The Romans assimilated it with love and devotion, so it was believed that a man would forever love a woman from whom he will accept a sprig of basil. In India, basil is cherished as a symbol of welcoming, and in Ayurveda one of the types of basil (Holy basil or tulsi, lat. Ocimum tenuiflorum) is used for the treatment of many illnesses – diabetes, asthma, impotence, infertility, kidney stones and allergies.
The first ever written record of basil is four millenniums old and comes from ancient Egypt. The word basil (ital. Basilica) comes from the Greek basilikon, which means royal and reflects respect for ancient cultures for this plant.
Basil is known for the fact that it has strong antioxidant properties. Antioxidants that we naturally find in basil protect the body from harm caused by free radicals, prevent the aging of cells and the formation of some types of cancer. Antioxidants are believed to be an important part of a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle, and basil is their reliable and efficient source.
One of the antioxidants from the basil is beta-carotene. Beta-carotene, which is converted in the body into vitamin A, stops the oxidation of cholesterol in the bloodstream and in that way protects the blood vessels and the heart. The damage caused by independent radicals contributes to the development of many other illnesses, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. The beta-carotene from the basil is an excellent way to stop these diseases.
Protects the heart and blood vessels
Basil is a good source of magnesium and vitamin B6. The vitamin prevents the expansion of potentially dangerous molecule homocysteine. Magnesium stimulates cardiovascular health by helping relax blood vessels and the muscles. Thus promotes blood flow and lowers the risk of abnormal heart rhythm. Magnesium makes the heart muscle stronger and acts preventative against heart attack.
Research has shown that basil oil has a useful effect on the immune system. Basil oil and fresh basil leaves have antiseptic and antibacterial effects and can be used in the treatment of infections. You can also use basil locally – basil leaves placed on wounds to prevent bacterial infection.
Read how to use this herb in the kitchen on page 2 =>