Just last week, a colleague from the local library where I volunteer returned from her Taiwanese vacation. She paid me a visit over the weekend and brought bags of dried Basil leaves for me. I was really grateful but had no idea what to do with them. I decided to drop by the house of my gardener friend to ask what he knew about the herb and how it could help me. After sharing a bag of the leaves with him plus a steaming cup of green tea, he told me of the many health benefits that can be got from the leaf. I’ll share some of them with you. First, let’s get to know this herb!
What’s with the Name?
Quite a lot, I must say. In fact, the name ‘Basil’ is a derivative from the Latin word; Basilius, which means a kingly plant. Talk about royalty! The plant is also referred to as the Great Basil or Saint-Joseph’s wort. Interesting, right?
What is the Basil?
Ocimum basilicum, as it is referred to botanically, is a culinary herb that belongs to the plant family of mints known as Lamiaceae. Culinary herbs are plants that are most revered for the flavor they give to food. The Basil herb is a soft and tender-like plant that is used in cooking; globally.
Where Is it from?
The Central African and Southeast Asian tropics are believed to be the home of the Great Basil. However, the plant can also be found in other tropical regions.
Is the Basil Leaf Useful outside the Kitchen?
Apparently yes! When I heard that the royal plant is a culinary herb, I wondered just how much of food I could cook in order to exhaust the large supply I had. Fortunately, my gardener friend told me that there is a lot more to the Basil leaf herb than making Basil pestos and other continental and intercontinental dishes. He told me six non-culinary things I could use my basil leaves for. I’ll share them with you.
Use your Basil Leaf for Facial Steams
If you have a terrible headache but there is no painkiller around, you can use your basil leaves to prepare a facial steam that can help deal with your migraine. How do you go about this? It’s really easy. All you need to do is put a cup or two of dried basil leaves into a large pot of boiling water. Lean over the boiling pot carefully, place a towel over your head and inhale the minty, spicy steam for five to ten minutes. Repeat this exercise once or twice until the headache begins to go away. The best part of doing this is: There is a bonus! Apart from chasing away the pain, you get to walk around with a deep minty and spicy scent for the rest of the day. Now, how cool is that?
Dealing with Stings and Bites
Working outdoors is fun. However, one thing that takes the fun out of it is when you get bitten by tiny, crawling insects and you have to deal with the scratches and swellings that come with it. When next you go outdoors, make sure you have a basil leaf with you. When the insects strike (which they are likely to do), do not fret. Instead, chew your basil leaf and rub some of it on the swollen area. This will help a lot.
The stress that comes with everyday activities can be managed with the use of basil leaves. After gardening, my friend says he adds two cups of Basil tea to his bath and this helps him feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
The herb is considered a spiritual and religious herb in many parts of India and Israel. Many Jews believe that the herb gives strength to persons who are engaged in religious fasts. This is why it is referred to as The Holy Herb.
Preventing Grey Hair
For many of us, going grey is something we will rather not have to happen. Basil leaves can help your hair retain its youthful color and prevent the grey hairs from springing up in geometric progression. Simply create a mixture of basil leaves with amla powder and coconut oil. Soak the basil leaves and amla powder overnight, then add your coconut oil to the mix and wash off the intending grey.
Dealing with Baldness
So, you don’t want to be bald just yet; basil leaves are all you need. A basil paste can help to prevent hair loss. Simply massage the paste into the hair area to reduce itching in your scalp region and also enhance blood flow to your hair follicles.
Are there any Heath Benefits that Come with Using the Kingly Herb?
This multi-purpose herb has a lot to give health wise. I’ll tell you 6 reasons you should not miss a basil leaf or two the next time you go shopping.
Helping your Digestive System
Say goodbye to indigestion, constipation and other gastrointestinal issues with a healthy dosage of the Great Basil. The Basil leaf herb is believed to soothe the stomach and stop you from feeling bloated after a meal. Nutritionists say that nearly a teaspoon of dried or fresh basil leaf immersed in warm water can calm the stomach and prevent the production of intestinal gases.
The basil leaf herb is a natural detoxifier. The herb helps to cleanse your body system; removing body toxins and other harmful material. It also removes bad cholesterol that can clog the skin and bring about acne and other related skin conditions.
A Healthier Skin
Natural skin glow can be achieved with the help of the basil leaf herb. The herb is enriched with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances that help to give your skin a natural glow. In addition, blackheads and other acne types can be prevented by placing wet basil leaves on your face for some minutes and then washing your face well with cold water. Skin scars can also be removed with the basil leaf. The anti-bacterial properties of the herb can cleanse the skin pores too.
Winning the War against Cancer
Researchers say that there are great possibilities that the basil helps will be a potent tool in the fight against cancer. According to them, the basil herb contains photochemical compounds that may be useful in cancer prevention; especially liver and lung cancers.
The basil herb seems to speed up antioxidant activities in the body and slows cell division. In addition, it triggers cell death and replacement and helps to change the gene expression.
The Antioxidant Reservoir
High antioxidant activity is characteristic of the basil leaf herb. In addition, the herb has a number of antibacterials. This high antibacterial content is often credited to the volatile oils that form the essential components of the plant. These include Limonene and Myrcene. The basil herb prevents the growth of harmful bacteria on food. This means that apart from enjoying the spice, having basil leaves in your dish makes it healthier too. The plant is rich in a number of body-building nutrients like calcium, potassium, and iron.
A lot of research has not gone into determining just how safe long-term use of the herb is. However, short-term use is considered to be relatively safe and is encouraged.
Now, I know what to use my bags of Basil leaves for and all of a sudden, it seems I do not even have enough of them. I’m planning a visit to Taiwan myself and I’ll definitely return with a year’s supply of Basil leaves. Maybe I’ll give you some too.