What are Basil Leaves?
Basil is a common aromatic herb in the mint family, the same plant family as other nutrient-dense, beneficial herbs, including mint, oregano, and rosemary. Basil, of course, is used to adding flavor to a variety of recipes, but what may surprise you is the many benefits of basil that make it well-known for its immunity-enhancing properties. Basil extract, or basil essential oil, is proven to help prevent a wide range of health conditions, which makes it one of the most important medical herbs known today.
Did you know there are 35 different types of basil? Basil plants come in a range of variety and sizes, but holy basil is the most researched type of basil thus far. Holy basil is the species of basil most known for its powerful healing qualities. To date, at least six different essential oils have been identified in holy basil within its seeds, roots, leaves, and stems. Holy basil, which has the scientific name Ocimum sanctum L. or Ocimum tenuiflorum L., is known to be an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and powerful adaptogen — meaning it helps the body to respond to stress and fight disease.
Basil is an important medicinal plant in various traditional and folk systems of medicines, such as those in Southeast Asia and India. Holy basil is usually referred to as tulsi in India and is considered a sacred herb. It’s been used in over 300 different Ayurvedic herbal treatments for thousands of years, including tinctures, teas, ointments, and tonics. Tulsi is also an important symbol in many other Hindu religious traditions and is linked to the goddess figure; in fact, Tulsi in Sanskrit means “the incomparable one.”
Basil is a good source of vitamin K, A and C, manganese, copper, calcium, iron, folate, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. They have many health benefits which include prevention of diarrhea, aids in digestion, prevents cancer risk, reduces inflammation among others.
Basil Leaves History
Origins of Basil
Basil is called by many names like sweet basil or even Thai basil, but all of its common names refer to the herb’s botanical name, Ocimum basilicum. Basil is a member of the large mint family, or Lamiaceae family, along with other culinary herbs like rosemary, sage, and even lavender.
It is believed that basil has origins in India, but the herb has been cultivated for over 5,000 with its reach spreading to all corners of the globe. There are some indications that basil may have originated even farther east than India with ancient records from 807 A.D. suggesting that sweet basil was used in the Hunan region of China at that time. Basil eventually migrated westward as whole plants as it could be grown easily indoors and away from exposure to cold climates and frost.
Varieties of Basil
With its wide culinary reach, different varieties of the basil plant have been adopted into the cuisines of different cultures. The flavors of sweet basil are all too familiar to Italian dishes where it is used liberally, whereas Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), lemon basil (O. X citriodorum), and holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) have become a staple in many Asian cuisines.
History of Basil
Basil has long been used in culinary traditions, but its history is rich with other uses in society. In ancient Egypt, basil was likely used as an embalming and preserving herb as it has been found in tombs and mummies. Perhaps because of its embalming applications, basil was also a symbol of mourning in Greece where it was known as basilikon phuton, meaning magnificent, royal, or kingly herb. Basil also has a strong history in ancient traditional medicines like Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of ancient India, in addition to other medicinal herbal traditions.
Basil also carried diverse cultural and symbolic meanings throughout history. For instance, in Jewish folklore basil is believed to add strength while fasting. In Portugal, basil plants make up part of a gift to a sweetheart or lover on certain religious holidays. Whereas in ancient Greece, basil symbolized hatred. These are but a few examples of the lasting cultural importance of the herb.
The Use of Basil Today
Basil continues to have diverse applications in modern kitchens and science labs. In cooking, basil is the most commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. More often than not, the fresh leaves are added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the herb’s distinct flavor. But today as also seen throughout history, basil is not only used as a food flavoring, but also in the perfumery, incense, and herbal holistic remedies. Recent scientific studies have established that compounds the essential oil of basil plants possess potent antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties.
Different names of Basil
- English: Basil
- Scientific name: Ocimum basilicum
- Hindi: Tulsi
- Tamil: Tulaci ilaikal
- Telgu: Tulasi akulu
- Kannada: Tulasi elegalu
- Urdu: Tulsi ke patte
- Marathi: Tulasici pane
- Malayalam: Tulasi ilakal
It is also known as Saint Joseph’s Wort
Types Of Basil Leaves
There are some significant botanical differences between various types of basil plants, so when someone refers to generic “basil,” it’s hard to know exactly the type that person is speaking of and what the benefits of that species may be.
