Basil

Historical data

The word basil comes from the Greek word king. The Greek tradition connects the plant to the St. Helena: When she went to Palestine in search of the Holy Cross, she saw a bush that smelt wonderlully. She considered it divine sign. She dug under the root and found the Holy Cross, the most sacred symbol of the Christian world.

Basil is one of the most popular herbs and its scientific name is Ocimum basilicum. Though originated in India, now grows in many regions around the world, but in ancient times it was brought in Europe where it became very popular in the Mediterranean basin. In Greece it was brought by Alexander the Great after returning from his campaign in India. It is certain, however, that the Greeks knew it long before Alexander's campaign and it was referred by many poets before him. The Romans considered it an erotic filter and a sign of love and amulet. The Gauls used it in ceremonies of purification with spring water, where the Christian Orthodox custom of blessing with basil possibly has its roots. Traditionally, in India it is used as an adjunct therapy for asthma and diabetes. Dioscorides recommended the use of basil for the treatment of dysuria.

Today there are several varieties of basil which have distinct scents. This is because the herb has a number of different essential oils in different proportions for different species. Thus, e.g., the carnation like odor of sweet basil is derived from eugenol, the same chemical component as the real clove, whereas the citrus scent of basil is derived from citral, which gives the peeled lemon its aroma.

Healing properties

Nowadays basil is used in gardening, perfumery, culinary, confectionery and in pharmacy.

The drink of basil helps digestion, calms the stomach and intestine and further helps weak memory, melancholy and nervous pain. In general its use is associated with the stomach and other related organs. The basil extract acts beneficially in cases of stomatitis, herpes labialis, migraines, headaches and nausea. The essential oil of basil affects almost all the systems of our body. It stimulates the nervous system, fights stress, anxiety, mental fatigue and helps concentration. Moreover relieves cough, flu and colds, depression and weakness. Because of its tonic properties, basil is used in kidney diseases. It is used as an antispasmodic, carminative and appetizer (carminative).

Recently, there have been many studies on the health benefits of basil. In vitro scientific studies have shown that the essential oil of basil has a strong antioxidant (it contains beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin), antiviral and antimicrobial properties.

The flavonoids (orientin and vicenin) protect cells and finally eugenol the citronellol and limonene have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties in the same manner as non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and can provide symptomatic relief in rheumatoid arthritis or chronic bowel inflammation. Additionally, basil has been shown to reduce the presence of platelet aggregation and experimental thrombus in mice.

Basil is rich in provitamin A, which helps in asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is also a good source of magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health, potassium, vitamin C, iron and calcium.

Cooking

Basil is still considered by many chefs, as the "king of herbs". The leaves can be kept dry, hermetically sealed in glass jars, or in the freezer. In cooking dried leaves of the broadleaf variety are mainly used. It aromatizes various roasts, salads, stews, soups etc. while it goes with sauces that are based on fresh tomato. 

 

A spoon of fresh basil (5g) contains

Water

4.9 g

Potassium

16 mg

Energy

1 Kcal

Sodium

0 mg

Proteins

0,17 gr

Zink

0,04 mg

Fat

0,03 gr

Vitamin C

1 mg

Carbohydrates

0,14 gr

Thiamine

0,002 mg

Fibers

0,1 gr

Riboflavin

0,004 mg

Calcium

9 mg

Niacin

0,048 mg

Iron

0,17 mg

VitaminΒ-6

0,008 mg

Magnesium

3 mg

Vitamin Α

280 IU

Phosphorus

3 mg

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Bagamboula CF, Uyttendaeleand M, Debevere J. Inhibitory effect of thyme and basil essential oils, carvacrol, thymol, estragol, linalool and p-cymene towards Shigella sonnei and S. flexneri . Food Microbio 2004 Feb;21 (1):33-42. 2004.

Elgayyar M, Draughon FA, Golden DA, Mount JR. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils from plants against selected pathogenic and saprophytic microorganisms. J Food Prot 2001 Jul;64(7):1019-24. 2001.

Opalchenova G, Obreshkova D. Comparative studies on the activity of basil--an essential oil from Ocimum basilicum L.--against multidrug resistant clinical isolates of the genera Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas by usi. J Microbiol Methods. Jul;54(1):105-10. 2003.

Orafidiya LO, Oyedele AO, Shittu AO, Elujoba AA. The formulation of an effective topical antibacterial product containing Ocimum gratissimum leaf essential oil. Int J Pharm 2001 Aug 14;224(1-2):177-83. 2001.

 

 

 

 

Basil
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