Properties of Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)

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Basil or Ocimum Basilicum was first cultivated 5,000 years ago.Experts disagree about whether it was first grown in India or Africa, but both cultures have been using it from thousands of years. There is some evidence that sweet basil was used in a cousin known as Hunan in 807 BC, so it might have originated in China. Basil wasn’t used in Britain until the 16th century. The Haitians believed it would protect them, while the Egyptians guarded their tombs and graves by scattering basil leaves on top.

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In places like Iran and Malaysia, basil or Ocimum Basilicum is still planted on the graves of friends and relatives as a sign of love for the deceased. Greeks used it as a symbol for mourning and in Jewish folklore, basil is considered to be an ingredient that provided strength to fosters. The root of the word ‘basil’ is the Greek word  “basilikohn” which stands for “royal”. The first written record of basil was in a British book written in the 17th century

Chemical constituents

The chemical constituents of Basil or Ocimum Basilicum are Vitamin K, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Folate, Calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Magnesium, Omega-3 fatty acids, Citronellol, Linalool,Myrcene, Pinene, Ocimene, Terpineol, Linalyl acetate, Fenchyl acetate, Trans-ocimene, Camphor Octanane, Methyl eugenol, Methyl chavicol, Eugenol, Beta caryophyllene and 1,8-cineole.

  • An essential component of Basil called eugenol can be harmful if consumed in excessive amount as it may cause shortness of breath, blood in urine, nausea, dizziness and blood in cough.
  • The normal dose to be consumed per day is 2 to 3 drops of eugenol.So be careful not to take an over dose.

Medicinal Properties

Basil has a wide range of health benefits which makes it a popular beverage around the world, including its ability to reduce stress, cure sleeplessness, regulate blood sugar, prevent chronic disease, protect respiratory health, soothe inflammation, aid digestion and increase circulation.

The therapeutic properties of basil or Ocimum Basilicum are listed below :

  • Antibacterial
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-ageing
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Aphrodisiac property
  • Treats respiratory disorders and issues
  • Cures digestive issues
  • Stress reliever
  • Boosts immunity
  • Prevent kidney stones
  • Cures heart disease

Antibacterial Properties

  • Basil or Ocimum Basilicum has a combination of different essential oils .The antibacterial properties are thought to be because of the volatile oils of basil,which include estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene
  • These oils can protect you from harmful bacteria and microbes. Pathogenic bacteria can cause various illnesses, such as strep throat, cholera, tuberculosis, staph infections, and food poisoning.
  • These bacteria and microbes can infect you if you’re living in unsanitary conditions, and they replicate very quickly. 

Antioxidant Properties

  • The main purpose of consuming foods that are anti oxidizing in nature, is to balance the number of free radicals in our body. The free radicals are highly reactive molecules which are produced by the metabolism of our body’s cells. They can cause oxidation stress, which can damage the proteins, molecules, and genes that are necessary for your health.
  • Antioxidants can neutralize the free radicals in your bloodstream, and repair these damaged molecules. With its high vitamin C content, basil has been shown to effectively counter oxidation damage produced by the free radicals.
  • These antioxidants are capable of neutralizing free radicals and preventing mutation. The free radicals can often lead to cancer, anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties of eugenol and other active ingredients make this a reliable way to lower your risk of many types of cancer.

Anti-Ageing Properties

  • Vitamin C, Vitamin A, the  phyto-nutrients and other essential oils in Basil are excellent antioxidants and protect your body from nearly all the damages caused by free radicals in your body.
  • These free radicals are hazardous byproducts of cellular metabolism that are responsible for a wide swath of diseases, including cancer.
  • In the traditional Indian medicine system called Ayurveda, tulsi is considered as a tonic to retain youthful vigor and avoid premature aging.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

  • If you are suffering from arthritis, indigestion, headaches, fever, gout or any other inflammatory condition, basil tea can quickly relieve you from the discomfort. Drinking one cup at the beginning of the day and one cup at the end of the day can provide relief from many different ailments, including chronic pain and joint disorders.
  • Arthritis involves stiffness, swelling, and pain. Some kinds of arthritis can affect organs, such as the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys, and skin. Basil contains high amounts of beta-caryophyllene which can treat arthritis.

Aphrodisiac Properties

Infertility can be due to poor sperm quality or erectile dysfunction and  basil has been considered an aphrodisiac and is helpful in the treatment of sexual impotency. Research also indicated that it can improve problems with erectile dysfunction as well.

Ocimum Basilicum Treats Respiratory Issues

  • If you are suffering from cold along with viral, bacterial and fungal infections of the respiratory system, basil gives miraculous relief in congestion due to the presence of components like Camphene, Eugenol, and Cineole in its essential oils.
  • It is very effective in curing almost all varieties of respiratory disorders including bronchitis both chronic and acute.
  • It is very beneficial in the treatment of asthma since it relieves congestion and facilitates smoother breathing. The phyto-nutrients and essential oils, along with the other minerals in it, help cure some of the underlying causes of asthma as well.
  • The compounds like vitamin C, Camphene, Eugenol and Cineole that are present in the essential oils of basil,cure infections as well as congestion in your lungs. Tulsi is found to be effective in healing damages caused to the lungs due to smoking, tuberculosis, and prevents lung cancer. It also helps to cure tuberculosis due to its antibiotic properties.

Cures Digestive Issues

Basil has a strong impact on the digestive tract and can stimulate the release of gastric juices, making our bowels move smoothly. It also has anti-spasmodic effects, which can help those who are suffering from constipation. Detoxifying the liver and bladder are also linked to the digestion of our food, while the reduction in inflammation helps our intestinal flora maintain a healthy balance.

Stress Reliever

  • Eugenol, also known as clove oil, is the active ingredient in basil which is known to affect cortisol levels in our body. By managing and reducing the levels of these stress hormones, basil can help prevent the side effects of chronic stress, such as increased oxidative stress, unbalanced metabolic activity, chronic disease and weak immune system.
  • Tulsi soothes our nerves, lowers our blood pressure, reduces inflammation and thus reduces stress. Potassium also reduces blood pressure-related stress by replacing sodium and loosening the tensed blood vessels.
  • The vitamin K in basil is involved in a process called sphingolipid metabolism. Sphingolipids are molecules that help protect the brain from oxidative stress.

Prevents Kidney stone

Basil is a detoxifier and a mild diuretic that helps in reduction of uric acid level in our body, which is the main reason behind kidney stones. It also helps in cleaning out our kidneys through increased frequency of urination. Acetic acid and certain components in basil essential oil facilitate dissolution of the stones, it has pain-killer effects.

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