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 meaning through 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.
Basil continues to have diverse applications in modern kitchens and science labs. In cooking, basil is 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 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.
Excellent for your heart and blood vessels
Basil is loaded with vitamin B6 and magnesium, which means that it’s great for preventing homocysteines – toxic substances which can accumulate in the body.
Magnesium also stimulates cardiovascular health and lowers the risk of heart attacks and arrhythmia, by relaxing the muscles and blood vessels and stimulating better blood flow.
According to recent research, basil oil positively affects the immune system. Considering the fact that its leaves have strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties, you can use basil to treat bacterial infections.
Basil has very strong anti-oxidative properties. The antioxidants from basil should be a vital part of every diet and healthy lifestyle, as they protect the body from free radicals and protect it from cell aging, which is one factor contributing to various types of cancer.
One of the antioxidants found in basil is the beta-carotene, which is transformed into vitamin A within the body. Vitamin A prevents cholesterol oxidation and protects the heart and blood vessels in the process.
Beta-carotene is also excellent for the prevention of various diseases like asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, which are usually the result of free radicals.