Spice Rack Remedies
Healing Qualities of Basil
This highly fragrant plant whose sweet leaves are used as a seasoning for many different types of foods also comes with different health benefits. Flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level, protecting cell structures as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage.
Volatile oils found in basil have been found to provide protection against unwanted bacterial growth and could pose as a treatment for antibiotic resistant bacteria. Studies have shown that by washing produce in a solution containing 1% basil essential oil dramatically reduced any bacteria. For this reason it is a good idea to add basil to salads and raw food recipes to ensure the produce is safe to eat.
A component of basil’s volatile oils that has been heavily studied is eugenol, a substance that has been found to block the activity of a specific enzyme that causes inflammation; in the same way as anti-inflammatory medications. Eugenol in basil qualifies it as a natural “anti-inflammatory” food that can provide relief to inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel conditions.
Basil is an excellent source of beta-carotene, an anti-oxidant that protects cells from free radical damage. Beta-carotene also helps prevent the oxidizing of cholesterol in the blood stream which then can build up on blood vessel walls, which results in atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. Basil can also protect against the free radical damage that is a contributing factor to conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Basil nicely complements tomato-based recipes and is enjoyable in pestos with olive oil, garlic and onions. When cooking with basil it is best to add the herb near the end of the cooking process, so it will best retain its sweet aroma and flavour.
Written by: J. Marshall