All basil plants, for the most part, grow as small plants that produce large green leaves, measuring around two inches in length. Their season is through the warm summer months when they can often be found at farmers’ markets across the U.S.
Some of the many species of basil include sweet basil, lemon basil, Italian or curly basil, holy basil, Thai basil, and lettuce-leaf basil. The flavor and smell of basil varieties vary depending on their unique chemical components and the number of essential oils they contain. The following oils are common across all basil types but are found in varying quantities: cinnamate, citronellol, geraniol, linalool, pinene, and terpineol. Types of Basil
There are some significant botanical differences between various types of basil plants, so when someone refers to generic “basil,” it’s hard to know exactly the type that person is speaking of and what the benefits of that species may be.
Basil Leaves Uses
What isn’t as well know are the various other herbal uses of Basil. It is a traditional remedy that has been used in various cultures for hundreds of years for many uses besides cooking. These are my top uses:
- Basil Pesto– This culinary use is one of Basil’s most popular uses and variations of this are used in cultures around the world. At our house, we add pesto to everything from eggs, to meats, to slices of fresh cucumber. Here’s my recipe.
- General Cooking– Dried basil can be easily added to practically any dish. Basil is used around the world in many different cuisines with good reason. It adds a depth and flavor that is not rivaled by other herbs. I make a homemade spice blend that includes basil and adds it to practically anything.
- Calming the Stomach– The Italians may be on to something with adding Basil to everything. It is thought to have a calming effect on the stomach and 1/2 teaspoon of dried or fresh Basil Leaf in water can often help sooth indigestion and alleviate feelings of fullness.
- Coughing and Colds– I’ve heard several Amish in our area suggest using Basil leaf to help alleviate coughing and colds. They chew fresh leaves to calm coughing or make a calming tea of dried basil to help sooth illness.
- Facial Steam for Headache: A facial steam with dried basil leaves can help alleviate a headache. Add a tablespoon of dried basil leaf to 2 cups of boiling water in a large pot. Carefully lean over the pot, cover head with a towel and breathe in the steam for 5-10 minutes until headache starts to subside. Bonus, you get to smell like an Italian restaurant for the rest of the day!
- Antibiotic properties: According to Mountain Rose Herbs: “European scientists are investigating the use of basil oil as a treatment for antibiotic-resistant infections with Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, and Pseudomonas.”
- Stings and Bites: If you are working outside and get bitten or stung by an insect and don’t have any Plantain growing nearby, chewing up a basil leaf and applying to the bite will help relieve the pain and draw out the venom.
- Ear Infections: Basil essential oil is antibacterial, and drops of basil oil can often relieve ear infections.
- Blood sugar: There is some evidence that Basil can help level out blood sugar if consumed regularly and drank as a juice or tea.
- Stress Reduction: One herbalist I know suggests adding 2 cups of strong Basil Leaf tea to a warm bath to help reduce stress and facilitate relaxation.
If you use Basil as much as we do, I recommend growing it or buying it in bulk to save money.
Basil and Religion
The basil plant has very deep roots in Hinduism and is considered a very sacred herb, often regarded as the manifestation of the female Goddess Lakshmi. It is a very sacred plant that is used for worship and no offering is complete without the Tulsi (Basil) leaf.
Basil Leaves NutritionHealth Benefits of Basil Leaves
One serving of basil contains 0.2g of protein. It is abundant in vitamins and contains 277IU of vitamin A, 0.9mg of vitamin C, 21.8mcg of vitamin K and 3.6mcg of folate. It is also rich in minerals providing 9.3mg of calcium, 0.2mg of iron, 3.4 mg of magnesium, and 2.9 mg of phosphorus, 15.5 mg of potassium, 0.2 mg of sodium and 0.1 mg of manganese.
