Posted by: godshealingplants | June 7, 2018

BASIL HEALTH BENEFITS

HISTORY

Grown originally in Asia and the Middle East, basil traveled the world along the spice trail. It has been grown and used for 5000 years and has hundreds of varieties and is now cultivated in many countries. 

ABOUT

Basil is a common aromatic herb in the mint family. Basil plants come in a range of variety and sizes, but holy basil is the most researched type of basil thus far. Holy basil is the species of basil most known for its powerful healing qualities.

 

Holy basil is an important medicinal plant in various traditional and folk systems of medicines, and has been used in over 300 different Ayurvedic herbal treatments for thousands of years, including tinctures, teas, ointments and tonics. 

There are a number of different varieties of basil and here are some of the better known varieties in alphabetical order: 

 

CARDINAL BASIL – As its name implies, it produces bright red flowers, which are tightly packed together and has small light-green leaves. Cardinal Basil has a stronger taste than most varieties, and it can give a powerful kick of spice to oils, vinegars, or marinades.

 

CINNAMON BASIL – This variety comes with a delicious fragrance and a spicy taste. Although it has a spicy cinnamon flavor, it’s mild enough that it can be used in dishes without the fear of overpowering other flavors.

 

HOLY BASIL – Is best used in teas or cooked in dishes. Eaten raw, it gives off a bitter taste. It’s known to improve immunity, blood circulation, kidney health, and stomach problems. It goes well with fruit salads, Asian marinades, noodles, fried rice, and grilled vegetables.

 

LEMON BASIL – Has a lemony taste and goes really well with salads, fish dishes, grilled veggies, chicken marinades, desserts, and teas.

 

LETTUCE BASIL –  It’s easy to tell a lettuce basil plant apart from most other varieties, since it has a unique look: it has wide, wrinkled light green leaves that resemble lettuce. It has a mild flavor that works well in salads, garnishes, and wraps.

 

PURPLE BASIL – While it isn’t as sweet as other varieties, it has a unique clove-like taste. Purple basil is great for salads and garnishes, or it can be used for its aroma and color in dishes.

 

SPICY GLOBE BASIL – This is A smaller variety of basil. It works well for use in soups, salads, and pasta. But this variety of basil actually has a little spicier flavor to it. So if you’d like a little spice in a smaller variety of basil that would also work well in your container garden, then you might like this variety.

 

SWEET BASIL – Has a fresh aroma and sweet taste, and it particularly pairs well with Italian cuisine. You can try it in Italian sauces, marinades, and soups.

THAI SWEET BASIL – The leaves of Thai sweet basil plants are smaller and have pointed, dark-green tips. And unlike most basil plants, the flowers of Thai basil are deep purple or maroon, and they come in a cone-like shape. It has a distinctly spicy taste (almost like anise). 

NUTRITIONAL VALUE

Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese; a very good source of copper, vitamin A and vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium folate and omega-3 fatty acids. 

HEALTH BENEFITS

The main use of basil medicinally is as a natural anti-inflammatory. Many naturopathic doctors prescribe basil in treatment of diabetes, respiratory disorders, allergies, and many other ailments. This may be because basil contains cinnamanic acid, which has been found to enhance circulation, stabilize blood sugar, and improve breathing in those with respiratory disorders.

It is also know that basil is very high in antioxidants, especially when it is used as an extract or oil. These antioxidants can protect your body against free radical damage associated with aging, some skin ailments, and most forms of cancer. Antioxidants have become an important part of keeping our bodies healthy, and basil may be among the safest and most effective sources of these life-giving compounds. 

Fresh basil leaves and basil oil have antibacterial properties. They can be used to disinfect surfaces. Leaves, applied to wounds, may eliminate infections. 

Here are some of its healing properties: 

  • Antibacterial Properties
  • Antibiotic Properties
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial Properties that Fight Viruses and Infections
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-stress
  • Calms the Stomach
  • Cancer-fighter
  • Contains Properties to Fight Coughing and Colds
  • Diabetes-preventer
  • Fever-reducer (antipyretic)
  • Fights Depression
  • Helps Alkalize the Body and Improve Digestion
  • Helps Protect from Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
  • Immune-booster
  • Pain-reducer
  • Prevents Ear Infections
  • Promotes Cardiovascular Health
  • Regulates Blood Sugar
  • Stings and Bites
  • Supports Liver Function and Helps Detoxify the Body 

HOW TO BUY AND STORE

Basil is best used by directly picking it off the plant. However, if you don’t have basil growing at home, make sure it looks fresh.

