Basil belongs to the same family of plants as peppermint, this is why its leaves look somewhat similar in shape.
Basil originally came from India, Iran and other warm and tropical parts of Asia. It is a low-growing plant that needs a dry and hot climate because it does not flourish in cold weather.
Basil is a spice that can be added to cooked dishes at the end of the process in order to maintain the flavor. It is best to use fresh basil in the appropriate season.
The most usual types of basil are sweet basil, which is used in Italian cuisine, and Thai basil, which is widely used in Asia. This type is also called holy basil. There are many types of basil. The most interesting to mention might be those with names that describe their specific flavors, cinnamon basil, anise basil, and even lemon basil.
Basil has many positive medical effects. The essential oil of basil has antioxidant effects and helps in defeating problems related to aging or even cancer. Basil,s essential oil also has anti bacterial effect. It has been proven that the growth of some bacteria becomes restricted with the presence of basil.
The anti-inflammatory quality of basil is very useful in the treatment of arthritis. A substance called eugenol can be found in basil oil. What makes it special in its ability to block cyclooxygenase, a body enzyme that causes swelling.
Flavonoids found in basil protect cells and chromosomes from oxidation and radiation damages.
Beta-carotene is a well known antioxidant that can also be found in basil. By decreasing the damage from free radicals, basil helps in fighting the development of arthritis and cancer.
Magnesium is found in basil as well, which helps the blood flow by relaxing muscles and blood vessels. This reduces the risk of irregular rhythm in blood vessels and heart.
Vitamin C and Vitamin K, as well as calcium, iron, and potassium, can be found in basil, which is also rich with dietary fibers.
The essential oil of basil can be used to moisturize hair and skin as well. It can also help in the treatment of skin problems such as psoriasis or acne.
Basil tea helps in the treatment of stomach problems such as cramps, constipation, flatulence, indigestion, and gas. Basil's essential oil can also help against vomiting and sea-sickness.
Essential oil of basil relieves problems caused by cold, flu, bronchitis, asthma, sinus infections and whooping cough.
Using basil essential oil for aromatherapy relaxes and calms. This is very useful against depression, migraines and other problems connected to stress.
Food poisoning can be prevented by adding basil and thyme to uncooked foods.