Basil leaves are among the oldest known herbs with aromatic qualities as well as medicinal worth. There are approximately 35 basil species found growing around the world. They differ from each other in structure and the essential oils found in them. The sweet basil and Holy Basil are the most commonly grown varieties. Holy Basil is traditionally employed in Indian Ayurveda medicine and is referred to in ancient Hindu texts.
The taste and aroma of the herb is due to the oils found in the leaves, roots, stem and seeds of the plant. The varying compositions of the oils give rise to the different species with varying aromas. Sweet basil produces a clove like scent because of the eugenol present in the species. Egenol is also found in cloves. Lemon basil house citral and imonene giving rise to citrus smell while Licorice Basil contains anethole giving it anise smell.
Basil Berry Delight
Basil leaves offer an abundant supply of vitamin A and K. Additionally they are a good source of Vitamin C, B6, Folat, Niacin and Vitamin E. In the mineral department they provide manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. They also provide a hefty amount of dietary fibers, roughly 25% of the dried herb by weight is fiber. Basil contains the water-soluble flavonoids orientin and vicenin. The seeds contain carbohydrates minerals and vitamins.
Health Benefits of Basil Leaves
In Ayurveda medicine basil leaves are thought to be the remedy for all ailments. People are encouraged to chew the fresh leaves to gain maximum health benefits. Numerous ayurvedic products such as tulsi powder, tea, skin cream and capsules are commonly available.
A brew of green tulsi leaves with some ginger is believed to prevent malaria and dengue fever. Leaves boiled with cardamom powder, and honey is an aide for bringing down fever. The leaves also have anti-viral and microbial properties that help to bring down fever and control growth of virus and bacteria. Fungal infections can be treated with applying crushed leaves to the infected region. Oils in the herb are a natural insect repellant and insecticide.
Some powerful components like camphene, eugenol and vitamin C with decongesting properties that help lung damage caused tuberculosis. Tulsi leaves are believed to be a natural alternative of Croup, an ailment in which larynx is blocked.