This special condiment has been long used across the world for its strong aroma. But its uses date back to about 300 herbal medicines that were a used in the ancient times when Ayurveda was practiced religiously across the Indian subcontinent.
Basil or the Saint Joseph’s Wort is a herb that belongs to the mint family. It is native to the many tropical parts of Asia and is consumed widely in India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. There are two types of basil that differ on the basis of taste and smell. The sweet basil, a popular condiment in Italian cuisine, has a strong clove live smell due to the presence of eugenol while lime and lemon basil has a high concentration of limonene which gives it the citrus scent.
Come, let’s discover the magic of one of the world’s healthiest herb. Below is the list of the major health benefits of basil and the reasons why you need it for a healthy mind and body.
1. Anti-inflammatory properties
With powerful biochemicals such as eugenol, linalool, citronellol and more, basil proves to be a strong anti-inflammatory herb. The natural extracts and oils from basil can help one combat inflammation in the body and bring down the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel conditions and heart diseases.
2. Anti oxidant properties
Another important aspect of using the basil herb and the essential oil is its ability to fight the free radicals. Viceninare and Orientin present in basil help in protecting the white blood cells that are responsible for fighting the infection and killing the microbes present in the body.
Another benefit of using basil in your dietary plan is its property to control mutation. The antioxidants present in the herb prevent alteration of chromosomal structures. Moreover, basil helps fight the oxidative stress caused due to pollution, environment, and harmful radiation.
3. Basil helps fight cancer
The best quality of basil i.e. the holy basil contains phytochemicals which can prevent cancer in oral, lung, skin and liver. Basil’s rich antioxidant properties help in the killing the harmful cells and stop the tumor from spreading. The herb is also known to carry properties that can protect one from chemotherapy and harmful radiations. Moreover, in this mechanism, the abilities of the herb also help in protecting the cells and DNA structure.
4. Basil improves digestion and helps in balancing the body and its energies
For many years, basil has been used to reduce water retention and bloating in the body. Basil also helps in monitoring the loss of appetite, kills worms or parasites in the stomach, and helps in alleviating stomach cramps. Basil herb is known to balance acid reflux and restore the required pH levels in the body. In turn, these result into improved digestion and immunity.
5. Acts as a strong adaptogen
It has been scientifically proven that basil herb acts as a natural adaptogen. An adaptogen is a herbal tonic or an ayurvedic/ natural medicine that helps the body to adapt to the stress levels and normalizes harmful effects of stress on the everyday process. Another added benefit of this natural adaptogen is its ability of slow down the effects of aging, due to the reduced stress levels.
6. Basil promotes a healthy cardiovascular system
Basil helps the muscles to control relaxation and contraction, thereby monitoring the blood pressure. Basil prevents clotting and clumping of blood platelets within the arteries, monitoring the dangerous platelet aggregation and reducing the primary cause behind a cardiac arrest. Moreover, it has been observed that including basil in one’s health regime can help protect cardiovascular and respiratory functions.
7. Basil benefits to detoxify your body
Basil has biochemicals and components that help in producing detoxifying enzymes thus, cleansing the system. Moreover, basil’s detoxifying properties along with its properties as an adaptogen help in slowing down the effects and signs of aging.
8. Basil helps in fighting depression
Basil is also considered to be an antidepressant. It can impact the function of the brain positively. The herb has the ability to stimulate neurotransmitters that can help in regulating the hormones.
9. Basil herb supports functioning of the liver
The extracts present in the basil herb and essential oil are responsible for higher antioxidant defenses. The elements of the herb and effective in killing harmful molecules and also help in reduction of fat buildup in the liver that can cause liver, heart and brain problems.
10. Prevents Diabetes and helps lowering bad cholesterol levels
Regular intake of basil helps in decreasing the blood sugar levels significantly. Usually, bodies of diabetic patients are prone to producing increased and unrequired levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Studies have shown that holy basil and its extracts have caused significant improvements in managing the rising sugar level in blood, protecting against various forms of metabolic syndromes and mild improvements in monitoring the cholesterol levels in the body.
11. Basil acts as a natural aphrodisiac
In Ayurveda practices and Hindu religion, Basil has been considered as an elixir of life. It is used to promote sexual function in the body. It is believed that basil can increase libido and arousal by reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow and energy levels. Moreover, basil has been considered as a symbol of love in Italy for centuries.
12. Antimicrobial: antibacterial and antifungal properties
Essential oils of basil and the herbs in itself is found to exhibit antimicrobial properties that fight against a wide range of bacteria, molds, viruses and yeasts. Studies have shown that basil extracts have been helpful in removing stains of bacteria that were unresponsive to antibiotic treatments. These properties also help in protecting the skin from fungal infections and skin irritations.
13. Basil cures fever, common cold, and cough
Basil, or the Tulsi leaves, have long been used in treating the common cold and viral flu in India. The tender leaves are boiled in water along with ginger, bishop’s weed and cardamom to prepare a herbal concoction to cure the illness. Add a pinch of salt and honey to the mixture and it recommended you drink it while it is still warm. This treatment is extremely helpful in treating strep and sore throats . Alternatively, one can wash and chew fresh basil leaves to heal respiratory problems, cough, cold and fever. Basil works as an effective expectorant and is sure to give your instant relief.
14. Basil Aids in weight loss
Basil helps the body regain its metabolism. It also fights laziness by renewing energy levels and facilitating the formation of new blood cells in the body.
15. Helps you get rid of gum disorders and bad breath
Basil is also used to relieve toothaches and it proves to an excellent mouth freshener. It prevents pyorrhea and other dental problems. Oral disinfectants containing basil can destroy 99% of germs found in the mouth. Moreover, the basil herb is extremely effective in the treatment of mouth ulcers and maintaining the health of the gums.
16. Healing benefits of Basil herb
Due to its antiseptic properties, basil can be used in the treatment of ulcers, wounds, and cuts. A few drops of the juice of basil leaves or basil essential oil, when mixed with coconut oil can be applied to give relief from cuts and wounds, on the stung area bitten by an insect.
17. Treatment for sore eyes and eye disorders
Basil works wonders for the eyes. The essential oil of basil can reduce and soothe the eyes. Basil and its extracts (juice or the oil) also help in protecting the eye from boils, conjunctivitis, and other eye problems. If you have been suffering from a lot of fungal or bacterial eye problems lately, soak a few fresh basil leaves in water and use this water to wash your eyes at least thrice a day. Basil is also an effective remedy for treating sore eyes and night blindness. Chewing fresh basil leaves or applying a paste of basil leaves around your eyes once a week can help you maintain the health of your eyes.
How do you select Basil?
Basil can be consumed in both dried as well as fresh form. However, whenever possible, it is advised to pick the fresh form of basil leaves over dried ones.
Below are a few points on should consider while selecting fresh basil:
1. Select fresh basil leaves always. They are vibrant and dark green in color.
2. Never pick leaves that are yellow in color or are full of dark spots.
3. Try opting for organically grown basil.
4. Always look for options available in your local stores before buying from the supermarket.
How do you store basil?
Fresh basil leaves should be stored in the refrigerator in a damp paper towel. Consume these leaves within 3-4 days. You may also store the leaves in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can freeze basil leaves in an ice cube tray.
Dried basil should be stored in airtight containers in a dark and dry place. Typically, dried basil leaves last over a period of six months.
Do you use basil as an essential ingredient in your everyday recipes? If so, share with us and our readers how. We would love to learn about it.