It is packed full of nutrients. It has had many medicinal uses since the early ages. The components present in basil help fight many diseases and help build immunity. There has been a lot of research to scientifically understand its benefits.
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 22
- Fat 0.6 g
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 4 mg
- Potassium 295 mg – 8% RDA
- Carbohydrate 2.7 g
- Dietary fiber 1.6 g – 6% RDA
- Sugar 0.3 g
- Protein 3.2 g – 6% RDA
- Vitamin A 105% RDA
- Vitamin C 30% RDA
- Calcium 17% RDA
- Iron 17% RDA
- Vitamin B-6 10% RDA
- Magnesium 16% RDA
Health Benefits of Basil Leaves
1. Prevent diarrhea
Basil has anti-bacterial properties. The phytochemicals components in basil leaves can fight the infection of Staphylococcus aureus which is the main cause of diarrhea.
2. Prevents Cancer Risk
Basil leaves have a high antioxidant component which neutralizes free radicals which is the main factor causing DNA damage that later causes the growth of the excessive cells known as cancer.
3. Skin Care
Basil leaves contain vitamin C and phytochemicals which benefit the skin by getting rid of the free radical effect and keep moist skin.
4. Helps Alkalize the Body and Improve Digestion
Basil helps balance acid within the body and restore the body’s proper pH level. This can improve digestion and immunity by helping healthy bacteria flourish within the gut microflora, while also decreasing harmful bacteria that can cause disease.
Other benefits of basil when it comes to improved digestion? Traditionally, basil has also been used to help reduce bloating and water retention, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, acid reflux, and even to kill stomach worms or parasites.
5. Strengthens bones and teeth
Basil is an excellent source of Vitamin K which is known has a great effect on keeping healthy bone and teeth. Vitamin K can help the body to absorb calcium and prevent bones from losing their mass.
6. Treat ear infection
Basil leaves contain essential oils which have an anti-inflammatory effect and can help to cure an ear infection.
7. Heart Health
Basil is very useful for keeping the normal circulation of the blood. It promotes healthy blood vessel function and keeping normal blood pressure. Basil leaves contain anti-inflammatory properties which can prevent platelet aggregation which can cause arteries clot and blocking the blood flow. The phytochemical and antioxidant components in basil leave lower the LDL or Low-density lipoprotein and prevent the accumulation of cholesterol in the blood vessel which later can cause atherosclerosis.
8. Control body acidity
Basil can control body acidity by balancing the pH level. Normal pH level is required in maintaining metabolism and the function of several hormones and enzymes, it also important to keep the healthy immune system, since the normal flora or good bacteria in our body can only live at a certain pH level.
9. Improves Vision
Basil leaves have a high amount of vitamin A is needed to keep the eye muscle and lens in normal function.
10. Reduce inflammation
Basil contains anti-inflammatory properties such as essential oil including citronellol, eugenol, and linalool. Those essential oils are effective to prevent the body and reduce the risk of inflammation such as arthritis and heart disease case.
11. Helps Protect from Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
Basil extracts have been found to reduce circulating blood glucose levels and inflammation, which makes basil protective against diabetes development and other forms of metabolic syndrome. Additionally, benefits of basil essential oils include the ability to help lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, in which diabetic patients are at a higher risk for developing.
When researchers from the Department of Home Science at Azad University of Agriculture and Technology in India investigated the effects of holy basil leaves on blood glucose and serum cholesterol levels in humans through double-blind clinical trials, the results showed that basil caused significant improvements in blood glucose control and mild improvements in cholesterol levels. This suggests that basil supplementation can be a useful and safe way to help control diabetes and complications that result from the disease.
12. Can Act as a Natural Aphrodisiac
In Italy, basil has been considered a symbol of love for centuries. The aroma of basil is believed to increase libido and arousal, possibly by increasing blood flow and energy levels, while reducing inflammation. In the Hindu religion and Ayurveda practices, holy basil (tulsi) is considered the “elixir of life” and is used to promote healthy sexual function and an upbeat mood.
