If you enjoy cooking, you’ve probably used basil in some of your dishes. Basil is an herb in the mint family, along with mint, oregano and rosemary. Believe it or not, there are actually 35 different types of basil, including holy basil, known for it’s healing properties. If you’re looking for basil in the form of essential oils, you can find at least six different oils within the herb’s seeds, roots, leaves and stem. The herb has natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that offer many medicinal benefits. Health benefits of basil include the ability to fight off disease, infection and inflammation in the body.
Health Benefits of Basil
1. Fights Disease
Health benefits of basil include the ability to fight disease. The herb contains powerful antioxidants that help fight free radical damage and protect DNA. The antioxidants in basil also help protect the white blood cells that play a key role in immune function. By reducing oxidative stress, health benefits of basil also include the ability to slow aging.
2. Reduces Inflammation
Health benefits of basil include the ability to reduce inflammation in the body that can cause disease. Basil contains oils that are able to inhibit certain enzymes and lower inflammation levels. Health benefits of basil include a reduced risk of inflammatory diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
3. Fights Cancer
Health benefits of basil include the ability to fight cancer. Research published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that basil contains healing phytochemicals. The phytochemicals in basil help fight cancer by increasing antioxidant activity, altering gene expression and inducing cancer cell death. Studies have shown that basil can help naturally prevent chemical-induced skin, liver, oral and lung cancers. (1)
4. Provides Antibacterial Properties
Health benefits of basil include powerful antibacterial properties. Basil helps protect the body from bacterial growth. Research has shown that basil extract is able to inhibit some resistant strains of bacteria that do not respond to antibiotics. Researchers from the Medical University of Lodz in Poland found that basil was effective in treating strains of E. coli and other powerful infection-causing bacteria. (2)
5. Provides Antimicrobial Properties
Thanks to its powerful antimicrobial activity, basil is able to protect the body from a wide range of bacteria. Studies have shown that basil essential oils exhibit antimicrobial activity against different bacteria, yeasts, molds and viruses, including candida.
6. Combats Stress
Basil is an adaptogen herb, which means it can help the body better adapt to stress. In an animal study, researchers found that basil was able to protect the cardiovascular and respiratory systems in stressful situations. The herb significantly decreased blood sugar levels and increased antioxidant activity in response to stressors.
7. Fights Depression
Health benefits of basil include the ability to fight mood-related illness, including anxiety and depression. The herb works to stimulate neurotransmitters that regulate hormones in the body. It work as a natural antidepressant, thanks to the positive impact it has on brain function.
8. Promotes Cardiovascular Health
As an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory, basil is able to promote cardiovascular health. It relaxes the muscles that control blood vessel function and works to reduce high blood pressure. Basil also increases heart health by lowering inflammation levels and preventing high cholesterol.
9. Supports Liver Function
Health benefits of basil include the ability to support liver function and improve digestion. According to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, basil extract was able to produce detoxifying enzymes that helped reduce fat buildup in the liver. (3)
10. Improves Digestion
Basil improves digestion by encouraging proper pH levels in the body. It promotes the development of healthy bacteria in the gut while flushing out harmful bacteria. Basil can also help treat bloating, stomach cramps and acid reflux, as well as stomach worms and parasites.
11. Works as an Aphrodisiac
Basil’s aroma is believed to help naturally increase libido. The herb works to reduce inflammation, increase blood flow and improve energy levels, suggesting that it may come in handy as a natural aphrodisiac.
12. Fights Diabetes
By reducing inflammation and improving glucose levels, basil offers protection from diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Research has shown that basil supplementation can be a safe and effective way to help control diabetes symptoms. (4)