Basil - Ocimum Basilicum
Botanical Name: Ocimum Basilicum
Common Name: Great Basil, St. Joseph's Wort, Thai Basil
What is basil?
Basil can be found growing in many tropical regions in Asia, including in India where it is revered as a holy plant mainly for the multiple medicinal benefits it offers. Not surprising then, to note that the humble basil is often called the ‘King of Herbs’ or ‘Royal Plant’. This short lived plant is part of the Lamiaceae family and is primarily grown for its lush oval shaped leaves which are used as a herb.
Basil contains a range of natural antioxidants, which can help protect body tissues against free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable atoms. To become stable, they take electrons from other atoms and form chains. These chains of free radicals cause oxidative stress to the body and cause more damage to the cells. To reduce the oxidative stress in the body, one must up the intake of antioxidants. Basil contains two important water-soluble flavonoid antioxidants, known as orientin and viceninare. These potent antioxidants may strengthen the immune system, help maintain cellular structure, DNA and may even slow down effects of skin ageing.
How to consume basil:
The basil leaves are usually used as a whole in many ways. They can be boiled in hot water for relieving chest congestion, enjoyed as a herbal tea and used as a gargle. Pastes made by using the leaves can be applied directly to a hot forehead or to the skin to soothe insect bites. Oil pressed from the leaves can also be used to treat external ailments. Dried basil leaves can be used as a natural flavoring agent in any dish.