Basil's Health Benefits
Rich in flavonoids, basil is an herb that is effective in preventing cell damage from both radiation and oxygen. Two of the main flavonoids are "orientin" and "vicenin". Experiments have shown that these flavonoids, though, did not provide protection for tumors treated with radiation therapy.
The volatile oils of basil, inhibit bacterial growth. These oils include, estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene. The essential oils from basil have shown an ability to combat some pathogenic bacterium that have become resistant to treatment from antibiotics. A solution containing just 1% of the oil of basil can be used to rinse vegetables to kill infectious bacteria that cause diarrhea. Some dietitians recommend adding basil to salad dressings in order to help ensure safety when eating salads.
Basil also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, making it a good food to consume by people who have problems with arthritis. It does this in a manner similar to aspirin. An oil in basil called eugenol blocks the activity of an enzyme in the body called cyclooxygenase. The enzyme would normally cause swelling.
Basil is a source for Vitamin K, iron, calcium, vitamin A, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C, and potassium. It is good for the heart, because it helps to prevent build-up in the arteries and fights free radicals. The magnesium helps blood vessels to relax which increases blood circulation.