Basil Leaves: The Health Benefits


This herb from the mint family (Lamiaceae) is most familiar as the main ingredient of pesto, the green Italian-oil-herb sauce usually paired with pasta or spread on toasted bread. Mixed with olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts, basil gives pesto its distinct fragrance.

But aside from its strong, pungent, often sweet smell, there’s still so much more we need to know about basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) and its benefits. 


5 Health Benefits of Basil

1.       1. Protects DNA

"Rich in flavonoids orientin and vicenin, basil leaves protect cell structures and chromosomes from radation and oxygen-based damage." Source : Shull, Kaely. “Energetics of Basil: A World of Flavor.” Kaely Shull, 2021. Web. 1 Nov. 2021. <>.


2.       2. Fights Bacteria

Basil’s volatile oil such as estreagole, linalool, cineole, eugenole, myrcene, and limonene have antibacterial properties. In a study published in the Journal of Microbiology Methods in July 2003, researchers have discovered that basil’s essential oils help prevent the growth of disease causing bacteria, even those that are resistantto antibiotics. 


3.       3. Reduces inflammation

Basil may help in the reduction of pain and swelling. Eugenol, one of the volatile oils in this plant, has a comparable effect to various pain relievers on the market, such as aspirin and ibuprofen.


 4. Cares for the heart.

Basil contains a sufficient supply of beta-carotene. More powerful than Vitamin A itself, this “pro-vitamin A” protect cells that from lining of blood vessels from free radical damage. It also prevent the buildup of cholesterol in blood vessel walls and atherosclerosis. Basil extract can hinder blood clotting, making it effective in averting heart attack or stroke. Because it has magnesium that relaxes muscles and blood vessels, basil can improve circulation and lessen the chances of irregular heartbeats of heart muscle spasms.


4.       5. Maintains healthy bowel movement

Basil seeds soaked in water become gelatinous and are used to in Asian drinks and desserts. The fiber acts as laxative or and diuretic, and is beneficial for those suffering from diarrhea or constipiation.


Like a Balm

Due to its essential oils, basil leaves and other parts can be used medically when chewed, boiled, or applied directly on the skin.

·       To calm coughing and facilitate the release of mucus, fresh leaves may be chewed or prepared as a decoction. “Boil eight tablespoon of fresh leaves into two glass of water for 15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half. Divide the decoction into eight parts and take one part 3x a day”. Source: .2009 N.p., Web. 1 Nov. 2021. <>.

·         Boiled basil leaves can be used for gargling to relieve sore throat. 

·         People who would like to quit smoking will find that chewing fresh basil leaves has a cooling effect on the throat. It offers a wholesome distraction, plus the antioxidants can repair years of damage from smoking.

·         Chewing leaves daily can also protect against stress, ulcer, and mouth infection.

·         Dizziness can be alleviated by sniffing fresh leaves that have been crushed with the fingers.

·         Crushed or chewed basil can be rubbed on insect bites or bee stings to relieve itching and swelling. Mixing basil with coconut oil also relieve pain from cuts and wounds.

·         As an antifungal, basic juice is effective against ringworm and other common skin ailments.

·         Basil facial steam helps alleviate headache. Just add a tablespoon of dried basil leaves to two cups of boiling water in a big pot. Cover your head with a towel and carefully lean over the pot. Bathe in the steam for 5-10 minutes until headaches subsides. 



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