Basil can be used as an herb and essential oil to provide health benefits in the diet.
Trusted sources of traditional uses include treating snakebites, colds, and nasal inflammation—for example, the common effects of colds.
Basil provides some macronutrients, such as calcium and vitamin K, as well as a series of antioxidants.
For example, sweet basil contains a high concentration of the chemical agent eugenol. This gives it a lilac-like fragrance. Lime and lemon basil contain high concentrations of limonene, giving them a citrus fragrance. Both the trusted source of eugenol and the trusted source of limonene have antioxidant properties.
Reduce oxidative stress
Antioxidants are essential to eliminate free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are unstable molecules produced by metabolism and other natural processes. They may also be formed by smoking and certain dietary choices.
Antioxidants are compounds that help remove these molecules from the body. If they accumulate instead, oxidative stress will occur, causing cell damage and possibly disease.
Scientists trusted sources have linked cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and other health problems to oxidative stress.
The body produces some antioxidants, but it also needs to absorb some from the diet. Many of the antioxidants in basil include a trusted source of anthocyanins and beta-carotene.
Support liver health
A 2015 study trusted source concluded in rats that the antioxidants in powder formulations including tulsi or holy basil have a positive effect on liver health. Scientists applied the powder after using toxins to induce liver damage.
Tulsi-a plant that is very different from the basil found in ordinary Western supermarkets-plays an important role in traditional Indian medicine.
A study published in 2013 by a review of trusted sources looked at whether tulsi or holy basil can prevent cancer. The authors concluded that the phytochemicals in holy basil may help prevent certain types of skin cancer, liver cancer, oral cancer, and lung cancer.
They seem to do this by increasing antioxidant activity, altering gene expression, triggering cell death, and slowing cell division. However, the studies in this review were preclinical or conducted in animals. Confirming the effect requires further research.
Prevent skin aging
According to research trusted sources, sweet basil published in 2011 has properties that may help protect the skin from certain aging effects.
In this study, scientists applied basil extract to a laboratory skin model. The results show that adding basil extract to topical skin creams may improve skin moisture and reduce roughness and wrinkles.
Although certain doses of basil extract may have this effect, consumption of basil is not necessarily beneficial to the skin.
However, if people consume the antioxidants in basil and other plant foods as part of a varied diet, they may have a protective effect.
Reduce high blood sugar
Some practitioners of traditional medicine usually recommend basil to help control blood sugar levels.
A trusted source for 2019 study found that sweet basil leaf extract in rats helps reduce high blood sugar levels. The results also indicate that basil leaves may help treat the long-term effects of high blood sugar.
If further investigation confirms these findings, basil extract may be useful for diabetics.
Support cardiovascular health
A 2011 review of trusted sources report found that sweet basil extract can temporarily reduce high blood pressure, which may be due to the eugenol content of the extract. Eugenol can block calcium channels in the body and reduce high blood pressure.
However, after the researchers used the extract for 2 minutes, the blood pressure returned to a high level.
In another study, 24 healthy volunteers took a placebo or a capsule containing 300 milligrams (mg) of dried tulsi leaf extract once a day.
After 4 weeks, people who took Tulsi extract had lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than people who did not take it. The authors concluded that the extract helps reduce some risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Promote mental health
Mental stress can trigger the production of free radicals in the body.
According to a 2014 review of trusted sources, the role of Tulsi in Ayurvedic medicine has been studied. The plant contains properties that may help:
- Relieve stress, anxiety and depression
- Increase the ability to think and reason
- Prevent age-related memory loss
- Improve stress-related sleep and sexual problems
The authors report that some studies have produced results comparable to those of diazepam and antidepressants. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings. In addition, consumption of tulsi (such as in tea) is unlikely to have the same effect as receiving a certain dose of the extract.
Reduce inflammation and swelling
Oxidative stress can cause inflammation, which is a factor in many diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
In 2017, researchers from trusted sources analyzed the anti-inflammatory properties of two sweet basil essential oil preparations.
According to their findings, basil oil may help treat various diseases, which involve inflammation caused by oxidative stress.
However, it is not clear whether eating basil will produce the same effect.
Various practitioners of traditional medicine use basil as an antibacterial agent, and some scientific studies support this use.
In 2013, researchers trusted sources applied sweet basil oil to various E. coli or E. coli strains. Bacteria come from people with infections of the respiratory tract, abdomen, urinary system or skin, as well as hospital equipment. The results show that the oil is active against these bacteria.
Researchers have concluded that certain preparations of basil oil can help treat or prevent certain types of infections.
|nutrient||Content in a tablespoon of 2.6 grams of basil||Daily adult requirements|
|Vitamin A (μg, RAE)||6.9||700–900|
|β-carotene (mcg)||81.7||no data|
|β-cryptoxanthin (mcg)||1.2||no data|
|Lutein and Zeaxanthin (mcg)||147.0||no data|
|Vitamin K (micrograms)||10.8||75–120|
In addition to these nutrients, basil also contains a variety of B vitamins, trace iron and other minerals, as well as a series of additional antioxidants.
Basil is an aromatic herb with a unique flavor that many people like. Different types have different flavors.
In terms of cooking, sweet basil is the most popular variety in the United States, but people also use lemon basil, clove basil, cinnamon basil and other types.
One person can:
- Sprinkle or wrap freshly chopped basil on the pizza.
- Put some basil leaves on the tomato slices and mozzarella cheese, then drizzle olive oil on the plate.
- Add basil to soups, tomato sauce, and stir-fries.
- Make a marinade with basil, olive oil, and chopped garlic.
- Add whole, chopped or shredded fresh leaves to the salad.
Or, try these recipes:
- Fried Basil Chili Chicken
- Fresh basil pesto
- Spaghetti with Tomato Basil Sauce
Just 1 tablespoon of trusted source basil provides 10.8 mcg of vitamin K, which plays a role in blood clotting. This amount is 9% to 12% of an adult's daily requirement from a trusted source.
High levels of vitamin K can affect the effects of certain drugs, including warfarin (coumarin). Anyone who uses blood thinners should consult a doctor before increasing their basil intake.
Some people will have an allergic reaction if they consume or otherwise come into contact with herbs of the peppermint family.
Anyone with this allergy should avoid eating basil and check prepared foods to make sure it is not an ingredient.
If a person develops hives, swelling or difficulty breathing after eating basil, they should receive emergency medical attention.
A severe allergic reaction may become an allergic reaction, which is a life-threatening emergency.
Adding basil to a varied and healthy diet may bring benefits.
However, research on the medicinal benefits of basil has focused on extracts rather than adding herbs to the diet.
In addition, many available studies have investigated the properties of holy basil or tulsi, which is a plant different from the plants commonly used in cooking.
In addition, there is not enough scientific evidence to confirm many of these uses.