Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)

Basil Benefits

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a popular kitchen herb used for flavouring food. It is also widely regarded for its health-enhancing properties. Basil has been a staple of medicine for generations and the herb has been used to treat a variety of different conditions, from inflammation to bug bites.

Health Benefits

Basil has long been considered an anti-depressant. It makes an excellent tea that acts on the adrenal cortex, and it can help the body stimulate hormones that regulate the body's natural response to stress. For this reason, many people believe that basis has uplifting properties. Basil may also be able to improve memory, and it is often utilized to overcome the effects of jet lag. Basil has been commonly found in a variety of treatments for diarrhea, intestinal parasites, fevers, and skin infections. It is also thought to imitate estrogen, and may help regulate the menstrual cycle. In addition, basil may stimulate the immune system and lower the uric acid content that is responsible for arthritis and gout. Basil can also be used to treat the pain and inflammation of arthritis.

Active Ingredients

Basil contains large quantities of E-Beta-CaryoPhyllene (BCP) which may be useful in treating arthritis or bowel diseases. BCP is one of the only products that naturally stimulates the body's cannabinoid receptors, and it can block the signals that lead to inflammation associated with arthritis. Basil also contains eugenol, cintronellol, linalool, and myrcene.

Using Basil Leaves

Basil can be used in a variety of ways. The fresh leaves can be made into a poultice, or the seeds can be ground and added to meals. Basil also has antiseptic properties, and when the leaves are rubbed onto bug bites they can help reduce itching. Another outstanding use of basil is as an insect repellent. The herb is often made into tinctures, and because basil is an expectorant, it can help fight bronchitis and coughs. Basil is good for a wide variety of lung ailments, and when it is combined with elecampane and hyssop, it can be brewed into a tea that helps fight head colds. When consumed as a hot tea, basil can either be taken internally or inhaled, and the herb is often found in a variety of aromatherapy products.

Basil Essential Oil

Basil is often found as an essential oil, and the product is said to fight mental fatigue. Basil oil is not taken internally, but it is used in aromatherapy and massage. When used in a massage, basil can increase blood flow and enhance the amount of nutrients that reach tired and fatigued muscles. The essential oil has also been used to fight headaches, reduce hay fever, allergies, or asthma, and it can even relieve the symptoms of hiccoughs.

Culinary Uses

Basil is often used in tomato dishes, and it forms a crucial part of pesto. It is also said to complement the flavour of peaches very nicely. Just a few fresh leaves, or a sprinkling of dried leaves, are all that is needed to add a distinct flavor to any type of dish.


A. Muthuraman, et al. Ameliorative effects of ocimum sanctum in sciatic nerve transection-induced neuropathy in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, October 2008; 120(1): 56- 62.

J. Vivoch, et al. Evaluation of in vitro antimicrobial activity of Thai basil oils and their micro-emulsion formulas against Propionibacterium acnes. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, April 2006; 28(2): 125-33

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