13. Supports Liver Function and Helps Detoxify the Body
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that when sickly rats were given basil extract over five days, they experienced significant improvements in producing detoxifying enzymes, higher antioxidant defenses and a reduction of fat buildup in the liver that can cause liver disease.
14. Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food, basil can help the muscles that control blood vessel function to contract and relax, promoting healthy blood pressure. Benefits of basil include the ability to help prevent dangerous platelet aggregation, clumping together of blood platelets that can form a clot within the arteries and cause cardiac arrest.
Basil extracts also reduce inflammation that can cause cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, proteins that are secreted from cell to cell to communicate and raise the body’s immune defenses.
When this happens for prolonged periods, the body experiences an “inflammatory cascade,” which puts stress on the organs and slows down blood circulation, hormone regulation, and cognitive processes. When it comes to heart health, inflammation can build up fatty, cholesterol-rich plaque in blood vessels and raise the risk for a heart attack or stroke.
15. Fights Depression
Benefits of basil also apply to those with mental disorders or mood-related illnesses, including depression and anxiety. Basil is also considered an antidepressant by some since it can positively impact brain function within the adrenal cortex, helping stimulate neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones responsible for making us happy and energetic.
16. Combats Stress by Acting as an ‘Adaptogen’
Studies show that basil has a strong potential to act as a natural adaptogen, herbal medicine that helps the body adapt to stress and to normalize the harmful effects of stressors on bodily processes.
For example, when researchers studied the anti-stress effects of fresh basil leaves given to rabbits that were exposed to a high-stress environment, they found a significant improvement in oxidative stress levels following basil use. After the rabbits received supplementation of two grams of fresh basil leaves for 30 days, they experienced cardiovascular and respiratory protection in response to stressors. A significant decrease in blood sugar levels was also observed, while a significant increase in antioxidant activity was observed.
17. Contains Antimicrobial Properties that Fight Viruses and Infections
Basil essential oils have been found to exhibit anti-microbial activity against a wide range of bacteria, yeasts, molds, and viruses. This means you can add protection against the candida virus and various forms of skin irritations to the long list of proven benefits of basil.
18. Contains Antibacterial Properties
Another one of the benefits of basil essential oils is to protect harmful bacterial growth. In studies, basil extract is even shown to help inhibit resistant strains of bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotic treatments.
When researchers from the Medical University of Lodz in Poland tested the antibacterial activity of basil oil against strains of E. coli and other powerful bacteria that were gathered from sick patients with infections, the results showed that basil was effective in acting against the bacteria strains and helping to inhibit their growth. This has led researchers to continue to study how basil and other antibacterial oils may help fight antibiotic-resistant illnesses and infections.
19. Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory
Basil contains powerful essential oils, including eugenol, citronellol, and linalool. These are enzyme-inhibiting oils that help lower inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel conditions.
20. Contains Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
One of the key benefits of basil essential oil is the ability to help fight free radical damage while protecting DNA structure and cells. Basil contains two important water-soluble flavonoid antioxidants, known as orientin and vicenary, which help protect white blood cells responsible for immune function, as well as cellular structures where DNA is stored.
Antioxidants found in basil keep chromosomes from becoming altered and resulting in cell mutations and cancerous cell growth. Oxidative stress occurs inside the body due to the effects of toxins in the diet, environmental pollution, and radiation — but antioxidants like the kind found in basil help fight oxidation and slow down the effects of aging.
21. Basil leaf uses for skin beauty
Basil is amazing for your skin beauty. Being having antiseptic properties, it is a useful natural remedy for multiple skin problems and conditions. If you want flawless, blemish and acne-free skin, use basil leaves.
- Acne and pimples: The basil leaves help to remove toxins from the body thereby beneficial in the prevention of acne and pimples. Applying the paste of basil leaves and neem cure acne and pimples.
- Skin scars: The paste of gram flour and basil when applied helps to lead to the whitening of the skin. Tulsi has anti-bacterial properties while gram flour helps to cleanse the skin.
- Facial skincare tip: Before heading to the parlor for your skin, let’s try basil paste. If you want to be younger and brighter in perspective of skin, simply rub or apply a paste of basil leaves on your face. It helps to tone and improves your facial skin.
