Basil is an annual herb that grows worldwide. It grows to be 1-2 feet high and features flowers in a variety of colors, including white, red, or purple.1 It’s a plant in the mint family native to India but can grow in hot, dry climates. It’s also a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamin A.2
There are numerous types of basil, including bush basil and sweet basil.3 The basil leaves are often dried and uses as a kitchen herb to season a variety of dishes. However, the whole herb can be used in fresh and dry forms to treat a variety of ailments, from nervous disorders to headaches. Basil can be taken orally, in infusions, or used in aromatherapy, and it can easiy be grown in a pot in your own home.2 If growing basil yourself, the plant is typically harvested in July, and you can dry the leaves to preserve them for later use.3
Basil Uses and Health Benefits
Basil benefits include that it contains antioxidant flavonoids, acts as an antimicrobial, and contains anti-inflammatory properties. The herb can be used in aromatherapy as an antidepressant and a stimulant.2 It’s also been used to treat colds, fevers, insect bites, stomach spasms, respiratory infections, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, and more.2,4 Try basil for treating these other conditions:
- Schizophrenia - Basil helps with brain disorders like schizophrenia by protecting your body’s cells against free radicals and by having a calming, stress-relieving effect. Drink basil tea daily to help with the symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Colorectal Cancer (Colon Cancer) - With its high antioxidant content, basil can help fight against cancer cells and prevent new cancer cells from forming in conditions like colorectal cancer.
- Headache - When used in aromatherapy, basil can help calm anxiety and tension and help relieve headaches and nausea. You can also take basil orally to help combat the pain and discomfort of a headache.
- Angina - Angina is a word used to describe chest pain, usually in heart patients. Among basil uses, you can take it orally to help combat this type of pain.
- Depression - Basil benefits individuals suffering from depression. It acts as a mild sedative to help relieve anxiety, both with short-term and long-term treatments, and ease the symptoms of depression. Take it orally to enjoy the many basil benefits.
- Osteoarthritis - Among basil uses, it may help with the joint pain associated with osteoarthritis because it acts as an anti-inflammatory. Take basil orally, either added to your food or steeped in a tea, to help treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
Basil Side Effects and Precautions
Basil side effects are minimal, and it isn’t known to adversely interact with other drugs and herbs.2 Individuals with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, or obesity should proceed with caution as it can have blood-sugar-lowering effects when taken for medicinal purposes. Children should have no problem with a basil diet when eating amounts typically found in food and teas.