Healthy Living

Basil Leaf Health Benefits And Uses

Basil leaves are medicinal herbs that can also be sprinkled on to several culinary dishes: thai basil chicken, basil pesto hummus, stir fried vegetables, salads and many Italian dishes, among several other culinary dishes. Even pesto is made from crushed basil.

While sweet basil, thai basil, greek basil, lettuce basil and cinnamon basil are the varieties used in food, only the holy basil variety is used in supplements between 100-400 mg and in teas, as well. Basil leaves belong to the mint family and are traditionally used in Chineese and Indian medicine as they have concentrated amounts of plant compounds. Researchers use the essential oils of basil to test its effectiveness on aiding good health.

Basil is often a complementary ingredient to other spices like pepper, mustard, garlic and paprika, parsley and sage. According to Healthline, fresh basil leaves cut at the stem should only be added when the food is almost done being cooked as it can decolor the leaves and reduce flavor.

In case fresh basil leaves are in short supply, the dried ones are the closest alternative. However, the quantity should be cut down by one third since the dried variety is more concentrated and high intake of it can interfere with blood thinning drugs. Containing huge amounts of vitamin K, it is not advised for people to consume consistently since it can intefere with blood thinning medication because dried basil leaves contain 43 percent of the required daily intake in one teaspoon.

Depression

Researchers from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, tested Ocimum basilicum (OB) or sweet basil on mice induced chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) that eventually caused depression in mice.  It was found that OB reduces cortisone levels, increases new nerve cells and regulated the proteins in the brain needed for balanced neurotransmitters.

Stress

Basil also helps bring down mental exhaustion and burnout. One study published in the Journal of Alternate and Complementary Medicine said that inhaling essential oils containing basil as one of the ingredients can reduce burnout levels. The study included 13 women and 1 man who had given a self assessment of moderate burnout and exhaustion level. The study lasted for 3 weeks.

Two groups were formed, and one was given aromatherapy inhalers for personal use and the other group was given rose water as placebo inhalers. They were monitored for three weeks, three times a day. In the end, it was found that the group inhaling the essential oil perceived to reduce mental fatigue more than the placebo group.

Digestion

A chemical compound found in basil leaves is eugenol. It is responsible for anti-inflammatory activity in the digestive system. Also, eugenol balances acid level and pH levels in the body.

Anti-inflammation

Essential oils relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, bowel conditions, heart disease, the flu and headaches since they are filled with many chemical compounds from basil. Eugenol, citronellol and linalool are the main compounds that possess properties to reduce harmful enzyme reactions.

Fights Bacteria

Basil is an alternative to fight bacteria resistant to antibiotics. It also helps fight bacteria in the mouth, thus preventing dental decay.

Destroys free radicals

Antioxidants are needed to combat free radicals that cause oxidative stress to the body, lowering the immune system. Basil’s two main potent antioxidants are orientin and viceninare. They are water-soluble flavonoids that protect cells from damage, especially in the DNA structure. They also delay the aging of the skin.

GettyImages-1151249150 A parsley crop is harvested on a field operated by the Daregal group, world leader in culinary herbs, on June 20, 2019, in Sceaux-du-Gatinais, north-central France. ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images

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