Nutrition and DietBasil: benefits, properties, uses and contraindications

Basil: benefits, properties, uses and contraindications

Basil properties, and information on the different medicinal benefits provided by the Ocimun basilica plant, as well as its contraindications and toxicity.

The basil is a plant in the kitchen tends to be commonly widely used to being a tremendously aromatic herb that has an Oriental origin though we relate mostly with Italian cuisine. A good example is pesto, although its use in salads with mozzarella cheese is also common.

In addition to its aromatic power, the truth is that in natural medicine its use is also common, either when making a basil tea or a basil infusion.

It is an herb also known by other less common names, such as alfábrega, royal herb or scent herb, although scientifically it is known by the name of Ocimun basilicum.

Medicinal benefits of basil

We can take advantage of basil above all its leaves, which are especially rich in tannins and ethereal oil. In fact, with them it is common to make infusions and teas, and can even be used fresh or dry.

From a medicinal point of view, it is an herb with great aromatic power, so it is useful in the treatment of colds and bronchitis. It is also a digestive plant, helping in case of heavy or difficult digestions, and in case of gases.

When we infuse its leaves and drink it, we provide our body with diuretic, stimulating and relaxing benefits. In addition, it is interesting in nursing mothers because it helps to produce more milk.

While gargling with this infusion, it helps combat throat and mouth problems. We can also crush its leaves, being useful when making poultices and alleviating discomfort in the lips, eyelids or sore nipples.

Main uses of basil

  • In the kitchen: one of the most common uses of basil is in the kitchen, and not precisely for its medicinal benefits, but for its aromatic power. It is interesting in salads with mozzarella cheese, to make sauces like pesto or simply as an aromatic.
  • Infusions and teas: both basil infusion and basil tea are interesting when it comes to alleviating digestive problems such as heavy digestions and gas. It is also a diuretic and stimulating drink, but it can even help you relax.
  • Poultices: as you know, poultices are medicinal preparations that are made by crushing a plant and applying it to the skin with the help of gauze or cloth. In this sense, basil poultices help to relieve sore or cracked nipples, as well as discomfort in the lips and eyelids.

Therapeutic uses and dosages of basil

For internal use:

  • Infusions and teas: one to two dessert teaspoons per cup, 3 cups a day. The best time is after meals.
  • Deterpenated essential oil: 2 to 3 drops, 2 times a day.
  • Basil capsules: 2 to 3 capsules a day, after each meal.

For external use: for external use there is no minimum or maximum dose of basil. Yes it is true that we can use it in compresses, lotions and poultices.

Contraindications and side effects

Basil is a safe herb, on which no contraindications have been described, except in those situations in which the person is sensitive or allergic to its composition.

However, the consumption of basil essential oil is not recommended in case of:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Gastroduodenal ulcers
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Liver disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Gastritis

And what are its side effects?

Basil by itself, not consumed in excess, does not produce side or adverse effects. Of course, the essential oil can cause irritation of the mucous membranes, resulting neurotoxic in high doses.

What is the toxicity of basil?

Although basil is an aromatic herb widely used in cooking and, in fact, its consumption is quite safe, we must take special care with the essential oil of basil.

This oil is especially rich in estragole, a toxic compound due to its carcinogenic action and its teratogenic effects. Hence, its consumption is not recommended in case of breastfeeding and pregnancy.

It is also evident that those who are sensitive or allergic to any of the components of basil should avoid its consumption, since otherwise it would cause adverse effects.

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