The plant Ocimum basilicum , commonly called alhábega, albeda, basil, basil, basil of large or broad leaf, is one of the best known in the kitchen and in medicine, especially in the natural. It is a plant with very aromatic leaves and a very beneficial composition for us, but how can basil be used to benefit from its properties? Whether you want to know their applications in medicine or in the kitchen, you have arrived at the right place.
Main types of basil
There are more than 150 varieties of basil, but the main ones are three species. On the one hand is the common that we all know as alhabega or basil of big or wide leaf or, simply, by the name of basil to dry or the scientist Ocimum basilicum. Then, it is increasingly common to see the call Ocimum minimum or small leaf basil, like the one in this image. Finally, the third type of this best known plant is Ocimum tenuiflorum, purple basil, Indian or tulsí.
These are the three species of this medicinal and aromatic plant used to treat health and to flavor our dishes. However, not all are used in the same way, because for example the wide leaf is very common in the kitchen while the small leaf is not.
Properties and medicinal uses of basil
To respond to this section we have reported through studies like this carried out by the departments of biochemistry, Seema Dental College & Hospital, and pathology, King George’s Medical University. In this study we can check the composition, properties and medicinal uses of basil, speaking of the different varieties in general.
The alhábega or basil as a medicinal plant is widely used for its composition. Mainly, it is composed of essential oils such as eugenol, linalool, estragole, cienol, also flavonoids such as esculoside, kenferol and quercetroside, saponosides, linalyl acetate and caffeic acid. It also contains different vitamins such as A, several of group B, C, E and K.
These components are not only found in the leaves, which are the only part used in the kitchen, but also in other parts of the plant also used in medicine, such as flowers, roots, seeds and stems.
Properties of basil
Thanks to the main components of basil, it has the following properties:
- Stimulants of the respiratory system and expectorants.
- Regulators of glucose.
- Diaphoretic or sudorific.
Benefits and medicinal uses of basil
If you wonder what cure basil as a medicinal plant, you will be interested to know that among the therapeutic and medicinal uses of basil we highlight the following:
- Stimulate the immune system and prevent premature aging.
- Facilitate digestions.
- Stimulate the appetite.
- Avoid and stop vomiting.
- Relieve heartburn
- Remove mucus from the respiratory system.
- Calm asthma
- Relieve pain.
- Relax and calm the anxiety.
- Treat bacterial infections.
- Eliminate fungal infections.
- Help overcome the viruses.
- Reduce allergies
- Treat mild cases of diabetes or hyperglycemia.
- Decrease fever
- Lower blood pressure.
- Protect the liver
- Help in the treatment of liver detoxification.
- Regulate cholesterol.
Culinary uses of basil
Do you also wonder what the basil is for in the kitchen? The truth is that it is widely used in the diet of the Mediterranean diet and, in fact, the big leaf is also called Italian basil.
The small leaf basil is not usually used for cooking because it is considered toxic, although in reality its harmful effects can occur if it is used in large quantities.
If you’re wondering “in which foods can I use basil?” These ideas point to the most common culinary uses of basil: seasoning or seasoning of pasta dishes, meat and salads mainly in sauce, infusion or tea and in oil.
This basil sauce is known as pesto and is one of the most used sauces for Italian fresh pasta dishes. You will see that you only need to include Mediterranean ingredients such as olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic and salt.
Infusion or basil tea is taken by people who like to drink these very aromatic beverages. However, it is one of the best ways to take it as a natural treatment because it is one of the ways in which our body can make better use of its components. Usually add a few drops of lemon, mix with mint in the infusion or add a little honey.
Another of the culinary uses of basil is more frequent is to use it in oil. You can prepared and delicious dressing for salads and pasta dishes. You just need a few fresh leaves of this plant and olive oil.
Where to buy basil and how to preserve it
You can buy fresh basil like the whole plant or the loose leaves. In the first case you can buy it in gardening stores, while to obtain loose sheets you will have to go to herbalists, herbalists or natural products stores. You will also have to go to these last mentioned sites if you want to buy in basil essential oil or dried leaves.
If you buy the essential oil try to preserve it in its dark glass jar and in a place where it gives direct sunlight. In the case of basil in dry you will have to keep it tightly closed in its bag or in an airtight jar and in a cool but dry place, as in the pantry.
To keep the basil fresh, if you have it in branches or loose leaves, it is best to keep it in an airtight jar in a place in the kitchen where direct natural light does not reach, placed in a bowl or jug if you go to use shortly or freeze the leaves.
Care of common basil
The cultivation of basil can be very simple if you follow these tips:
- It needs a good irrigation but also to have an effective drainage in the pot or soil, because it is not advisable to paddling and drowning, but you should keep your soil somewhat damp almost always. This is because it is very easy to dry and die. In hot season you will surely have to water the basil once a day.
- If you want to take advantage of the leaves all year round, it is convenient that when you see the flowers coming out, cut them, better when they are still buds, because when the flowering cycle ends, this plant dies. Another option is that after the flowering you sow the seeds that you have collected from this or that you buy another plant.
- The small leaf basil is used much more in gardening, since it is very decorative and gives off much more smell, so it is also excellent as natural anti-mosquito.
- Place it in a semi-shade area, because direct sunlight can easily damage it.
- The ideal temperature for it to grow well is between 20ºC and 25ºC.
Contraindications of basil
To finish we explain which are the main contraindications of the basil to consume it as food in the dishes and as part of a medicinal treatment.
- In case of having allergies to this same plant or to some family species.
- Its consumption is not recommended in case of being pregnant or nursing.
- It can interfere with some drugs, so in the case of taking certain medications is contraindicated. It is the situation that occurs if you take medication for hypertension or anticoagulants.
- The basil essential oil should not be used internally, only externally.
- In the case of children, a specialist must indicate the dose in each case, whether the plant is taken in leaves or if the oil is used, since the most common doses in adults can be toxic for children.
- In the case of gastrointestinal problems in which there is a lot of irritation or even ulcers, the intake of this plant is contraindicated because due to its essential oils it can be very irritating in this situation.
- If there are dermatitis or severe skin irritations the topical use of the essential oil of this plant in this area of the skin is not recommended because it can irritate it more.