Basil – A Healthy Plant
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a world-famous herb and it’s used in many dishes all over the globe. It adds some flavor, aroma and texture to every meal. This is an annual plant native to tropic regions of India and other Asian regions. Despite its Asian origin, it’s the most popular in Italian cuisine. However, it’s used all over the world, such as in Indonesian, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, Laos and in the United States.
This is a very versatile herb so it suits almost any cuisine. It’s not surprising that it’s so popular around the world.
However, basil is much more than a simple aromatic herb. It offers numerous health benefits. It means that basil is not just tasty but a very healthy herb you should include in your diet. With so many benefits, basil is sure a plat you want to grow in your home or garden.
Here are the main health benefits of basil:
Promoting Cardiovascular Health
Basil is great for your cardiovascular health. It contains numerous antioxidants such as beta-carotene and other types of carotenoids. It protects your body against free radical damage and inhibits these free radicals so they can’t oxidize cholesterol in the blood. It means that cholesterol buildup is prevented. Since cholesterol is one of the main reasons behind harmful plaque in the arteries, which leads to heart attack, it’s clear how basil protects your health.
Basil is also high in magnesium, which boosts the circulation of blood and also relaxes blood vessels and muscles. It also reduces the risk of heart spasms. In this way, basil protects you from numerous cardiovascular problems.
Healthier Skin and Hair
Basil can make your skin and hair healthier. This herb contains valuable essential oils that will great benefit your skin and hair. Basil acts as a fantastic organic moisturizer that can easily remove skin dryness and help you get rid of some of the common skin problems such as acne, eczema, rashes, psoriases, ringworm and many others.
Basil will also add some glow to dull hair and make it more healthy and beautiful. To make a great mix that will enhance the glow of your hair, take two drops each of basil, lavender and rosemary oils. Add a bit of almond oil to it and a half ounce of jojoba oil. Massage this mixture directly only your scalp. Make sure to do it gently, preferably using your fingertips. Let the mixture stay for about half an hour. Don’t forget to rinse thoroughly with water and use a shampoo as a final step. Use this treatment two or three times per week. You will see your hair looking better than ever and it should gain a completely new glow in less than six months.
Basil can be used to prevent certain forms of cancer. The antioxidants in Basil protect the body against cellular damage caused by free radicals. This aids to cancer prevention. One study, released in 2007 by Journal of Medical Food, showed that basil is very efficient in fighting oxidative stress that causes cancer in rats. Basil is known to inhibit the formation of cancer-causing toxins.
Another study, published by the Taiwan Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2010, showed that basil lowers cholesterol levels and boosts immune system, in addition to helping fight cancer. Also, it was found that an active component in basil, called caffeic acid, can act as an effective prevention against cervical cancer.
Immune System Boost
Basil is also great for boosting the immune system. It’s because it contains chemical compounds that can kick start the body’s antibodies. The increase in effectiveness of the antibodies can be as high as 20 percent. It means you can fight infections better. Also, basil can kill many viruses that cause common ailments, such as flu or cold.
Promoting Gastrointestinal Health
Basil is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and it can help maintaining gastrointestinal health. It can also help treating certain types of digestive disorders, such as the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), flatulence, indigestion, stomach cramps, constipation, and more. It’s all achieved due to a substance called eugenol, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
Protecting the Liver
Basil can keep the liver healthy and properly functioning. There are several studies showing that basil can acts as a protection for the liver. For example, a study done at the University of Mansoura in Egypt, showed that basil contains 6 compounds that can effectively protect the body against oxidative stress on the liver.
Also, basil contributes to a better liver function by removing toxins from the blood. It improves metabolic breakdown and fights numerous types of liver problems.
Balancing Blood Sugar Level
Basil is great plant for those who have diabetes. Basil leaf can be used for lowering blood sugar levels. A study conducted by the University of Agriculture and Technology in Kanpur reveals that there is a 17 percent reduction in fasting glucose and 7 percent in glucose levels as a result of basil use. Basil can help regulating even urine glucose levels.
Other researches proved basil to be effective in many cases of mild and moderate diabetes.