The king of herbs basil herb is one of the ancient and popular herbal plants brimming with important health-benefiting phytonutrients. This highly prized plant revered as "holy herb" in many cultures all around the world. Basil belongs to the family of Lamiaceae, in the genus: Ocimum. Its scientific name is "Ocimum basilicum.".
One of the oldest herbs known to the mankind, basil's healing and healthful properties have been the most treasured knowledge across the world. Closer home, Holy basil is revered for its strong medicinal and healing properties. One can still see basil plants outside many Indian households, even outside the clamped urban flats. Basil forms an intrinsic part of various curries and stews. There are significant botanical differences in various types of basil plants. The many varied species of basil include: sweet basil, lemon basil, Italian or curly basil, holy basil, Thai basil and lettuce-leaf basil. The smell and flavour of basil vary upon the concentration of essential volatile oils present in the herb. Cinnamate, citronellol, geraniol, linalool, pinene and terpineol are some of the oils that one can find across all species of basil. And it is the presence of these oils that chiefly affect the medicinal benefits of basil leaves.
Basil leaves are used in a variety of culinary preparations. In addition to the flavour, the culinary herb is said to preserve and enhance the properties of the food. From healthy gut to stronger immunity, benefits of basil leaves are quite a lot. Here are some you may not have known.
Benefits of basil leaves
Good For Digestion - According to the book , 'Healing Foods' by DK Publishing, basil can facilitate optimal digestion. "Basil fortifies the digestive and nervous system and can be a good remedy for headaches and insomnia," notes the book. The eugenol present in the leaves ensures anti-inflammatory action in the digestive tract. Basil helps balance acid within the body and restores the body's proper pH level.
Anti-inflammatory - Basil and its strong anti-inflammatory properties can prove to be a cure to a variety of diseases and disorders. The powerful essential oils, including eugenol, citronellol and linalool, help lower inflammation through their enzyme inhibiting properties. The anti-inflammatory properties of basil may help lower risk of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions. Consumption of basil could also soothe fever, headache, sore throat, cold, cough, flu.
Fights free radical activity - According to the book 'Healing Foods', the culinary herb contains a range of natural antioxidants, which can help protect body tissues against free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable atoms. To become stable, they take electrons from other atoms and form chains. These chains of free radicals cause oxidative stress to the body and cause more damage to the cells. To reduce the oxidative stress in the body, one must up the intake of antioxidants. Basil contains two important water-soluble flavonoid antioxidants, known as orientin and viceninare. These potent antioxidants strengthen immune system, protect cellular structure, DNA and delay effects of skin ageing.
Skin Benefits - Basil's powerful oil helps cleanse the skin from within. The excellent skin cleanser is perfect for those with oily skin. It also helps remove dirt and impurities that clog pores. Make a paste of basil leaves, sandalwood paste and rose water. Apply the paste on your face and let it sit for 20 minutes. Was it off with cold water. The strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of basil would help prevent formation of acne.
Fights Depression - Basil's essential oil may help manage depression and anxiety too. The herb is believed to stimulate neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones responsible for inducing happiness and energy. Its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties help manage stress too.
Diabetes Management - Consumption of basil could result in slow release of sugar in the blood, which is very essential for diabetics. The herb has very low glycemic load. The essential oil present in basil also helps cut down triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which is a persistent risk factor amongst diabetics.
Supports Liver Function and Helps Detoxify the Body - Basil's strong detox properties may do wonders for your liver health. Liver is a very essential organ for the body as it plays a crucial role in metabolism. Basil may help prevent fat build-up in the liver and keep your liver healthy.
Promote healthy gut - Basil also helps restore the body's natural pH levels and feeds healthy bacteria within the gut microflora. A healthy gut flora increases immunity and promotes healthy digestion.
Heals An Upset Tummy - The essential volatile oil of basil has been seen as a traditional remedy to treat a variety of tummy problems in addition to indigestion. Consuming basil could help reduce bloating and water retention. It can even stimulate loss of appetite and could cure acid reflux as well.
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