Basil

Basil

Basil, (Ocimum basilicum), is a culinary herb known for its aromatic leaves and distinctive flavor, which is often described as sweet, peppery, and slightly minty with hints of clove and anise. It belongs to the Lamiaceae family and is native to tropical regions of Asia, particularly India, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years.

Other species of Basil are:
Holy Basil, Ocimum sanctum, which is also known as Tulsi
Sweet Basil, Ocimum basilicum

Basil Health Benefits

Basil is a popular kitchen herb used for flavouring food. It is also widely regarded for its health-enhancing properties. Basil has been a staple of medicine for generations and the herb has been used to treat a variety of different conditions, from inflammation to bug bites.

We will explore some of these health benefits below:

Antidepressant Effects of Basil

Basil has long been considered an anti-depressant. It makes an excellent tea that acts on the adrenal cortex, and it can help the body stimulate hormones that regulate the body’s natural response to stress. For this reason, many people believe that basis has uplifting properties.

Basil to Fight Infections

Basil has been commonly found in a variety of treatments for diarrhea, intestinal parasites, fevers and skin infections. Basil may also stimulate the immune system.

Basil for Respiratory Health

Basil is often made into tinctures, and because basil is an expectorant, it can help fight bronchitis and coughs. Basil is good for a wide variety of lung ailments, and when it is combined with elecampane and hyssop, it can be brewed into a tea that helps fight head colds.

Antiseptic Properties of Basil

Basil has antiseptic properties, and when the leaves are rubbed onto bug bites they can help reduce itching.

Basil as an Insect Repellent

Another outstanding use of basil is as an insect repellent. Basil, especially sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), repels insects due to its essential oils, such as eugenol, linalool and citronellol. These compounds emit strong scents that deter pests like mosquitoes, flies, and aphids by disrupting their sensory systems.

Below we will explore how to use Basil for this purpose:

Planting: Grow basil in gardens, near entryways, or in pots around outdoor areas to naturally repel insects.
Using Leaves: Crush and rub basil leaves on the skin for a natural repellent, but use cautiously to avoid skin irritation.
Essential Oil: Apply diluted basil essential oil on the skin or use in sprays and diffusers.
Basil Sprays: Make insect repellent sprays by steeping basil leaves in boiling water, cooling, and straining the mixture into a spray bottle.
Herbal Sachets: Place dried basil leaves in sachets and hang them in areas to repel insects.
Natural and Non-toxic: Basil is a safe alternative to chemical repellents, suitable for use around children and pets.

Phytoestrogens in Basil

Basil is thought to contain phytoestrogen which imitate estrogen, and may help regulate the menstrual cycle. This can also be helpful to replace lost estrogen during the menopause.

Basil to Relieve Arthritis and Gout

Basil can be used to lower the uric acid content that is responsible for arthritis and gout. Basil can also be used to treat the pain and inflammation of arthritis.

Basil to Improve Memory

Basil, particularly Holy Basil, may support brain health and improve memory through several mechanisms:

Antioxidant Properties: Protects brain cells from oxidative damage with compounds like flavonoids and eugenol.
Anti-inflammatory Effects: Reduces neuroinflammation, which is linked to cognitive decline.
Neuroprotective Effects: Protects neurons from damage, aiding cognitive health.
Enhancement of Neurotransmitter Activity: Modulates neurotransmitter levels, supporting learning and memory.
Stress Reduction: Acts as an adaptogen, reducing stress that negatively impacts memory.
Improved Cerebral Circulation: Enhances blood flow to the brain, ensuring adequate oxygen and nutrients.

Basil to Relieve Jet Lag

Basil can be used for Jet Lag Relief, as follows:

Before and During Travel
Tea: Drink holy basil tea to reduce stress and support immunity.
Supplements: Take as recommended.

Upon Arrival
Tea: Continue drinking tea to adjust to the new time zone and improve sleep.
Essential Oil: Use in a diffuser or apply diluted oil to relax and reduce anxiety.

Basil Active Ingredients

Basil contains large quantities of E-Beta-CaryoPhyllene (BCP) which may be useful in treating arthritis or bowel diseases. BCP is one of the only products that naturally stimulates the body’s cannabinoid receptors, and it can block the signals that lead to inflammation associated with arthritis. Basil also contains eugenol, cintronellol, linalool and myrcene.

Using Basil Leaves

Basil is widely used in cuisines around the world, particularly in Mediterranean, Thai and Italian dishes.

Basil can be used in a variety of ways. The fresh leaves can be made into a poultice, or the seeds can be ground and added to meals.

When consumed as a hot tea, basil can either be taken internally or inhaled.

Basil Essential Oil

Basil is often found as an essential oil, and the product is said to fight mental fatigue. Basil oil is not taken internally, but it is used in aromatherapy and massage.

When used in a massage, basil essential oil can increase blood flow and enhance the amount of nutrients that reach tired and fatigued muscles.

Basil essential oil has also been used to fight headaches, reduce hay fever, allergies and asthma. It can even relieve the symptoms of hiccups.

Basil Culinary Uses

Basil is often used in tomato dishes, and it forms a crucial part of pesto. It is also said to complement the flavour of peaches very nicely. Just a few fresh leaves, or a sprinkling of dried leaves, are all that is needed to add a distinct flavor to any type of dish.

Where to Buy Basil

USA:Amazon.com
UK:Amazon.co.uk

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaime

References:

A. MUTHURAMAN, ET AL. AMELIORATIVE EFFECTS OF OCIMUM SANCTUM IN SCIATIC NERVE TRANSECTION-INDUCED NEUROPATHY IN RATS. JOURNAL OF ETHNOPHARMACOLOGY, OCTOBER 2008; 120(1): 56- 62.

J. VIVOCH, ET AL. EVALUATION OF IN VITRO ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITY OF THAI BASIL OILS AND THEIR MICRO-EMULSION FORMULAS AGAINST PROPIONIBACTERIUM ACNES. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF COSMETIC SCIENCE, APRIL 2006; 28(2): 125-33

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