- Blackheads prevention: Let’s know how to prevent blackheads from coming back by using basil leaves. Blackheads, which are the open dead skin cells on the surface can be eliminated naturally by putting wet leaves of basil on the face sometimes. Now, removes it and wash your face thoroughly with cold water.
- For glowing face: Make a powder of the leaves and rub the same over the face. Let it be dry and wash off thoroughly with cold water. This is as effective as the paste of turmeric and lemon when applied over the face.
- Younger skin: It provides younger skin as it is full of antioxidants along with anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and stress buster nature.
22. Basil leaf uses for hair care
How to maintain healthy hair is the desired of everyone? There are many hair care tips available, which help to make your hair shiny and lengthy. Along with the diet rich in protein and iron, you can also use basil leaves for healthy hair.
- Hair loss prevention: Hair loss is becoming an alarming condition, especially before the youth. Instead of using artificial chemical products, one should use natural hair care tips. Basil paste is great in the prevention of hair loss as it reduces itching in your scalp region and also enhances blood circulation in the head area.
- Dandruff treatment: Using of Tulsi oil along with coconut oil helps to maintain moisturizing in your scalp region. The massage improves blood circulation, reduces itchiness and dryness. The regular massage also strengthens the hair follicles.
- Grey hair prevention: The use of the mix of basil leaves, amla powder, and coconut oil helps to prevent grey hair. For this, the amla powder and basil leaves should be soaked overnight. Now, use coconut oil in it and wash your hair using the mix.
- Basil leaves for weight loss: Basil leaves can also be used for weight loss purposes. The regular use of basil leaves along with freshly prepared curd helps to maintain your weight and also enhances the energy level of the body.
23. A Healthy Brain
Cognitive decline has become a rampant problem for the elderly today. However, there have been studies that show that basil consumption is very helpful in preventing cognitive degradation. Basil contains minerals such as manganese, which is observed to increase the electronic transmitter activity in the brain. This activity is associated with mental reflexes. The herb also contains copper, which can help stimulate the mind-enhancing its functionality.
Glycosylceramides’ metabolism is also associated with the brain’s reflexes. Glycosylceramides also known as Sphingolipids are essentially molecules that act as a protective shield for the brain. This shield protects the brain from free radical and oxidative stress.
24. Managing Arthritis
Arthritis is a painful disease that often leads to physical disability. Basil has been found to contain beta-caryophyllene, as well. These are associated with effective pain management. They are also anti-inflammatory chemicals helping soothe the burning sensation in your joints caused by arthritis. A study conducted on rats showed that they were arthritis-free due to the use of basil in their diet.
25. Anti Aging Properties
It is found to be full of antioxidants. Free radical damage to both the skin and the brain can be a major player in looking and feeling old. The antioxidants in the herb will help reduce the effects of free radical cells and prevent the body and mind from enduring oxidative stress.
26. Managing Epilepsy
Its extract has been observed to reduce spasmodic activity in the brain. Another study conducted on animals shows that the eugenol in basil leaves is also beneficial for the nervous system.
27. Post Menstrual Syndrome
That time of the month can be exceptionally painful for at least 3 out of 4 women. Experiencing cramps, depression, and fatigue is a of post menstrual syndrome. However, the manganese present in basil helps relieve these symptoms by balancing your hormones. This, in turn, helps reduce stress and fatigue.
28. Source of Energy
It contains copper, which is a vital producer of adenosine tri-phosphate. This is a compound that helps in eliminating the effects of fatigue and exhaustion. It is often recommended to use basil in smoothies to help keep the energy levels high.
29. Anti Oxidants for Cancer
It contains phenolics and anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants. These have been observed to protect the body from reactive oxygen species that are the main cause of cancerous cell formation.
30. Aids Metabolism
A good metabolic rate is essential to keep the body lean and healthy. Basil is a good source of manganese, which helps the body release enzymes that are beneficial in metabolizing amino acids, cholesterol, and carbohydrates. It also helps metabolize vitamins that are glucose-related.
