Basil, known as Saint Joseph’s Wort, is native to India and other Asian tropical areas. It is a herb belonging to the mint family, often used as a seasoning in cooking.
This herb is commonly used in Italian cuisine as well as Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian cuisine. The word “basil” is derived from the Greek word “basileus” that means “king”, and the French refer to basil as l’herbe royale (the royal herb). Basil is used in ayurvedic and Tamil medicines, which are considered a form of alternative medicine in the Indian subcontinent.
Basil has different types that differ in smell and taste; the most commercially available kind used in Italian food is sweet basil that has a strong clove scent due to the high concentration of eugenol, while lemon and lime basil have a strong citrus scent because of the high concentration of limonene.
A study revealed that basil contains a wide array of natural products including anthocyanins and flavonoids as well as a wide range of essential oils rich in phenolic compounds. High quantities of (E)-beta-caryophyllene are contained in the herb; it may be useful in treating inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.
Another study revealed that extracts of “holy basil” are shown to reduce swelling considerably 24 hours after treatment. According to research, basil has anti- aging and anti- bacterial properties; it is effective in restricting the growth of various bacteria including Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli. Adding basil and/ or thyme to your vinaigrette will not only enhance the flavor of your dish, but it will also ensure that what you consume is safe to eat.
Furthermore, the eugenol component of basil can block the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase; many anti- inflammatory medications including ibuprofen and aspirin work by inhibiting the same enzyme. This effect of eugenol qualifies basil to be an anti- inflammatory food that can provide symptomatic relief for people with inflammatory health problems.