Basil – Health Benefits, Uses, Research, Preparation, Precautions
While most often thought of as a delicious culinary herb, basil is loaded with healing properties. This beautiful herb may be used fresh or dried. It is easy to grow in pots year round. There are many kinds of basil found in warm and temperate climates worldwide.
This article on basil was written for Insights-on-Health.com by Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG. Find out more about her at the end of this article.
Common names are dependent upon the species (ocimum basilcum and related species).
Traditional and Modern Health Uses
Basil is an interesting herb in that it is energizing and relaxing simultaneously. It offers benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. The herb was traditionally employed as an aphrodisiac. It is considered to be a warming herb.
Basil aids concentration, relieves anxiety, and uplifts moods. It has anti-depressant qualities. Just smelling the herb’s fresh aroma and viewing its intensely green leaves makes me think of warm sunny days and joy. There are some purple varieties which make lovely vinegars.
Basil relieves headaches and spasms effectively. It possesses anti- inflammatory properties similar to those found in non-steroidal anti- inflammatory pharmaceutical medications, such as ibuprofen. Try drinking a basil infusion or simply nibble on a few fresh leaves the next time that you get a headache. For added relief, apply some chilled basil vinegar to a soft cloth and apply it to your forehead or to the base of your neck. Be sure to deeply inhale the aromas of the herb. This will uplift you and help your entire body to relax. Using the tea internally and the vinegar externally is especially effective if you suffer from a stress headache.
Basil supports cardiovascular health. It acts as a diuretic, ridding the body of excess fluids.
Basil relieves feelings of fullness and gassiness. It stimulates the appetite and improves digestion.
Holy basil, also known as Ocimum tenuiflorum or tulsi, is another type of basil. It has adaptogenic qualities. Adaptogens enhance your body’s ability to tolerate stress of all types.
Dr Duke states that holy basil possesses antioxidant and stress-reducing properties. He also considers the herb capable of protecting nerves.
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