For centuries, healers and physicians around the world have used basil to relieve an array of ailments and symptoms ranging from stress to respiratory issues and kidney problems. The health benefits of basil include high antioxidant levels, plus a long list of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin A, calcium, and beta carotene.
A 2017 study shows that basil extract has anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, basil reduces chronic inflammation, which can lead to other diseases. Basil oils may also relieve inflammation in nasal passages due to colds or allergies. However, studies were not conclusive as to whether eating fresh basil had the same effects.
A 2013 study at Wayne State University found that African basil inhibits the growth of human breast carcinoma cells. Basil is non-toxic, has no side effects, and humans can consume it continuously. It inhibits the enzyme that is responsible for the growth of breast cancer cells and metastasis to other parts of the body.
Basil extract has cardioprotective qualities. According to studies, it has a profound effect on hypertension, coronary artery disease, angina, congenital heart disease, and other cardiovascular conditions. Basil lowers blood lipid content and has high antioxidant properties, which not only help prevent stroke and blood flow obstruction to the heart and brain but also reduce high blood pressure.
Basil leaves may be an effective treatment for lowering blood glucose levels in people with diabetes, according to a 2019 study. Other studies support the findings and highlight additional benefits, such as a reduction in body mass in obese individuals and lower fasting blood sugar levels. In these studies, test participants ate the basil whole, in powdered leaf forms, as a juice, or in extracts.
A 2011 animal study found that herbal remedies such as basil leaf powder and leaf extract lower triglyceride levels and overall cholesterol. Basil contains flavonoids and tannins that inhibit fat oxidation leading to the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in the arterial walls. One study found that a control group who took a dose of basil leaf extract each day for seven days experienced reduced cholesterol.
Basil essential oil has antimicrobial properties, most likely due to its main component, linalool. Studies show this naturally occurring terpene is effective against Salmonella strains, E. coli, and gram-postive bacteria. The research also discovered that the time of year growers harvest basil changes its effectiveness. Essential oils and linalool from winter and autumn basil crops were just as effective as standard antibiotics.
Eating basil leaves helps relieve joint pain from arthritis. According to several studies, it is as effective as taking anti-inflammatory medications. This is due to the presence of eugenol, which stops the release of proteins called cytokines that lead to inflammation and pain. Unlike some pain medications, basil does not have side effects such as abdominal burning and gastrointestinal irritation.
Not only does the body produce toxins that it must eliminate, but it must also get rid of other harmful substances that are human-made, such as pollutants, radiation, microplastics, and pesticides. The liver detoxifies these harmful materials and allows the body to excrete them. Basil enhances the liver’s ability to transform and safely eliminate these toxins.
Basil’s anti-inflammation properties also aid in digestion. A study of the plant’s effects on animals found that basil could protect against gastric and duodenal ulcers. Basil’s effectiveness was comparable to prescription medications. Its seeds are also capable of calming upset stomach, improving low stomach acidity, and relieving indigestion and gas.
Nearly all parts of the basil plant are adaptogens, substances that combat stress and anxiety in a variety of ways. Because stress can originate from many sources, it can be difficult to protect against it. Adaptogens fight stress by exerting an anti-fatigue effect, increasing mental work capacity and tolerance to mental exhaustion.
People can reap the many benefits of basil in a variety of ways.
Basil supplements may help relieve the symptoms of various conditions. Holy basil is particularly useful in capsule form, offering many therapeutic benefits and high nutritional value from vitamins A and C, as well as calcium, zinc, and iron. Basil supplements may help reduce stress and anxiety, improve memory, and increase energy. Research shows it is safe for most people to take 500mg of holy basil twice a day.
Using basil essential oil may decrease stress levels and reduce anxiety. Studies show basil yields many medicinal benefits like improving circulation, healing respiratory discomfort, and relieving cold or flu symptoms. People often blend basil oil with two or three drops of other oils like lemon or eucalyptus for added benefits. Diluting a few drops with one tablespoon of a carrier oil may help relieve congestion and works best when applied to the chest.
Tea made from basil leaves may have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It's easy to make at home and costs very little. One method is to boil a half-cup of basil leaves in 2-1/4 cups water. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to low and brew for 3 to 4 minutes. Then, add in two of your favorite tea bags and sugar to taste.
Basil comes fresh or dry, but fresh is often better for cooking. The herb is a common addition to pesto and tomato-based sauces, thanks to its pepper and mint or citrus flavor profiles. Adding basil to meals may help with anxiety, stress, and memory. Because it has a strong flavor, a few pinches will do. People who dislike the flavor of basil but want to reap the benefits, may opt for supplements instead.
Basil is likely safe when consumed in foods or taken as a supplement. It's crucial to note, however, that basil contains estragole, a chemical that can increase liver cancer risk. Most people tolerate basil topically, and it is considered safe for skin in concentrations of up to 6% for approximately four months. At this time, there is little research around basil in aromatherapy or its side effects. Evidence suggests basil may lower blood pressure and could be dangerous for people with already low readings. People with clotting disorders or those taking blood thinners should avoid it because basil slows clotting.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.