Ocimum basilium is the scientific name of basil or sweet basil of holy basil. They belong to the Lamiaceae family and there are loads of benefits apart from being pretty amazing in the taste of food. It has been more than 5,000 years that this herb has been serving mankind in several of its forms. The herb, whose origin is associated to India and is commonly known as tulsi, was later grown in some other Asian countries. This is because tropical climate favors the growth of basil. The different types of basil can be listed as sweet basil, holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), Thai basil (thyrsiflora) and lemon basil (citriodorum).
The major reason behind the extensive use of basil is that it provides relief from inflammation. Oregano and marijuana (medicinal) also offer similar kind of relief, but basil is chosen over marijuana because the later has tendencies to make people “high”. Research and analysis shows that basil is an excellent source of Vitamin A and K. It also contains large amounts of iron in it. Thus there are several health benefits of basil which are difficult to find in others.
Health Benefits of Basil
Basil’s flavonoids and volatile oils are the two major reasons for its amazing and extensive health benefits. Some of its popular and critical health benefits are discussed below:
Protection of DNA : Flavonoids Vicenin and orientin help the human body in the cellular level and they are soluble in water, making it easier for the body to absorb them. The cell structure and the chromosomes thus are protected. The volatile oils present in basil prevent several kinds of bacterial growth, thereby increasing the immunity of the cellular system. The oils comprise of eugenol, cineole, myrcene, etc. which restrict the growth of bacteria such as Escherichia cole and Listeria monocytogenes.
The health benefits of basil can be best served if they are included in food items that are not cooked, like salads. Their inclusion, apart from the taste and health benefits also ensures that the food is fresh .
Cardiovascular Benefits : Basil is a strong source of pro Vitamin A, which can be easily converted to Vitamin A. Beta carotene is in abundance in basil which is a better antioxidant than Vitamin A. The beta carotene also helps to drop down the cholesterol level in the body. The drop in cholesterol levels saves you from atherosclerosis, choking of blood vessels and heart attack or stroke.
Beta carotene reduces the growth of arthritis and osteoarthritis and also avoids cell damage. The presence of magnesium in basil helps with cardiovascular functions. Magnesium helps the muscles and vessels to relax, which increases the blood flow and minimizing any chances of spasms in hearth or blood vessels .
Anti-Inflammatory Benefits : The health benefits of basil are most prominent against inflammation. It has been discussed earlier that the volatile oils comprise of a component named eugenol. Studies have proved that eugenol is capable of blocking the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme in the body. This is the same enzyme that the other medicines such as ibuprofen and aspirin block so as to get rid of inflammation.
Support for Eyes : Basil contains Zeaxanthin which is another flavinoid that is yellow in color. This gets absorbed into the retina muscles and it prevents the harmful ultraviolet rays to reach the retina. They actually filter out the ultraviolet rays and thereby reducing their harmful effects.
Anti Ageing : Compounds present in Basil also act against reactive oxygen species and oxygen derived free radicals. These effects ensure that ageing and other diseases are also prevented. The consumption of basil also protects from several oral and lung cancers as per some studies,
Strengthening of Bones : Basil is also rich in Vitamin K which when consumed helps in strengthening the bones and also enhances the coagulation process. Apart from manganese basil contains other minerals such as potassium, copper and magnesium.
Benefits in Fevers : Health benefits of basil also extend to the regular issues such as fevers, cold, etc.. Fever, generally in cases of malaria and other tropical area fevers can be taken care with basil. When cardamom along with basil leaves is boiled and then mixed with milk and sugar, it helps to reduce the temperature.
Breathing problems : Breathing related problems such as bronchitis, asthma, influenza and common cold can be handled by using a solution made by boiling honey, ginger and basil together.
Help in Kidney Stones : This is one of the major health benefits of basil where consumption of basil juice and honey would ensure that your kidney stone dissolves with your urine and you are free of it in 6 months.
Preparing Basil Pesto!
Benefits in skin related disease : Basil has been used during ring worms, insect stings and other skin related problems. Basil's roots and leaves are used to make paste and juice to be applied at infected areas.
Miscellaneous benefits of Basil
The herb is known for its effectiveness in the fields of diabetes, allergies, impotence and respiratory disorders. As it is a plant source, basil is pretty low on fat and cholesterol content, which makes it a healthy inclusion.
Select And Store
There is no substitution to fresh basil. One must always look out for the fresh basil leaves as they are of immense importance. But in case you do not have access to the same you can go for the dried form of the herb. The best place to get them would be the local spices store.
The list of health benefits of basil is long. There are also several ways to consume this amazing herb. The sweet smell along with a good taste makes it much better than most other herbs that we have access to. It is highly recommended to include it in regular diet and get its benefits!