Basil: Toxicity, Contraindications, Properties And Benefits

Basil is an edible aromatic herb, belonging to the Lamiaceae type, perennial (lasts more than two years), has its origin in the tropical region of Asia, Pakistan, Iran and India, since ancient times it has been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean, Comoros Islands and Egypt. Since ancient times it has been given multiple uses in culinary art and natural medicine.

Different types of myths and legends have emerged about the properties of basil, for example, the Africans used it as protection against scorpions, the Europeans claimed that it represented Satan. In Greece, it represented hatred, tragedy and poverty; today in Italy it is the firm representation of love.

Its cultivation is by means of seeds and cuttings (pieces of the plant that are detached and replanted), it can be sown both in seedbeds and in greenhouses, under a sunny climate, but not very intense, in fertile and humid soil. Depending on the growing conditions that the basil plant has, its properties vary.

There are different types of basil, most are edible, with aromas reminiscent of anise, camphor, clove or lemon; it is characterized by having a large and showy leaf, which emanates a very pleasant aroma.

It can be consumed in its fresh or dry state, as salad dressings, sauces, soups, among others.

There is a type of basil that is inedible, which has insecticidal properties and is used in gardens as an insect repellent, due to its estragole and methyleugenol content.

Basil gives off an essential oil that in its major composition contains estragole, considered a strong carcinogen and genotoxic (affects mice and rats), so its very careful use is advised, although its toxic action has not been confirmed in the human diet.

Check our article on  Basil Oil: Side Effects, Properties and Benefits

Basil composition

Basil’s chemical composition comprises 92% water, in addition to providing vitamins, vitamin C, minerals, antioxidants, beta-carotene and magnesium. For every 100 grams of basil, it provides 23 kilocalories; while the essential oil represents 1% of its properties, highlighting eugenol (anti-inflammatory) and estragole (probable carcinogen and teratogen).

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Basil properties

Basil is highly valued as an excellent culinary companion and, in turn, very useful in natural medicine for its healing properties, as it is widely used to treat nervous and digestive conditions (dizziness, vomiting), and stress.

It has antispasmodic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, stimulant, sedative, galactogenic, antioxidant properties, properties that help improve the functioning of the digestive, immune system and therefore the body’s defenses.

  • For the digestive system: it inhibits the effects that produce inflammation in the digestive system, promotes better digestion of food, relieves gas and upset stomach, vomiting, as well as promotes better bowel function.
  • For the immune system: due to its antibacterial properties, it helps to strengthen the immune system, as well as possible conditions that occur in the body, such as viruses, fungi or bacteria, herpes. It acts against discomfort due to flu, fever, colds.
  • For the cardiovascular system: thanks to its antioxidant components it collaborates with the reduction of the level of cholesterol in the blood, in order to prevent the veins from clogging, a possible heart attack or atherosclerosis. Due to its magnesium content, it regulates blood flow, providing better heart health.
  • Against cancer: according to its components, it has certain antioxidant properties that protect cells from free radicals, making it a possible agent against certain types of cancer.

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Basil benefits

Thanks to the different properties and composition of basil, the benefits it brings to health are detailed:

  • It acts in cases of insomnia, anxiety, physical and mental fatigue
  • It favors the elimination of stones or stones in the kidney, stimulates kidney function
  • Combat muscle weakness and airway discomfort
  • It is used as a mosquito repellent
  • Activates the immune system
  • Stimulates the production of breast milk, due to its galactogenic component, as well as helps to relieve irritated nipples
  • Reduces inflammation, eliminates headache, relieves earache, dental and throat discomfort
  • Acts against laryngitis and pharyngitis
  • Strengthens hair and prevents hair loss
  • It can be used in case of inflammation of the urinary tract
  • Collaborates in wound healing, as well as acts against acne

How to use basil for pain

  • To improve some of the health conditions, basil can be used as follows:
  • For fever: boil basil leaves with cardamom, milk and sugar, consume it every 2-3 hours.
  • To calm nerves and stress: chew basil leaves twice a day.
  • For headaches: bring the basil leaves to a boil and drink the infusion every hour.
  • For bites, wounds or any other skin condition: crush the basil leaves until smooth and place them as a poultice on the affected area.
  • For the health of the teeth: let a few leaves dry, then crush them to powder and apply it to the toothpaste.

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Nutritional value of basil

The following represents the nutritional value of 100g of basil, for the daily amount of consumption in adults:

  • Carbohydrates 2.65 g.
  • Sugars 0.30 g.
  • Dietary fiber 1.6 g.
  • Fat 0.64 g.
  • Protein 3.15 g.
  • Water 92.06 g.
  • Vitamin A 29%.
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1) 0.04 mg.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) 0.076 mg.
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3) 0.09 mg.
  • Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) 0.209 mg.
  • Vitamin B6 0.155 mg.
  • Vitamin C 18.0 mg.
  • Vitamin K 414.8 mg.
  • Calcium 177 mg.
  • Copper 0.385 mg.
  • Iron 3.17 mg.
  • Magnesium 64 mg.
  • Manganese 1.18 mg.

Contraindications to the use of basil

Although it is considered an excellent natural medicine, it must be taken into account not to consume it in excess, because it can cause allergic reactions or poisoning, which can cause vomiting, dizziness or diarrhea.

As it is an anticoagulant, it should be consumed in moderation. It should not be used in children under 5 years of age.

It should not exceed the recommended dose.

In the case of pregnant women, its use is not recommended due to the component in estragole, it may have carcinogenic effects on the fetus.

Patients suffering from Parkinson’s, Crohn’s disease or epilepsy, should avoid its use.

Basil toxicity

Basil is an aromatic plant widely used in the kitchen and its consumption is safe; However, it gives off a by-product that is essential oil, rich in estragole and is considered toxic due to its possible carcinogenic action and teratogenic effects.

Its use is recommended under medical supervision, in the case of oil.

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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.

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