Buying and Cooking with Basil
Today, basil is one of the most important herbs in many cultures and cuisines, including Italian, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese. Basil can be used in a ton of ways: with sautéed vegetables; in sauces; to flavor meat, fish and stews; as part of dressings; in herbal teas; to flavor liqueurs; and even to make mixed drinks.
Some of the most common uses for basil in recipes include making pesto sauce; marinara tomato sauce; or combining it with flavors from olive oil, garlic, cheese, vinegar, and nuts. Fresh basil, dried basil and oil-infused basil are all ways to add basil flavor to dishes and experience the benefits of basil.
When buying basil, look for brightly colored leaves that are firm and aren’t wilted. Basil is usually available at farmers’ markets during the summer and early fall, and year-round at most grocery stores. You can also try growing your basil plants by planting some in any warm space that has a lot of access to sunlight. Store dried, unwashed basil in the refrigerator once you buy it or pick it, wrapped inside a damp paper towel and placed inside of a plastic or paper bag to prolong its freshness. Wash it before using it since basil can carry dirt and feel “gritty.”
How to Select and Store Basil Leaves
Whenever possible, choose fresh basil over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. The leaves of fresh basil should look vibrant and be deep green. They should be free from dark spots or yellowing.
Even through dried herbs and spices like basil are widely available in supermarkets, you may want to explore the local spice stores in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness compared to those offered in regular markets. Just like with other dried herbs, when purchasing dried basil, try to select organically grown basil since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated (among other potential adverse effects, irradiating basil may lead to a significant decrease in its vitamin C and carotenoid content.)
Fresh basil should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. It may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers. Alternatively, you can freeze the basil in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews. Dried basil should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months.
Tips for Preparing and Cooking Basil
Since the oils in basil are highly volatile, it is best to add the herb near the end of the cooking process, so it will retain its maximum essence and flavor.
Quick Serving Ideas For Basil
- Combine fresh chopped basil with garlic and olive oil to make a dairy-free variety of pesto that can top a variety of dishes including pasta, salmon and whole wheat bruschetta.
- Enjoy a taste of Italy by layering fresh basil leaves over tomato slices and mozzarella cheese to create this traditional colorful and delicious salad.
- Adding basil to healthy stir-fries, especially those that include eggplant, cabbage, chili peppers, tofu, and cashew nuts will give them a Thai flair.
- Purée basil, olive oil, and onions in a food processor or blender and add to tomato soups.
- Enjoy a warm cup of invigorating basil tea by infusing chopped basil leaves in boiling water for eight minutes.
Tomato Basil Juice Recipe
Total Time: 5 minutes
- 2 tomatoes
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 cup fresh basil
- Pinch of sea salt
Add all ingredients to vegetable juicer. Gently stir juice and consume immediately.
Basil Tomato Pesto Recipe
Total Time: 5 minutes
- 1 (8-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated raw cheese
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.
Brown Rice, Tomatoes and Basil Recipe
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 1 cup of brown rice
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- ¼ cup of coconut vinegar
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 pound heirloom tomatoes
- 1 cup basil leaves, chopped
- Bring two cups of water to a boil and add the rice and salt. Return it to a boil and simmer for 30–40 minutes until rice is cooked and the water is evaporated.
- Whisk together the vinegar, honey, coconut oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over the rice. Add the tomatoes and basil. Mix and serve.
How To Grow Basil
Basil is a warm-weather, fragrant herb that tastes great in Italian dishes—and let’s not forget homemade pesto! Plant seeds or transplants after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm, and it will yield an abundant harvest within weeks. Keep harvesting the leaves to keep the plant going strong.
The most common type of basil is sweet basil; other types include purple basil (less sweet than common basil), lemon basil (lemon flavor), and Thai basil (licorice flavor). Basil is easy to grow but it only grows outdoors in the summer—and only once the soil has warmed up nicely—so plan accordingly. If you’re planning on making pesto, grow several plants. Otherwise, one or two basil plants yield plenty.
- To get a head start, start the seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last spring frost. (See local frost dates.)
