One of the key benefits of basil is the ability to help fight free radical damage while protecting DNA structure and cells. Basil contains two important water-soluble flavonoid antioxidants, known as orientin and viceninare, which help protect white blood cells responsible for immune function, as well as cellular structures where DNA is stored.
Antioxidants found in basil keep chromosomes from becoming altered and resulting in cell mutations and cancerous cell growth. Oxidative stress occurs inside the body due to the effects of toxins in the diet, environmental pollution and radiation — but antioxidants like the kind found in basil help fight oxidation and slow down the effects of aging.
Basil contains powerful essential oils, including eugenol, citronellol and linalool. These are enzyme-inhibiting oils that help lower inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions.
Clinical studies published in Nutrition and Cancer also show that basil contains phytochemicals, which can help naturally prevent cancer, including chemical-induced skin, liver, oral and lung cancers. Basil is able to increase antioxidant activity, positively alter gene expressions, induce cancerous-cell apoptosis (death of harmful cells) and stop cancerous tumors from spreading. (4)
In studies using animals, basil extract has shown protection against cancer and mortality while also selectively protecting normal tissue and cells from negative effects of cancer treatments like radiation or chemotherapy. This means that using basil extract can be beneficial as a supplemental cancer treatment even when someone is already undergoing traditional forms of treatments.
Another one of the benefits of basil essential oils is to provide protection against harmful bacterial growth. In studies, basil extract is even shown to be helpful in inhibiting resistant strains of bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotic treatments.
When researchers from the Medical University of Lodz in Poland tested the antibacterial activity of basil oil against strains of E. coli and other powerful bacteria that were gathered from sick patients with infections, the results showed that basil was effective in acting against the bacteria strains and helping to inhibit their growth.
Basil essential oils have been found to exhibit anti-microbial activity against a wide range of bacteria, yeasts, molds and viruses. This means you can add protection against the candida virus and various forms of skin irritations to the long list of proven benefits of basil.
Studies show that basil has strong potential to act as a natural adaptogen, an herbal medicine that helps the body adapt to stress and to normalize the harmful effects of stressors on bodily processes.
Benefits of basil also apply to those with mental disorders or mood-related issues, including depression and anxiety. Basil is also considered an antidepressant by some since it can positively impact brain function within the adrenal cortex, helping stimulate neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones responsible for making us happy and energetic.
Both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food, basil can help the muscles that control blood vessel function to contract and relax, promoting healthy blood pressure. Benefits of basil include the ability to help prevent dangerous platelet aggregation, clumping together of blood platelets that can form a clot within the arteries and cause cardiac arrest.
Basil extracts also reduce inflammation that can cause cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, proteins that are secreted from cell to cell in order to communicate and raise the body’s immune defenses.
When this happens for prolonged periods of time, the body experiences an “inflammatory cascade,” which puts stress on the organs and slows down blood circulation, hormone regulation and cognitive processes. When it comes to heart health, inflammation can build up fatty, cholesterol-rich plaque in blood vessels and raise the risk for a heart attack or stroke.
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that basil effects us in significant improvements in producing detoxifying enzymes, higher antioxidant defenses and a reduction of fat buildup in the liver that can cause liver disease.
Basil helps balance acid within the body and restore the body’s proper pH level. This can improve digestion and immunity by helping healthy bacteria flourish within the gut microflora, while also decreasing harmful bacteria that can cause disease.
Other benefits of basil when it comes to improved digestion? Traditionally, basil has also been used to help reduce bloating and water retention, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, acid reflux, and even to kill stomach worms or parasites.
In Italy, basil has been considered a symbol of love for centuries. The aroma of basil is believed to increase libido and arousal, possibly by increasing blood flow and energy levels, while reducing inflammation. In the Hindu religion and in Ayurveda practices, holy basil (tulsi) is considered the “elixir of life” and is used to promote healthy sexual function and an upbeat mood.
Basil is packed with antioxidants like camphene and other volatile compounds that can reduce inflammation and improve the overall health of the skin. With fewer free radicals causing problems, your skin will look younger, free of wrinkles and age spots.
Many people chew on basil leaves because there are natural antibacterial and antiviral properties in them, but the same can be enjoyed with the tea, preventing the infections that cause halitosis and other oral diseases.
Extensive research has been done on the effects of basil on diabetes, more specifically, its effect on the regulation of blood sugar and glucose in the body. Regular consumption of this tea can help to keep your diabetic symptoms under control.
Basil is also a natural painkiller, and can quickly relieve the discomfort and inflammation associated with wounds and illness, while also helping to prevent those injuries from becoming infected.
As mentioned, basil tincture is packed with compounds that can help you prevent viral and bacterial infections, thus giving your immune system a needed break and extra support.
Basil belongs to the genus Ocimum, which is derived from the Greek ozo, meaning “to smell” The exact origins of basil are somewhat unclear, however it’s believed that basil is native to areas in Asia and Africa. Basil plants began growing as wild perennials on some pacific Islands thousands of years ago and then were brought from India to Europe through the Middle East in the 16th century. Sometime during the 17th century basil made its way over to the Americas.
Basil is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, and the term basil incorporates a number of different subspecies, although they are all scientifically known as Ocimum basilicum.
Basil has been in use for thousands of years and is an important medicinal plant in various traditional and folk systems of medicines, such as those in Southeast Asia and India. Holy basil is usually referred to as tulsi in India and is actually considered a sacred herb. It’s been used in over 300 different Ayurvedic herbal treatments for thousands of years, including tinctures, teas, ointments and tonics. Tulsi is also an important symbol in many other Hindu religious traditions and is linked to the goddess figure; in fact, tulsi in Sanskrit means “the incomparable one.”
Basil is a common aromatic herb in the mint family, the same plant family as other nutrient-dense, beneficial herbs, including mint, oregano and rosemary. Basil, of course, is used to add flavor to a variety of recipes, but what may surprise you is the many benefits of basil that make it well-known for its immunity-enhancing properties.
FDA Disclaimer: These statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health concern or condition, consult a physician. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises.
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