The health benefits of basil leaves have been leveraged for centuries. Basil a much-revered plant in India and is a favored home remedy—and a tasty one—for a number of ailments.
At the first sign of a cold, my grandmother used to make a concoction of tulsi/basil leaves steeped in water to offer tremendous relief and keep a sore throat from becoming a full-blown infection. But the versatile basil has far more uses both in medicine and in the kitchen.
Basil belongs to the mint family. It is widely available in Asia and Africa and extensively used as a garnishing herb in Indian, Mediterranean and Italian cuisines. But more importantly, it brings innumerable medicinal properties and health benefits.
Ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal texts eulogize the virtues of basil and give detailed instructions on using it to prepare life-saving medicines. And here are a few good reasons why you should seriously consider consuming this herb.
Nutritional profile of basil leaves
2 grams of basil leaves contain
- Vitamin A (3% of RDI – recommended daily intake)
- Vitamin K (13% of RDI)
- Calcium (0.5 % of RDI)
- Manganese (1.5 % of RDI)
- Iron (0.5 % of RDI)
Ideally, chop up the leaves and use them in cooking instead of consuming dried or powdered basil which loses much of its nutritional properties. Or you can simply pop a few leaves into your mouth to chew. The leaves are sweet and aromatic and eating them raw is usually okay.
Oils are extracted from basil leaves which is a kind of essential oil. You can also buy basil oil and use that as bath oil, massage oil or simply sniff it to derive many of its benefits.
18 Health Benefits of Basil leaves
Basil contains antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and finds extensive use in holistic medicines. Here are 18 health benefits of basil leaves.
- Basil leaves instantly reduce nausea and can stop persistent vomiting (basil leaves are often recommended to pregnant women to curb morning sickness)
- As an antiseptic: ground basil leaves can effectively stop minor bleeding and ease itching and cool allergic skin reactions
- Consuming basil leaves every day can reduce your blood pressure and prevent it from shooting up
- Basil prevents sugar levels from fluctuating after meals
- Slows down the degeneration of brain cells due to ageing and wards off memory loss or psychological illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or dementia
- Helps combat stress and anxiety and in turn reduces the risk of developing clinical depression
- If you’ve had a stroke, basil leaves will speed up recovery
- If you take aspirin, you should definitely consume basil leaves because they can counter the harsh effects aspirins have on your health, particularly on your intestines
- It improves the elasticity of blood vessels and is conducive to the flow of blood
- Studies have shown that basil leaves can even prevent certain types of cancer such as breast, colon or pancreatic cancers
- If you breathe in the aroma of basil oil it will elevate your mood and boost your mental alertness
- Chewing on basil leaves can do wonders for your oral health-the leaves will freshen up your breath and kill harmful bacteria that cause the build-up of plaque and tooth decay
- Improves the action of antibiotic medicines more effective. Studies have revealed that basil compounds can kill even those bacteria that have become resistant to common antibiotics
- Keeping a basil plant in the room will repel mosquitoes and other bugs and thus may prevent illnesses spread by these creatures
- Basil also acts as an analgesic which means it can effectively combat pain, especially joint pain
- Basil helps to keep your weight under check, so if you are on a mission to lose a few pounds, then incorporate basil leaves in your diet
- Basil leaves lower bad cholesterol and are good for heart health
- Basil leaves boost the function of your stomach, improve digestion and can act as a shield against acidity
Basil is a wonder herb. It is a major ingredient in home remedies for different illnesses. Consuming basil leaves can actually prevent many health disorders. But even though the health benefits of basil leaves are legendary, a word of caution: talk with your doctor before you make basil leaves a part of your regular diet because some people are allergic to basil leaves.