Ancient and Traditional Uses
The Basil herb can be found in different cuisines worldwide. The Italians are known for their love affair with it as they used it to make their dishes more flavorful. This herb can be found in Mediterranean and Asian cooking as well and its peppery taste and aromatic flavor compliment a variety of dishes which include soups, pesto, and pasta. Aside from its culinary importance, Basil is also valued for medicinal purposes as it was a remedy of many ancient peoples for common health problems. It is interesting to note that it was once considered an antidote for snake bites and it was used by ancient Egyptians in embalming since this herb was found in mummies in Egypt. Because of its many uses, this plant was believed to have magical powers. In a way, it is truly magical, because of the health benefits that one can get from it.
Characteristics of the Plant
Basil (Scientific name: Ocimum basilicum), a plant that’s popular for its culinary uses is a native of India and was introduced to the Mediterranean region via the spice routes in ancient times. It belongs to the flowering plant family, Lamiaceae, which has about 210 genera and around 3,500 species. These include herbs which are popular because of their culinary or medicinal value such as oregano, rosemary, lavender, and thyme. The Basil herb is used for its leaves. These parts of the plant are rich in disease-preventing chemical compounds that help keep the body healthy and strong.
Basils thrive in warm tropical climates. These bushy herbs which typically grow to a height of 100 cm have solid oblong leaves with a point at the end and white or purple flowers that are arranged in terminal spikes. These edible highly-nutritious plants are easy to cultivate, manage, and propagate. In fact, it is also possible to grow them indoors.
Modern Medicinal Value
It was once believed that the Basil plant provided protection to the poor. What it really does in reality is to protect a person from “poverty”, since it helps keep the body healthy, which translates to abundance, because health is wealth. This herb is a good source of manganese (for better metabolism), vitamin K (encourages blood clotting and bone metabolism), vitamin A (for healthy teeth, vision and skin), vitamin C (for growth, development and repair of all body tissues), iron (for proper function of hemoglobin), copper (for healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves and immune function), calcium (for strong bones and teeth), and flavonoids (which help fight oxidative stress since these are powerful antioxidants that can help prevent diseases and premature ageing).
Rich in powerful nutrients and components, Basil which is also brewed into tea can provide those who consume it with the following benefits:
- It can help delay the signs of ageing and promotes younger-looking skin
- It can help manage high blood sugar and can benefit patients with Diabetes
- It can help fight depression, alleviate anxiety, and improve mental health
- It can give relief to people with hypertension and support cardiovascular health
- It can help improve sleep and lessen stress
- It can help reduce inflammation and swelling
- It is good for the gut and promotes healthy digestion
- It strengthens the immune system and may help prevent different types of cancer
With these benefits, the Basil plant has proven that it is more than a culinary herb. True to its name as the “King of Herbs”, it is also good for the body, mind, and spirit.