give you a background, there are three varieties of tulsi found in India – Rama Tulsi, Vana Tulsi, and Krishna Tulsi. Tulsi belongs to the family of mint. This herb has been used for almost 5000 years in the treatment of different ailments. It is not only tasty but even a nutrient powerhouse. It is loaded with antioxidants and a plethora of health benefits.
What Is Holy Basil (Tulsi)?
Tulsi or Holy Basil is a popular herb that is widely used for its medicinal properties. Its green aromatic leaves and mint flavor add great taste to all sorts of food like salads, soups, etc. It has a good nutrient value since it has vitamins, fiber, minerals, proteins, etc. Due to this, it is even popular as a superfood during pregnancy. The leaves should only be taken in smaller quantities to be safe during pregnancy. Drinking tulsi water is a custom in many traditions. A common question asked is “Is tulsi water during pregnancy safe”?
Research states that basil, if given to an expectant mother excessively, no matter in what form, can lead to miscarriage or preterm delivery. This, however, has no scientific basis. Yet, consuming it in moderate quantities is beneficial but avoid having too much of it to be on safe side. Pregnancy is not the time to experiment.
Related Reading :18 Foods That Can Cause Miscarriage In Early Pregnancy
Is It Safe To Consume Tulsi During Pregnancy?
You may find your relatives and friends suggesting that you take Tulsi for a variety of health issues, especially for colds and coughs. There is not much evidence of not using Tulsi during pregnancy. It also means basil during pregnancy third trimester, or tulsi during pregnancy first trimester is not a safe bet. One also questions ” how many tulsi leaves should be eaten in a day”. There are no direct answers yet a few research states the following which can help with answering the questions1.
- Eating Tulsi during pregnancy can stimulate the blood flow to the pelvic area and the uterus, resulting in contractions
- Consuming Tulsi can also increase the risk of bleeding at the time of surgery since it slows blood clotting
- It is best to stop having Tulsi two weeks before the surgery; vaginal, cesarean, or episiotomy
However, doctors prefer to be on the safe side and do not permit women to consume Tulsi under these conditions2:
- When pregnant
- Trying to conceive
Therefore, it is better to avoid taking large quantities of basil leaves during pregnancy. Tulsi tea can be made by using a few leaves once in a while and occasionally enjoyed. Consuming it regularly, however, is not recommended.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Consuming Tulsi During Pregnancy?
The herb Tulsi as suggested above can be taken in moderate quantities as it is a superfood. Top Tulsi leaves benefits associated with pregnancy are as follows:
1. Aids in fetal bone formation
Holy basil or Tulsi has manganese that is good for the development of the bones and cartilages of the fetus. It is also a great antioxidant that helps in reducing any oxidative stress, minimizing the chances of cellular damage to the expectant mother, according to a source.
Related Reading: 18 Foods To Eat To Increase Fetal Weight During Pregnancy
2. Supports healthy development and growth of the baby
Vitamin A in tulsi or holy basil also aids in the effective growth and development of the baby. It also promotes the growth of the eyes, lungs, heart, and nervous system.3
3. Proper blood supply
Folate present in basil is good for the generation of additional blood that is required during pregnancy. It even prevents the birth anomalies present in the developing baby.4
4. Averts anaemia
Basil leaves are a good source of iron which helps maintain healthy hemoglobin levels. This in turn boosts the red blood cells during pregnancy. 5
5. Provides the much-needed immunity boost
Due to the presence of vitamins in basil like Vitamin C, E, Niacin, Riboflavin the immunity levels are increased which also helps prevent or fight infections during pregnancy. An improved immune system during pregnancy ensure the healthy growth and development of the baby. 6
6. Cleanses your system
Basil has antioxidants known as flavonoids which help in cleansing the system by getting rid of toxins from the body.7
Related Reading: What Teas Are Safe To Drink While Pregnant?
Side Effects of Consuming Tulsi During Pregnancy
Although there are numerous benefits of consuming basil during your pregnancy period, overeating basil leaves or side effects of tulsi during pregnancy can lead to adverse effects on the body. Some risks that can be related to excessive consumption of this herb are:
1. Can trigger health issues
One of the oils which are Eugenol is found in Basil and it is harmful to the health as it can trigger the pace of heartbeat, lead to shallow breathing, and also lead to burning in the mouth as well as throat. In extreme cases, it even results in bleeding while urinating, also can lead a person to a coma8.
