Basil is a common aromatic herb that belongs in the mint family. This is the same plant family as other beneficial and nutrient-dense herbs, including oregano, mint and rosemary.
Basil is used to add flavor to a variety of recipes, but also has many benefits that makes basil well-known for its immunity-enhancing properties. Basil essential oil or basil extract, is proven to help in preventing a wide range of health conditions, which makes it one of the most important medical herbs today.
There are 35 different types of basil? Basil plants come in a range of sizes and variety, but holy basil is the most researched type of basil thus far. Holy basil is the species of basil that is known for its powerful healing qualities.
At least 6 different essential oils have been identified in holy basil within its roots, seeds, stem and leaves. Holy basil has the scientific name Ocimum sanctum L. or Ocimum tenuiflorum L., and is known to be an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and powerful adaptogen, which means it helps the body to respond to stress and fight disease.
Health Benefits of Basil Leaves:
1. Basil Leaves Contains Anti-aging Properties
According the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) in Manchester, basil contains properties that can help in preventing the harmful effects of aging. Basil extract was effective at preventing damage caused by some free radicals in the brain, liver and heart and destroying harmful molecules.
The researchers, which was led by Dr. Vaibhav Shinde from Poona College of Pharmacy, Maharashtra, India, studied basil for anti-aging and antioxidant properties. Dr. Shinde stated that, “The study validates the traditional use of the herb for use as a youth-promoting substance in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Also, it helps describe how basil acts at a cellular level.”
2. Basil Leaves for the Treatment of Arthritis
A study, that was presented at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s annual event, reported that “extracts of O. tenuiflorum or Holy basil, were shown to help in reducing swelling by up to 73%, 24 hours after treatment”. These effects on swelling were similar in extent to those that were seen with the drug diclofenac, which is an anti-inflammatory medication that is widely used in the treatment of arthritis.
In the paper, Therapeutic uses of Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi), with a note on eugenol and its pharmacological actions: a short review, the authors concluded that “Our results supported the use of these traditional treatments in inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.”
3. Basil Leaves Contain Anti-bacterial Properties
Lab studies have shown that basil contains antibacterial properties. These antibacterial properties are due to its volatile oils, which include linalool, estragole, eugenol, cineole, myrcene, sabinene and limonene.
Basil restricts the growth of numerous bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia enterocolitica, Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This means that adding fresh basil to a salad not only adds flavor, but it also helps in reducing the number of harmful bacteria on the plate.
4. Basil Leaves for Fighting Depression
The benefits of basil also apply to people suffering from mood-related illnesses or mental disorders, including anxiety and depression. Also, basil is considered as an antidepressant by some, since it can positively impact brain function within the adrenal cortex, by helping to stimulating neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones responsible for making us energetic and happy.
5. Basil Leaves for Diabetes Protection
Basil extracts have been reported to help in reducing inflammation and circulating blood glucose levels, which makes basil protective against other forms of metabolic syndrome and diabetes development. Also, the benefits of basil essential oils include the ability to help in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which diabetic patients are at a higher risk for developing.
When researchers from the Department of Home Science at Azad University of Agriculture and Technology in India studied the effects of basil leaves on serum cholesterol and blood glucose levels in people, through double-blind clinical trials. The results reported that basil caused mild improvements in cholesterol levels and significant improvements in blood glucose control. This suggests that basil supplementation can be a safe and usefulway to help in controlling diabetes and complications that result from the disease.
6. Basil Leaves for Fighting Cancer
Clinical studies published in Nutrition and Cancer, reported that basil contains phytochemicals, and these can help in naturally preventing cancer, including chemical-induced skin, oral, lung and liver cancers. Basil is also able to induce cancerous-cell apoptosis (death of harmful cells), increase antioxidant activity, stop cancerous tumors from spreading and positively alter gene expressions.
In studies wherein animals where used, basil extract has reported protection against cancer and mortality. Also, it protects normal cells and tissue from the negative effects of cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation. This means that using basil extract can be beneficial as a supplemental cancer treatment, even when an individual is currently undergoing traditional forms of treatments.
7. Basil Leaves for Treating Headache
Research showed the traditional use of basil in the treatment of headache. Basil can be cosume in different forms, either as herbal tea mixed with honey or other herbs, dried powder, or juice to enhance its beneficial properties.