basilCredit: Charles Rondeau

A lot of today’s gourmet recipes use basil to bring forth an exotic flavor. But, did you know that this herb does not only add flavor to your meals? This herb can also increase your recipe’s nutrient value and offer tons of health benefits. An added bonus is that you can also use this herb as a home remedy  for various ailments and discomforts. So, what are the medicinal uses and health benefits of basil? 

Health benefits of basil

Being a plant rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene, basil is well-known for its ability to prevent the free radicals from causing havoc inside your body. As you know, free radicals will not only hasten your aging process. It can also alter your DNA, resulting in cancer. Thus, one of the health benefits of basil is preventing cancer and premature aging. Along with that, this herb can also help strengthen your immune system against common colds and cough.

Magnesium is another vital nutrient found in this herb. This mineral is essential for your heart's health  by relaxing your heart muscles and blood vessels. Hence, it can help regulate blood flow and lessen your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. The beta-carotene present in basil can also help lower cholesterol levels, which lead to a healthy heart. 

Aside from those benefits, several studies have also shown that you can use this herb to enhance your memory and to relieve stress

Lastly, basil is also rich in iron and vitamin K, which are essential to your blood. Other valuable nutrients found in this herb are calcium and potassium. 

 

Medicinal uses of basil

boiled leavesCredit: Marina Shemesh

After presenting the various health benefits of basil, let’s move on to the medicinal uses of this herb. So, in what ailments or discomforts can you use this herb? Actually, you can use this aromatic plant in several ways. Here is a list of the therapeutic uses of basil.

  1. Pain and inflammation – Eugenol is a compound present in basil that can relieve both pain and swelling. Basically, the herb's analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects are comparable to aspirin and ibuprofen, which is preventing the effects of the enzymes cyclooxygenase-1 and 2. To reap these healing properties, you can either boil the leaves and take a few teaspoons or rub the leaves on the affected area.
  2. Skin problems – The juice of this herb is also effective in treating ringworm and insect bites. It has also been successfully used in treating vitiligo caused by fungus.Medicinal and Health Benefits of BasilCredit: Image courtesy of Security (pixabay.com)
  3. Respiratory diseases – Boiling this plant’s leaves in water is an excellent remedy for several respiratory diseases such as asthma, cough, and flu. You can also add honey and ginger in the mixture to enhance its flavor and efficacy. Just remember to boil it until half of the water evaporates.
  4. Kidney problems – Drinking basil juice may help prevent kidney stones. According to various studies, if you are suffering from kidney stones, drinking this juice along with honey everyday for six months may help excrete the stones.
  5. Oral infections and dental problems – this aromatic plant is also known for its anti-bacterial properties. You can chew its leaves twice a day to treat oral infections. Gargling a solution made by boiling basil leaves may ease your sore throat. As for gum and dental problems, rubbing dried leaves of this plant is an excellent method you can try. 
  6. Gastrointestinal problems – Basil tea is an excellent remedy you can use if you're experiencing digestive problems, like constipation, indigestion, and gas pain. This herbal tea is also good for nausea and motion sickness.

Remember, before trying any of these remedies, you must first consult your doctor, especially if you are experiencing an illness that requires medical attention such as asthma, bronchitis, kidney problems and many more. 

Culinary Benefits

Caprese salad with basilCredit: Image courtesy of tiramisustudio (freedigitalphotos.net)

Basil is a typical ingredient in various gourmet recipes. However, adding or enhancing a recipe's flavor and aroma is not the herb's sole purpose. As mentioned above, this plant has anti-bacterial properties. Hence, adding it in your food lessens the risk of food contamination and diarrhea.

Overall, including this herb in your daily menu will not only bring forth savory meals but give you numerous benefits as well. 

This article entitled "Cooking with Herbs: The Most Common Culinary Herbs You can Use to Add Flavor in Your Daily Meals" may shed more information about other healthy herbs you can use to add flavor and nutrients to your meals. 

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