 

When buying basil, look for brightly colored leaves that are firm and are not wilted. Basil is usually available at farmers’ markets during the summer and early fall, and year-round at most grocery stores.

Store dried unwashed basil in the refrigerator once you buy it or pick it, wrapped inside a damp paper towel and placed inside of a plastic or paper bag to prolong its freshness. Wash it before using it since basil can carry dirt and feel “gritty.” 

If you buy basil with roots, don’t cut them off, use what you need and place the plant in a jar with water covering the roots and it will thrive for many days. 

If you want to store basil for longer, freezing is a good way to store it. First, remove the leaves from the stems. Then carefully rinse the leaves. Keep in mind that the leaves are delicate, so they might easily bruise.

 

If you don’t need whole basil leaves, you can also puree the basil with olive oil, place the puree in ice trays, and keep it in a container in the freezer ready to use when you need it.

 

If you want to dry the basil, you can bake the leaves for two to four hours at a low temperature in the oven, then crumble the leaves, and store them in an airtight container. 

HOW TO ENJOY

Basil can be used in many ways: with sautéed vegetables; in sauces; in smoothies; as part of dressings; in herbal teas; and even to make mixed drinks. 

When cooking with basil please remember that the oils in basil are highly volatile, it is best to add the herb near the end of the cooking process, so it will retain its maximum essence and flavor. 

Here are a few serving ideas:

 

Basil pesto

 

Basil pesto pizza

 

Corn, tomato, basil salad

 

Vegan, pesto, mushroom, zucchini sandwich

 

Spaghetti with pesto sauce

 

Smoothie with basil

 

Basil, mozzarella, tomato appetizer

 

Potato and green been salad with basil

 

Dried basil can be easily added to practically any dish.

 

A WORD OF CAUTION

Basil essential oil isn’t meant to be ingested and should be diluted when used on the skin due to its potency.

 

Basil in fresh form is considered very safe and is usually well-tolerated since it doesn’t commonly cause allergic reactions or side effects in most people. But there are some risks for certain groups of people. 

If you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breast-feeding, it’s a good idea to avoid basil. 

Basil oils or supplements might also interact with cholesterol-lowering medications and diabetic medications, so if you’re currently taking prescriptions for these conditions, you’ll want to speak with a doctor before taking basil supplements.

 

SOURCES 

www.draxe.com

www.wellnessmama.com

REFERENCES

  • Bagamboula CF, Uyttendaeleand M, Debevere J. Inhibitory effect of thyme and basil essential oils, carvacrol, thymol, estragol, linalool and p-cymene towards Shigella sonnei and S. flexneri. Food Microbio 2004 Feb;21 (1):33-42. 2004.
  • Calucci L, Pinzino C, Zandomeneghi M et al. Effects of gamma-irradiation on the free radical and antioxidant contents in nine aromatic herbs and spices. J Agric Food Chem 2003 Feb 12; 51(4):927-34. 2003.
  • Elgayyar M, Draughon FA, Golden DA, Mount JR. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils from plants against selected pathogenic and saprophytic microorganisms. J Food Prot 2001 Jul;64(7):1019-24. 2001. PMID:12650.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210.
  • Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York. 1996.
  • Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Dover Publications, New York. 1971.
  • Opalchenova G, Obreshkova D. Comparative studies on the activity of basil–an essential oil from Ocimum basilicum L.–against multidrug resistant clinical isolates of the genera Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas by usi. J Microbiol Methods. Jul;54(1):105-10. 2003.
  • Orafidiya LO, Oyedele AO, Shittu AO, Elujoba AA. The formulation of an effective topical antibacterial product containing Ocimum gratissimum leaf essential oil. Int J Pharm 2001 Aug 14;224(1-2):177-83. 2001. PMID:12640.
  • Singh A, Singh SP, Bamezai R. Modulatory potential of clocimum oil on mouse skin papillomagenesis and the xenobiotic detoxication system. Food Chem Toxicol 1999 Jun;37(6):663-70. 1999. PMID:12670.
  • Uma Devi P. Radioprotective, anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties of the Indian holy basil, Ocimum sanctum (Tulasi). Indian J Exp Biol 2001 Mar; 39(3):185-90. 2001. PMID:12630.
  • Vrinda B, Uma Devi P. Radiation protection of human lymphocyte chromosomes in vitro by orientin and vicenin. Mutat Res 2001 Nov 15;498(1-2):39-46. 2001. PMID: 12620.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988. PMID:15220.
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