Basil, or Ocimum basilicum, is an herb that falls under the Lamiaceae family of mints. It is also known as Thai Basil or Sweet Basil. It is frequently used in cooking for seasoning purposes. Originating in India, where it is known as Tulsi, and other tropical Asian regions, it is now grown in numerous different parts of the world. In India, one variety of the plant with black leaves is actually worshipped by the locals!
The Basil plant is bushy and it grows up to a height of about two feet. It can be grown both indoors and outdoors. It grows well under proper sunlight and on a well-drained soil. If it is grown indoors, heating cables can be useful. Not only are the health benefits of this herb countless, it is expected to have an overall mind-body effect.
Health Benefits of the Herb:
1. Enhances immunity: Basil aids the production of antibodies to fight against microbes and the diseases they bring with them on a general level. T-helper cells, which are responsible for fighting antigens and infections, get a production boost when the herb is consumed.
2. Helps in the treatment of specific diseases:
(a) Cough: Basil helps to prevent, restrict and heal infections in the throat and even in the respiratory tract up to a great extent. It slackens the respiratory tract and helps to expel out the mucus. As a result, it also has the ability to treat asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases to some degree.
(b) Sore throat: Basil boiled in water can be very beneficial as it has a soothing effect on sore throats. If honey can be mixed with it, the results may be obtained even sooner and more effectively.
(c) Fever: Basil aids in keeping the body temperature of a person normal.
(d) Cold: Basil prevents and treats common cold by fighting infections and making it easier to cough out the mucus.
(e) Oral Infection: It fights oral infections and tones up the gums to make them stronger. Even the treatment of mouth ulcers is facilitated by basil.
(f) Tooth problems: Not only does it make gums stronger and healthier, it also prevents cavities and/or formation of plaque.
(g) Kidney stones: When renal failure occurs, the kidneys are not able to filter enough waste products from the blood. A kidney stone is an irregular concretion formed at the excretory passage of the kidneys. Consuming basil helps in the breaking up of the kidney stone, also known as a renal calculus.
3. Improves the nervous system: Not only does it strengthen the nervous system, it also enhances brain activity and is said to improve our mental concentration.
4. Heart care: Basil contains high amounts of beta-carotene and other carotenoids. These are strong antioxidants that provide cell protection from cholesterol and free radicals. Plus, it is rich in magnesium, which improves blood flow and cardiovascular health.
5. Cancer prevention: As the antioxidants and flavonoids help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, basils can actually help prevent some cancers.
6. Basil and a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract: Basil has certain anti-inflammatory properties that can provide relief from many kinds of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), indigestion, constipation, stomach cramps and so on.
7. Skin care: The oil found in basil helps fight the bacteria that results in pimples. Therefore, it is recommended to apply basil-boiled water on the affected areas of the skin with a piece of cotton. You should wait at least 10 minutes before washing off the whole face with water. Also, such treatment reduces the pain and inflammation of skin resulting from an insect sting.
8. Headache and eye-related problems: It is a good pain-killer and gives some relief in case of headache or even a migraine. Since basil is rich in Vitamin A, it helps the eyes to function properly. Boiled basil water can also be used to clean the eyes to prevent any kind of disinfection in them.
9. Prevents and alleviates stress: Consumption of the herb is known to “stabilize” the mind. It contains phytochemicals which, according to studies, may lower cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that we secrete when tensed.
Overall, besides its aromatic qualities and culinary benefits, basil features antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties that enhance individual well-being to the extent that it compels one to realize the importance of this herb for a long and healthy life.
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