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How To Use Basil

 
By Ameera Mills. Updated: September 4, 2018
How To Use Basil

Basil, also known as Ocimum basilicum, is a plant with large or broad green leaves. Basil is commonly used for both its culinary and medicinal properties. You can buy basil fresh from a store or easily grow it in your garden, which adds to its popularity.

Because this plant has so many uses and benefits, here at OneHOWTO, we will be explaining how to use basil. Not only will we be covering both culinary and medical indications, but we will be discussing its contraindications and how to care for the plant. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about basil.

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Basil types

There are more than 150 varieties of basil. The most common is alhabega (basil), with its large and broad leaves. Then we the second most common, Ocimum minimum or small leaf basil. The third most common basil species is Ocimum tenuiflorum, otherwise known as purple basil. These are the three main species of this medicinal and aromatic plant: used to treat health problems and flavor dishes.

However, not all of these plants are used in the same way. For example, alhabega is commonly used in cooking while small leaf basil is not.

Medicinal uses of basil

Studies carried out by the departments of biochemistry, Seema Dental College & Hospital, and pathology, King George's Medical University [1], presented the compositions, medicinal uses and properties of basil.

Basil composition

Alhabega or basil is widely used for its composdition as a medicinal plant. Basil is composed of essential oils, such as: eugenol, linalool, estragole, and flavonoids, such as: aesculin, quercetroside, saponosides, linalyl acetate and caffeic acid. It also contains several different vitamins including: vitamin A, several of group B, C, E and K.

These components are not only found in the plant’s leaves (the only part used in cooking), but also in other parts of the plant, such as its: flowers, roots, seeds and stems.

Properties of basil

Thanks to these main basil components, this plant functions as an;

  • Antioxidant
  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Antivirals
  • Relaxer
  • Digestive
  • Antiemetic
  • Stimulants (respiratory system and expectorants)
  • Analgesic
  • Antihistamine
  • Glucose regulator
  • Diaphoretic or sudorific
  • Hypotensive
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Hyipolipidemic

Medicinal uses of basil

The therapeutic and medicinal uses of basil are highlighted for:

  • Stimulating the immune system and preventing premature aging.
  • Facilitating digestion.
  • Stimulating appetite.
  • Preventing vomiting.
  • Relieving heartburn.
  • Removing mucus from the respiratory system.
  • Calming asthma.
  • Relieving pain.
  • Relaxing and calming anxiety.
  • Treating bacterial infections.
  • Eliminating fungal infections.
  • Helping to overcome viruses.
  • Reducing allergies.
  • Treating mild cases of diabetes or hyperglycemia.
  • Decreasing fever.
  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Protecting the liver.
  • Aiding in hepatic detoxification treatment.
  • Regulating cholesterol.
How To Use Basil - Medicinal uses of basil

How to use basil for cooking

Basil is most commonly used in Mediterranean diets but can be found worldwide. Small leaf basil is not usually used for cooking because it is considered toxic, although in reality, its harmful effects can only occur when used in large quantities.

Below, we have listed the most common culinary uses for basil, highlighting its use in: dressings, seasonings, salads, sauces, tea and oil.

Pesto sauce

Basil pesto is one of the main ingredients in most Italian meals. Not only is it delicious, but its easy to make. All you need to make this sauce is : basil, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic and salt.

Basil tea

This infusion is popular among aromatic beverage lovers. It is one of the easiest ways to ingest this plant. Add a few drops of lemon into hot water and mix with mint or add a little honey.

Basil oil

Another way to benefit from basil is by adding it to olive oil and using it in your dishes.

How To Use Basil - How to use basil for cooking

How to preserve basil

You can buy fresh basil as a whole plant or as loose leaves. You can find the plants at gardening stores and buy loose leaves at local supermarkets or natural product stores.

If you choose to buy the basil essential oil, we recommend preserving it in a dark glass jar in direct sunlight. In the case of dry basil, keep it packaged in a tightly closed bag or airtight jar (in a cool/dry place). If you have basil branches or loose leaves, we suggest keeping them in an airtight jar, out of direct sunlight.

How To Use Basil - How to preserve basil

How to care for a basil plant

Growing basil can be very simple, follow these tips:

  • A basil plant requires good irrigation and effective pot drainage. Always keep its soil damp, but not too wet. If a basil plant dries out it will die. Give it extra attention during hotter seasons, where you might need to water the basil more.
  • When you see flowers sprouting from your basil plant, cut them when they are buds. The reason for this is that once a flowering cycle ends, the plant will die, therefore you want to try avoid this. Another option is to sow the seeds of the basil flower once the plant has died.
  • Place it in a semi-shade area, as direct sunlight can easily damage it.
  • The ideal temperature for basil to grow well: is between 20ºC and 25ºC.
How To Use Basil - How to care for a basil plant

Contraindications of basil

As well as its beneficial properties, there are some contraindications to basil. The contraindications of basil include:

  • Possible allergy to the plant.
  • Its consumption is not recommended in case of pregnancy or nursing.
  • It can interfere with some medications, specifically with hypertension medication or anticoagulants.
  • Basil essential oil should not be used internally, only externally.
  • In the case of children, a specialist should indicate basil dosages whether taken as a plant or in oil form. Common doses in adults can be toxic for children.
  • In the case of gastrointestinal problems in which there is a lot of irritation or ulcers, basil oil can cause more discomfort.
  • If you are experiencing any dermatitis or severe skin irritations: the topical use of basil essential oil is discouraged.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How To Use Basil, we recommend you visit our Drugs & supplements category.

References

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