Is It Safe To Consume Tulsi (Holy Basil) During Pregnancy?

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Basil or tulsi is a herb known for its minty flavor and is frequently used in Italian recipes. Considering its wide usage in Italian cuisines, you may wonder if it is safe to consume tulsi in pregnancy. This herb has an intense flavor that enhances the taste of Italian food. It is also a part of many seasoning pre-mixes and is served freshly on pizza and pasta. Hence, it is difficult to avoid it completely. However, knowing this herb’s health benefits and risks could calm your concern. Read on to know more.

What Is Basil?

Basil is a popular herb with many medicinal properties. Green aromatic leaves of the herb add a punch of great flavor to soups, salads, and many other cuisines. Also, basil is highly nutritious and contains many proteins, vitamins, fiber, minerals, and other essential nutrients. (1).

Health Benefits Of Consuming Basil During Pregnancy

1. Helps regulate blood clotting

Basil provides a good amount of vitamin K, which plays a vital role in ensuring your good health and your unborn baby’s safety during pregnancy. Vitamin K helps clot blood and prevents the risk of blood loss (2).

2. Promotes fetal growth and development

Basil is rich in vitamin A, which ensures appropriate growth and development of the fetus. Vitamin A from the herb promotes heart, eyes, lungs, and central nervous system development (3).

3. Supports Formation Of Fetal Bones

The manganese content in basil helps form your unborn baby’s bones and cartilages. Also, manganese acts as a powerful antioxidant that minimizes oxidative stress and prevents the risk of cellular damage in pregnant moms (4).

4. Ensures healthy blood supply

The folate content of basil helps generate additional blood that you need during pregnancy. Also, folate prevents the risk of certain birth defects in the unborn baby (5).

5. Prevents anemia

Basil is an excellent source of iron. Iron helps promote a good haemoglobin count and boosts your red blood cell count (RBCs) during pregnancy. Thus, the herb prevents the risk of anemia in expectant mothers, provides your necessary energy, and wards off fatigue (6).

6. Boosts immunity ensuring a healthy pregnancy

Basil is a rich source of several vitamins, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, and many other vitamins. Also, the herb is a good source of minerals namely, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, manganese, and potassium. All vital vitamins and minerals in basil, increase your immunity against many infections, ensure your good health and optimal development of the unborn baby, and help you enjoy a healthy pregnancy (7).

Side Effects Of Eating Basil During Pregnancy

Even though there are several health benefits of eating basil while pregnant, an excess of consumption of the herb can result in side-effects. Here are two main side effects of the herb.

1. Causes health troubles

Eugenol, the oil present in the basil, can prove hazardous to health if you eat an excess of basil. The oil in the herb can lead to speeding heartbeats, throat and mouth burns, shallow breathing, seizures, dizziness, blood in the urine, and coma in extreme cases (8).

2. Results in severe hypoglycemic effects

Excess consumption of basil in pregnancy can result in serious hypoglycemic effects minimizing your blood sugar levels. As a result, you may suffer from dizziness, irritability, and shaking (9).

A Word Of Caution

Basil is safe to consume during pregnancy, however, make sure you consume it in appropriate amounts and not in excess. Also, pregnant women should wash the herb before consuming it since unwashed basil may contain harmful parasites and bacteria that can lead to food-borne infections and ailments, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis. Consult your doctor once before you start eating basil while pregnant (10).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does basil induce labor?

Sufficient scientific evidence is unavailable to suggest that having basil alone when pregnant can induce labor.

2. Can I eat basil pesto while pregnant?

Yes, it is safe to consume basil pesto during pregnancy (11).

Basil or tulsi is an aromatic herb that possesses several medicinal properties. Most healthy women can safely consume basil during pregnancy. You can add basil to beverages, soups, and curries to enhance food’s flavor. Alternatively, you can use basil to garnish foods like pizza and pasta. Consuming basil in moderation can strengthen an individual’s immunity and provide several medicinal benefits. It may also impart certain benefits to the developing fetus. Nevertheless, consume basil after talking to your healthcare provider.

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Ria Saha

Ria is a techie-turned-writer and writes articles on health, with special emphasis on nutrition. She did her B.Tech from West Bengal University of Technology and was previously associated with IBM as SAP ABAP technical consultant. She moved into freelance content writing in 2013 and worked for various websites including MomJunction, Brainpulse Technologies, and Emarketz India.

Dr. Mona Hardas

(MD)
Dr. Mona Hardas is a practicing Ob/Gyn from Flint, Michigan, with over 20 years of experience in private practice. She is also actively involved in teaching medical students and residents as an associate clinical professor from MSU College of Human Medicine.  Dr. Hardas is interested in minimally invasive gynecology procedures, including laparoscopic hysterectomy, myomectomy, removal of adnexal masses, etc. Having... more

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