- To plant outside, wait until the soil is at least 50 degrees—preferably around 70ºF for best growth. Don’t rush basil. Without heat, the plant won’t grow.
- Basil needs to be in a location that gets 6 to 8 hours of full sun daily; soil should be moist and well-drained.
- Plant seeds/seedlings about ¼-inch deep and 10 to 12 inches apart. They should grow to about 12 to 24 inches in height. For smaller plants, plant farther apart (about 16 to 24 inches).
- During the dry periods in summer, water the plants freely.
- Remember to pinch out the flower heads as soon as they appear to make sure that the leaves will continue growing.
- If you’re planning on cooking with these plants, plant in clean soil (don’t use fertilizers that leave harmful residues) and grow them away from driveways and busy streets so that exhaust won’t settle on the plants.
- Tomatoes make great neighbors for basil plants in the garden.
- Make sure that the soil is moist. Basil plants like moisture. If you live in a hot area, use mulch around the basil plants (the mulch will help keep the soil moist).
- After the seedlings have their first six leaves, prune to above the second set.
- Every time a branch has six to eight leaves, repeat pruning the branches back to their first set of leaves.
- After 6 weeks, pinch off the center shoot to prevent early flowering. If flowers do grow, just cut them off.
- If the weather is going to be cold, be sure to harvest your basil beforehand, as the cold weather will destroy your plants.
- Variety of bacterial and fungal leaf, stem, and root diseases
- Start picking the leaves of basil as soon as they are 6 to 8 inches tall.
- Once temperatures hit 80 degrees, basil will start leafing out.
- Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth throughout the summer.
- Even if you don’t need to leaves, pick them to keep the plant going. Freeze the leaves.
- If you pick regularly, twelve basil plants will produce 4 to 6 cups of leaves per week.
- The best method for storing basil is freezing. Freezing will prevent the plant from losing any of its flavors. To quick-freeze basil, dry whole sprigs of basil and package them in airtight, resealable plastic bags, then place in the freezer.
- Another storage method is drying the basil (although some of the flavors will be lost). Pinch off the leaves at the stem and place them in a well-ventilated and shady area. After 3 to 4 days, if the plants are not completely dry, place them in the oven on the lowest heat setting with the door slightly open. Remember to turn the leaves (for equal drying) and check them frequently. See more about drying basil, tomatoes, and paprika.
- Cinnamon basil, to add a hint of cinnamon to a dish
- Purple basil, to add some nice color to your garden (when steeped in white vinegar, it creates a beautiful color)
- Thai basil, to add a sweet licorice flavor to a dish
Negative Effects Basil Leaves
1. Eugenol Overdose:
Eugenol is the primary constituent of Tulsi.
It has was found that excess consumption of Tulsi can lead to eugenol overdose. There is a possibility to consume too much of eugenol that might even lead to poisoning.
Eugenol is found in clove cigarettes and some food flavorings.
Blooding during coughs, rapid breathing, and blood in the urine.
2. Blood Thinning:
Tulsi has the property to thin the blood in our bodies. And hence it should not be taken along with other anti-clotting medications
People who already are taking blood-thinning medications like warfarin and heparin should restrict the consumption of Tulsi. Tulsi can intensify the blood-thinning properties of the prescribed drugs and lead to more severe complications.
Bruising and/or prolonged periods of bleeding.
Hypoglycemia is a condition of abnormally low levels of blood sugar. Though it is not a disease, it is a sign of health problems.
Tulsi is taken by people with high blood sugar to lower their blood sugar levels. But if people who are suffering from diabetes or hypoglycemia and are under medication consume Tulsi, it might lead to an excessive reduction in blood sugar. This is one of the most dangerous side effects of Tulsi that one should be aware of.
Paleness, dizziness, hunger, weakness, irritability.
4. Might Impact Fertility:
Tulsi might cause infertility in males.
Tests were conducted on male rabbits. The rabbits were divided into test and normal groups. Test group rabbits were two grams of Tulsi leaves for over 30 days. A significant decrease in the sperm count of test group rabbits was noted.
