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    Bryce Wylde, BSc, DHMHS, Homeopath
  • on Dec 27, 2018 |

Basil is not only one of the tastiest herbs to use in the kitchen, but also one of the healthiest. Part of the mint family (Lamiaceae), basil likely originated in India, but today it is most commonly associated with Italian and Thai cuisine, and it grows in gardens all over the world. It is still used as medicinal herb in India and elsewhere. 

Basil leaves have traditionally been used to provide relief from indigestion and as a remedy for irritation of the skin and digestive tract. In Thai herbalism, the plant is also used for coughs. It has a long list of other uses, including treatment for stomach spasms, kidney conditions, and insect bites. The plant has antiviral, antibacterial, and antiproliferative (inhibiting the growth of malignant cells) effects. It even has some insecticidal properties, possibly because it contains methyl cinnamate. 

Basil has been used orally as an appetite stimulant, antiflatulent, diuretic, lactation stimulant, gargle and mouth astringent. It’s a rich source of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. 

The herb contains strong-smelling oils that are composed primarily of compounds called terpenoids, which give it its unmistakable aroma. Essential oils such as these are used in in perfume and aromatherapy. They are also the reason basil is such a health-promoting herb: some of these terpenoids—particularly eugenol, thymol, and estragole—play a role in the plant’s antibacterial properties, for example. Thymol (which is found in even higher concentrations in thyme) is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.