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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Alternative medicine: Basil

Wed, 16 Jan 2008 22:04:07
By Patricia Khashayar, MD., Press TV, Tehran

Since ancient times, basil has been used to treat diabetes, asthma, heart problems, inflammatory diseases and respiratory ailments.

Botanical: Ocymum basilicum
Family: N.O. Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Synonym: Basilic, basilikum, basilienkraut, tulsi, albahaca, sweet basil

Habitat:

It is native to warm, tropical climates such as Central Africa and Southeast Asia.

Description:

Basil is a perennial low-growing herb with light green, silky leaves. Its big white-colored flowers are arranged in terminal spikes.

There are over 60 varieties of basil, each with a specific flavor.

Part Used Medicinally:

Leafy tops.

Constituents:

Basil is an excellent source of dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and vitamin A, C and K.

It contains high concentrations of carotenoids like beta carotene which are converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta carotene has more benefits than vitamin A alone, and is known to be a powerful antioxidant.

The different scents of various basils are attributed to different essential oils.

Medicinal Uses:

Basil is a traditional treatment for headaches, coughs, diarrhea, constipation, warts, worms, and kidney malfunctions.

Basil has sedative, diuretic, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic and cough-relieving properties and is therefore used to treat coughs, colds, and pharyngeal inflammations.

It is also used as a remedy for chronic gastritis, stomachaches, bronchitis, fever and renal ailments.

Like other aromatic plants such as fennel and tarragon, basil contains estragole, a known carcinogen and teratogen.

Basil's flavonoids protect the cell structures as well as chromosomes against radiation, oxygen-based damage and unwanted bacterial growth.

Its essential oil is believed to be effective in treating special pathogenic bacterial species resistant to antibiotics.

Scientists suggest adding basil and thyme to foods particularly uncooked ones like salads, helps fight against Shigella and the diarrhea secondary to it.

The eugenol component of basil's volatile oils has cyclooxygenase inhibiting enzyme similar to anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

Basil is also a good source of magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health. It relaxes muscles and blood vessels thereby improving blood flow. It also reduces the risk of irregular heart rhythms.

It can also help stress management.

Basil is a natural beta-carotene source and prevents blood vessel damage and cholesterol build-up. By slowing down the atherosclerosis process it prevents heart attacks and strokes.

Basil is a good remedy for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions.

By enhancing insulin secretion basil leaves help control blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Basil leaf tea is good for fatigue, insomnia, seizure, painful menstruation and helps treat ringworms.

Fresh basil leaf extract is used to threat insect bites.

Gargling basil leaf tea will help relieve sore gums.

Basil seed has antibacterial and laxative effects.

Caution:

Diabetics should consult a physician before using basil.

Sweet basil oil has possible carcinogenic effects and should not be used.

PKH/HGH


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