5. Reactions In Pregnant Women:
Excessive consumption of Tulsi by pregnant women may have long term effects both on the mother and the baby. Tulsi might also trigger reactions in pregnant women.
One of the holy basil side effects also includes an increase in uterine contractions in pregnant women. This side effect of Tulsi can lead to complications during childbirth or menstruation.
Backache, cramps, diarrhea, and bleeding.
6. Drug Interactions:
Tulsi might interfere with the way how our body processes certain drugs.
This is done by using ‘cytochrome P450’ – the liver’s enzyme system. As a result of this, the levels of drugs in the blood might increase or decrease.
Diazepam and scopolamine are two drugs that help reduce nausea, vomiting, and nervousness, anxiety respectively. Tulsi might reduce the amnesic effect caused by these two drugs.
Heartburn, light-headedness, headache, and nausea.
Any substance, however natural it is, has side effects. It might come as a cure for a certain disease. Or it might possess very good healing properties. But that doesn’t make it devoid of side effects.
So the next time you are thinking of taking Tulsi, you can take it. But make sure you consume it in moderation!
Frequent Asked Questions About Basil
Are Tulsi and Basil the same?
Most consumers refer to Tulsi as Basil and vice versa. However, these are two different plants. Basil leaves are mainly used for culinary dishes whereas tulsi is used as an indigenous medicinal ingredient. Also, the two have different scientific names Tulsi as Ocimum tenuiflorum while Basil as Ocimum basilicum. The alternative names of the plants are still different.
Tulsi- Holy basil, Tulasi
Basil- Sweet Basil, Saint Joseph’s Wort, Thai basil, mints.
While Tulsi has a religious significance for the Hindu, Basil has none.
What is the Indian name of basil leaves?
What are the main benefits of basil leaves?
Basil maintains blood flow as it contains Magnesium. Additionally, oil from basil leaves contains eugenol which is considered to be effective anti-inflammatory as aspirin and ibuprofen.
Can basil leaves be eaten raw?
According to doctors, the fresher the basil, the better it is. However, due to its smell when first plucked, people prefer it as an additive. For Basil pesto, it should always be eaten raw.
How do I identify Basil?
If you want to easily identify the basil plant, its leaves are the easiest way. The leaves are solid and oblong with a point at the end. For sweet basil, the leaves have a glossy green appearance growing between 2 and 4 inches long.
Is basil toxic?
While classifying, Basil does not fall under the toxic plants and herb division. Thus you should expect no danger using the plant.
What is Basil good for spiritually?
During ancient times, basil was considered to protect from evil spirits. Also, the Greeks believed it to have power in divination, to detect witches. For Hebrews, it was used for courage and strength. The ancient Romans used it to curse their enemies. The Indians use it to Vishnu and Krishna. They keep it in their homes to protect against evil.
Is Basil good for kidneys?
Considering its nutrition value, basil can be used to heal any kidney conditions.
Can you drink basil tea?
According to Ayurvedic practitioners, drinking holy basil as tea. The tea is caffeine-free.
Is basil tea good for high blood pressure?
According to results from Healthline, rodents have lowered blood pressure after administering basil extract. Thus it was concluded that basil might help lower your blood pressure.
Can you boil basil leaves?
Yes. Depending on what recipe you want, basil leaves can be boiled.
Why does basil turn black?
In the case of dark, water-soaked spots on the basil plants, it may indicate a bacterial leaf spot infection. This is caused by bacteria Pseudomonas cichorii. It is controllable by removing the infected leaves when the plant is dry.
Is black basil bad?
Once you refrigerate fresh basil leaves, they turn brown/black. Also, the leaves tend to have a slimy feel to the touch. A few black spots are safe to eat but they will be bitter and slimy.
How do you know when basil goes bad?
Some common traits include discoloration, moist texture and a rotten smell.
How long will fresh basil keep?
Fresh basil does not last for long. Even when refrigerated they turn their color.
How do I keep basil leaves fresh?
Trim the stems and place them in a glass or jar of water. Then loosely cover it with a plastic bag and leave it on the counter. For refrigeration, basil leaves do well under room temperature.