Grown originally in Asia and in the Middle East, basil has traveled the world along the spice trail. It has been grown and used for over 5000 years and has hundreds of varieties. Now cultivated in many countries, all of its varieties have unique and individual chemical make-ups and yet stunningly, the base medicinal properties remain consistent across the different strains. You may know Basil as a common herb, a kitchen staple that tastes really good in chicken and pasta dishes. But did you know that it is an excellent alternative health treatment for many minor ailments that ail us regularly? Did you know that naturopathic doctors across the world prescribe basil in treatment of diabetes, respiratory disorders, allergies, impotence, and infertility? Here, we list 10 effective ways through which you can use basil to lead a healthier, disease-free life.
10. Calms the stomach
Studies suggest that eugenol, a compound which can be found in basil, can keep your gut safe from pain, cramping, nausea or diarrhea by killing off bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria. ½ a teaspoon of dried or fresh Basil Leaf mixed with water can often help cure indigestion and alleviate feelings of fullness. The Italians may actually be on to something what with adding Basil to everything.
- Cures headache
A facial steam with dried basil leaf can help alleviate a headache in a jiffy. Add a tablespoon of dried basil leaf to 2 cups of boiling water in a large pot. Carefully lean over this pot while covering your head with a towel and breathe in the steam deeply for 5-10 minutes until the headache starts to subside.
Alternatively, you can just chew some fresh basil leaves or massage your forehead gently with some basil oil mixed with any base oil.
- Reduces blood pressure
High blood pressure (high BP) is a very common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it might eventually cause health problems, like heart disease.
Now basil is a herb that goes deliciously with variety of foods but in addition to augmenting the taste of food, it also helps lower your blood pressure. Consuming extract of basil regularly has been shown to reduce blood pressure, albeit only briefly.
- Cough and cold
Chewing on basil leaves can cure colds and flu symptoms quickly. In case of sore throat, water boiled with basil leaves can be taken as a tonic or used as a gargle. Boiling and consuming basil leaves with honey and ginger is useful for treating asthma, cough, cold, and even influenza.
- Stings and Bites
If you are working outside and get bitten by an insect but don’t have any medicine growing nearby, don’t worry, for chewing up a basil leaf and applying some to the bite will help relieve the pain and draw out the venom.
Basil is also a very effective remedy for bee stings. Being a natural antibacterial, basil restricts the growth of bacteria in our body. It contains an anti-inflammatory agent called eugenol, which helps reduce redness and swelling. Crush some fresh basil leaves to make a paste and apply it to the bee sting, leave it on undisturbed for around 15 minutes, and rinse it off with cool water. For quicker relief crush a handful of basil leaves and add 2 teaspoons of turmeric to it. Apply to the stung area and let it dry. Repeat these steps regularly 3 to 4 times a day to get rid of a bee sting without a trace.
- Ear infections
Basil which is an antiviral, antispasmodic, antibacterial, and a muscle relaxant, is an effective way to treat ear infections in addition to treating throat, respiratory, and lung infections.
Dip a cotton ball in basil oil or drip a few drops of oil on a cotton ball to make it wet. Now, place this cotton ball in your ear. Do not push it deep inside. Just place it inside gently to let the vapors reach the infection. Change the cotton ball several times a day by replacing it with a new one to clear the infection.
- Stress reduction
Stress can be defined as the series of responses an organism makes to stimulus that disturb equilibrium or exceed an organism’s capacity to cope. Though some amount of stress is good for us, if stress becomes chronic, then it can create many problems. When our body is continually stressed our digestive system can become impaired which can lead to increased appetite and weight gain. Our nervous system can also get damaged leading to anxiety or depression. Chronic stress can even suppress our immune system leading to sickness and autoimmune diseases.
Holy basil functions as an adaptogen, enhancing the body’s natural response to physical and psychological stress. Instead of altering mood like narcotics do, adaptogenic herbs help the body function optimally during times of stress.
Multiple scientific studies have found that extracts of holy basil decrease stress hormone levels, especially corticosterone. Lower levels of corticosterone is associated with improved mental clarity and memory, and in the long-term it can reduce the risk of age-related psychological disorders.
- Kidney Stones
Basil can also be used to strengthen your kidneys. The holy basil being a great detoxifier helps reduce the uric acid levels in the blood the excess presence of which in the blood is one of the main reasons for kidney stones, helps cleanse the kidneys etc.
The presence of acetic acid and other components in its essential oils helps in breaking down kidney stones and its function as a painkiller helps dull down the pain caused by kidney stones.
To relieve kidney stones, one must have the juice of basil leaves with mixed with honey, every day for six months. This will help wash out the kidney stones through the urinary tract.
- Heart Problems
Basil can also be used to strengthen those weakened by heart disease. It can reduce your cholesterol, tone your heart muscle and improve blood circulation.
Basil, which is also called the “king of herbs”, modulates blood sugar and inflammation, reduces cholesterol, cortisol and free radicals, burns belly fat, strengthens and supports our lungs and improves digestion. In addition to all this, it functions as a strong antioxidant and helps keep our body healthy.
- Eye Disorders
Basil juice is very good for eye disorders like night-blindness and sore eyes. Dripping two drops of black basil juice in each eye before going to bed everyday can soothe and relax our eyes.
By following these remedies, you can now use basil to live a healthy, stress-free life.