Health Benefits of Basil: The Queen of Herbs
The word “Tulsi” in Sanskrit literally means “the incomparable one”. The Charaka Samhita – a nodal Ayurvedic script and The Rig-Veda, both mention tulsi as a lifesaving herb, often referred to as ‘elixir of life’. Basil leaves comes packed with a range of health benefits that include oral care, relief from respiratory disorders, treatment of fever, cold, cough, asthma, lung disorders, heart diseases, and stress. Read on to know about the health benefits of basil!
Basil, scientifically known as Ocimumbasilicum is a leafy herb belonging to the mint family. It has been widely cultivated for over 5000 years and holds a special place in Ayurvedic medicine. Basil comes in different varieties known as western sweet basil, Thai sweet basil, holy basil, lemon basil, cinnamon basil, and purple basil.
Did You Know?
– From sacred Indian texts to Bollywood movies, basil finds reverence everywhere
– Helps in many ailments from a cough and cold to cancer
– All parts are useful – leaves, stems and seeds
Further, basil is rich in vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K as well as minerals such as sodium, potassium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, calcium and zinc. There are different phytochemicals present in basil, which has the potential to prevent various types of cancer.
Now we know why tulsi has rightly held a sacred high ground since ancient times in Indian Vedic culture. It also works as a repellent to mosquitoes, flies and other harmful insects.
Health benefits of basil
Basil is potent against human ailments due to the presence of bioactive constituents like camphene, cineole and eugenol which helps the human body fight against a plethora of serious ailments like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
These compounds have well-established properties against bacterial, fungal and viral infections. It is also quite well-known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Some of the health benefits of basil are as follows:
Improves Heart Health
Basil contains flavonoids which help in preventing coronary heart disease and heart attacks. Eugenol present in basil helps in lowering the level of bad cholesterol.
Cures Respiratory Disorders
Basil comprises of essential oils like camphene, eugenol, and cineole which help in providing relief from congestion. It is most prominent in curing almost all respiratory disorders including both chronic and acute bronchitis including viral, fungal and bacterial infections of the respiratory system.
Prevents Lung Disorders
The compounds like vitamin C and essential oils not only cure lung infections but also heal the damage caused to the lungs due to smoking and tuberculosis. The active ingredients present in tulsi oils can also help treat lung damage as a result of smoking, cancer, and tuberculosis.
Protects Against Cancer
The phytochemicals in basil have the potential to prevent various types of cancer. They can reduce tumourigenicity (a tumor causing tendency) and metastasis (transfer of cancerous cells to other parts of the body by way of the blood or lymphatic vessels or membranous surfaces) of human cancer cells. Researchers have found that basil leaves also inhibit the proliferation, migration, invasion, and induce apoptosis (death) of cancerous cells.
One of the main ingredients of basil, eucalyptol helps fight inflammation and reduces associated pain by enhancing blood circulation around the wounded area. It also helps to relieve joint pains caused by inflammation. Furthermore, basil has antioxidant properties that help remove plaque from blood vessels.
Vitamin C and other antioxidants present in basil soothe the nerves and lower the blood pressure, thereby reducing stress. Basil can also regulate cortisol levels in the body. Lower levels of cortisol results in reduced anxiety and stress. Hence, basil acts as a potent adaptogen (anti-stress agent).
Increases Diuretic Activity
Basil acts as a mild diuretic and detoxifier and helps reduce the uric acid level in the body. Acetic acid and certain essential oils of basil facilitate the dissolution of the stones and help to clean out the kidneys through increased frequency of urination. Thus, basil can also cure the cause of kidney stones.
Numerous reports have proved that basil possesses immunomodulatory effects. Basil liquefies the phlegm and is effective for the treatment of allergic bronchitis, asthma, and eosinophilic lung disease. As a part of an ancient Ayurvedic tradition, basil is also used for the treatment of fever and associated common cold. Basil leaf extracts can also heal wounds, cuts, and burns quickly and can even protect from any potential infection.
How can you use Basil?
Want relief from fever and flu or want to shed off those extra calories? Chew a few basil leaves to get relief from the symptoms of cold and flu. Additionally, you can boil some basil leaves in water and drink it for losing weight. If you are suffering from severe fever, a mixture of basil leaves and a pinch of powdered cardamom can provide you relief.
Its benefits are as holy as its name. Now you know why holy basil is popular in India and rightfully so due to its ever-enriching health benefits. Let us know how you like to incorporate basil in your daily life in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: Though safe in normal amounts, basil might cause an issue in pregnant and breastfeeding women if taken in large amounts. Individuals taking basil supplements might experience some adverse effects in the liver. Basil might lower blood pressure too much, hence consult your doctor if you are on medication before using it.
100g of Basil provides 22 Calories, Carbs – 2.7g (Dietary Fibre – 1.6g, Sugar – 0.3g), Protein – 3.2g, Fat – 0.6g (PUFA – 0.4g, MUFA – 0.1g), Sodium – 4mg, Potassium – 295mg
And a percentage daily value of Vitamin A – 105%, Vitamin C – 30%, Iron – 17%, Magnesium – 16%, Calcium – 17%, Vit B6 – 10% (based on a 2000 Calorie diet).