2. May cause hypoglycemic fffects
If basil is taken in excess, one can have the risk of hypoglycemic effects that are known to lower the blood sugar level leading to tremors, irritability, or dizziness.9
3. Tulsi during pregnancy can cause uterine contractions
Consuming Tulsi can even lead to uterine contractions, though nothing has been proven studies are going around the same. This is also the reason why some doctors advise avoiding having this herb during pregnancy and even while lactating.10
4. Basil Leaves Can Induce Blood Thinning Effects
Tulsi can even lead to thinning of blood so it should be avoided by anyone who has issues with a blood clotting disorder. If not avoided, it can result in prolonged episodes of bleeding. This is also the reason why it is not advisable for pregnant women in the last leg of pregnancy.11
Precautions When Consuming Tulsi During Pregnancy
Basil is safe to consume during pregnancy if taken in moderation or as advised by the doctors. There are however few precautions that are a mandate and should always be followed to be safe and reap the good benefits of it. Some of them are:
- Pregnant women must wash the herb before consumption as it contains harmful parasites and bacteria. These bacterias can lead to food-borne infections and ailments, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis.
- It is important to wash the leaves thoroughly under running water before consumption
- It is very important to limit the intake and consume it in moderate amounts. No set dosage has been given but a few research suggest having 115 ml of basil leaves extract thrice daily may not cause harm (source). Exceeding this limit can be detrimental to the health of the mother and the baby
Related Reading: Top 11 Precautions To Take In The First Trimester Of Pregnancy
Drinking Tulsi Tea During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time for cravings. In case of craving herbal tea, opt for safer options like peppermint tea, green tea, chamomile tea, etc. If you ask “Is tulsi tea safe during pregnancy”? the answer is tulsi tea during pregnancy is a good option but not in excess. It is however important to not increase the caffeine intake exceeding 200 mg daily12.
Some benefits that one gets from having Tulsi tea in pregnancy are:
- It has zero caffeine which should be avoided in pregnancy
- It has detoxifying properties that keep the lungs and heart safe and free from infections or ailments
- It has antioxidants that make the immune system stronger
- It helps in relieving inflammation which is common during pregnancy
- It destresses the body by releasing the happy hormone called serotonin through the body and calms down as well
There are conflicting views13 on the same and clinical tests are still on. Few tests report it is harmful while the others suggest it helps in preventing vomiting, indigestion, and back pain. It is good for fighting against cough and cold, promotes healthy blood supply, growth of the fetus, etc.
Preparation of Tulsi tea
This tea is beneficial if taken in moderate amounts. Its process is as follows:
- Boil water and add a handful of tulsi leaves and leave for five minutes.
- Add lemon juice or honey for sweetening
- Serve it hot
As mentioned before, to be on the safer side, if it is consumed in small amounts even Tulsi tea is safe during pregnancy, but it is best to consult a doctor before going ahead and adding it to your pregnancy diet schedule.
Thus, it is best to consult the doctor before including this herb in your pregnancy. No one is better at understanding the body condition of a pregnant woman than her doctor. Upon evaluating the pregnancy state, he will advise the appropriate diet. If required the doctor can even recommend some alternative or a safe dosage that does not obstruct the healthy growth and development of the baby.
Yes, this herb has vitamin A and manganese that are crucial for the development of the fetus. Yet one mustn’t overconsume it.
This herb is popular and most home remedies are made with it. Tulsi leaves can stimulate the flow of blood to the uterus and pelvic area, leading to contractions. Not much evidence has however been started for or against its usage in pregnancy yet medical health experts believe that one should stop consuming it two weeks in an advance post a cesarean surgery, vaginal birth, etc.
If one is consuming a couple of leaves, it is safe. Yet it is best to consult a doctor before its consumption as many doctors are not in favor of giving Tulsi during pregnancy.
Basil oil cannot be used during pregnancy. Basil oil is a potential hazard for a fetus since it is believed to contribute to abnormal cell development. Basil leaves contain a sulfur-containing oil called eugenol, which can pose a serious threat to the health of growing fetuses. It is therefore recommended that pregnant women refrain from using basil oil.