Benefits of Basil
The Health Benefits of Basil
By: Femi Doyle-Marshall
Basil is part of the mint family, which also includes oregano and rosemary. The benefits of basil are well known and it is very popular as a cooking herb to add flavor to recipes but it also has a wide range of medicinal qualities that have held in it extremely high esteem in Asia for centuries.
There are actually 35 types of basil but the one that has been studied the most for its health benefits is holy basil. This seems to be the one that offers the most powerful results for health & wellbeing but Italian basil (often known as sweet basil) is more commonly used in cooking and has plenty of benefits of its own thanks to its high concentration of eugenol.
Some of the big benefits of basil with regards to health include:
It Acts As an Anti Inflammatory
Eugenol is one of the volatile oils that can be found in basil and has been shown to have strong anti inflammatory properties.
Its main benefits is its ability to inhibit the cyclooxygenase enzyme, which is also the way that anti inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and aspirin work .
Studies have shown that Holy Basil can reduce inflammation in rats with rheumatoid arthritis by almost 75% for up to a day afterwards . This is very similar to the effects of anti inflammatory medications prescribed for arthritis and is potentially a natural alternative to this type of treatment.
Basil could play a key role in an anti inflammatory diet for people suffering from inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
It Has Antibacterial Effects
Studies have suggested that basil can act as a natural antibiotic due to its antibacterial properties and it has even shown potential for inhibiting the growth of some bacteria that have become resistant to widely used antibiotics .
Studies have also looked at the role that basil could play in treating respiratory conditions, particularly with regards to the bacterial infection, tuberculosis. The results have indicated that basil could be used to treat the symptoms of tuberculosis, to the extent that researchers have put it forward as a key component for future antituberculosis treatments .
It Keeps Blood Vessels Healthier
Basil contains beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that can discourage free radicals from being able to oxidize in the bloodstream. When oxidization occurs, it can lead to plaque formations in the blood vessels and act as a risk factor for atherosclerosis, a condition in which the blood vessels narrow and restrict blood flow .
Basil is also a good source of magnesium, which is a key mineral for cardiovascular health as it helps the blood vessels to relax.
A study on postmenopausal women found that magnesium encourages a reduction in endothelial dysfunction. This refers to inflammation in the tissues around the blood vessels and heart, which is linked to vascular diseases and can increase the risk of vascular conditions – notably atherosclerosis . Endothelial cells are important for a healthy vascular system and have an effect on blood pressure as a result of this.
It Reduces Blood Pressure
Sweet basil has been shown in studies to reduce blood pressure and is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat high blood pressure. A study on rats found that rats treated with sweet basil experienced a decrease in blood pressure by the end of the 4 week study period, compared to the untreated group who saw no real difference to their blood pressure during the study .
It Fights Acne
A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that both Holy Basil and sweet basil can fight the bacteria linked to acne . Despite Holy Basil generally having more powerful health effects than sweet basil, the latter did slightly better in terms of results when both were applied topically.
It Reduces Stress Levels and Anxiety
Studies have indicated that basil can help the body to regulate levels of the stress hormone, cortisol . This hormone is linked to a lot of health conditions, including diabetes, so the role that basil can play in managing its production can be beneficial for general health.
A study in the Journal of Ayurvedic and Integrative Medicine also found that people who took a 500 mg extract of Holy Basil every day felt less stressed and anxious, and that this effect was on a par with Diazepam and other medications .
It Can Protect Against the Effects of Cancer Treatments
Studies on mice have suggested that Holy Basil can help to protect the body against the negative effects of radiation as a cancer treatment. In particular, it has shown a lot of promise in protecting normal tissues that are not affected by cancer against radiation damage and for reducing or preventing nausea as a side effect of radiation therapy. 
It Can Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Studies on rats showed that taking extract of Holy Basil for 30 days decreased blood sugar levels by almost 25% . Other rats were given Holy Basil leaf powder and also saw a reduction in their blood sugar after 30 days.
The benefits of basil truly exist. Just by adding a little spice to your dishes you can reap the gems this herb has for your body.
And that’s it for today. Be sure to contact us if you have any questions. We are here to help make what you need happen! Feel free to reach out if you have any concerns at all.
photo credit: Rob.Bertholf Fresh Basil via photopin (license)