How eating fresh basil can help banish arthritic aches and pains

If you need a strong anti-inflammatory to ease your aching joints, then try eating basil. Several varieties of basil – with their fresh-tasting, aromatic leaves – have been shown to be as strong as anti-inflammatory medication when it comes to easing the swelling and pain of arthritis. The research, presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester, found that, when taken orally, concentrated extracts from two types of basil – Ocimum americanum and Ocimum tenuiflorum – reduced joint  swelling by up to 73 per cent within just 24 hours. We assessed the antiinflammatory capacity of both plants and found they were similar to those seen with diclofenac, an antiinflammatory drug widely used in the treatment of arthritis,’ says Vaibhav Shinde, of Poona College of Pharmacy in India, who conducted the research. But unlike diclofenac and other drugs of its type, basil has not so far been found to cause side effects such as gastro-intestinal irritation and abdominal burning and pain. These can be significant problems for arthritis sufferers who take daily pain-relieving medication. Various basil varieties have been used in traditional medicine in India and Europe for centuries. Taken as a herbal infusion (pour just-boiled water over the fresh leaves) or added fresh to curries or salads, the plant has been used to treat anti-inflammatory conditions ranging from bronchitis and asthma to skin diseases and arthritis. Basil may also help prevent diabetes by reducing blood-glucose levels. Yet scientists are only now beginning to discover what makes basil such an effective remedy. ‘Research indicates that eugenol, the oil that gives basil its distinctive aroma, is the active molecule responsible for the antiinflammatory effect,’ says Vaibhav Shinde. ‘However, other molecules may be involved. We want to find out what they are, so that they can be used to develop medicines.’ A basil-extract pill is not yet available but increasing the amount of basil in your diet should have a mild anti-inflammatory effect – although it will depend on the type of basil used. The basils in the research are grown mainly in India and South East Asia where they are used in ayurvedic medicine and to add flavour to curries. The leaves are smaller than the European variety – Ocimum basilicum or sweet basil – and the flavour is stronger owing to the higher levels of eugenol. ‘Sweet basil does contain eugenol but not at the same levels,’ explains Susi Kaiser, medical herbalist at the University of Westminster. ‘It is likely to have some anti-inflammatory action but you may want to look for the Asian varieties if you want a stronger effect.’ news from

Holy Basil: Tulsi

Holy Basil is a lovely branched herb which grows only annually. Fitting it’s name perfectly Hindus believe Tulsi is a sacred plant. There are two types of Tulsi. The first is characterized by a stronger scent and can be found near Suriname and is red and the other is green. While Holy Basil has much spiritual significance, it does have many medicinal qualities. Eye: When Holy Basil is crushed it produces a thick liquid which can be applied to the eyes for treatment of night blindness and inflammation. Mouth : A powdered down version of Holy Basil can be used to treat sensitive teeth and gums. Adding water to the powder it can be used much like toothpaste. Also leaves can be chewed to promote the healing of mouth lesions and ulcers. Bites: Any type of insect, spider, or outside critter bite can be treated using the liquid from crushed Holy Basil. Tulsi offers a prophylactic or anti-allergic properties which make sure that insects bites do not cause inflammation. Distress: While in ancient times it was said that chewing Holy Basil leaves helped reduce stress related disorders it has been modernized. Today, Holy Basil tea and bath soaks are often the best remedy to relieve tension and stress daily. High Cholesterol: Holy Basil much like the medication Lipitor which is used to lower cholesterol levels by several points. The great thing about Holy Basil is that it has none of the severe side effects of cholesterol medications like liver and kidney disease while still acting to lower cholesterol levels. Upper Respiratory Infections: Holy Basil when combined with honey, salt, cloves, and lemon is a great resource for the relieving symptoms of cold. Flu, any upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, asthma, and cough. All ingredients are boiled down in one liter of water until half a liter remains and taken like tea. Migraines: Holy Basil can be hammered into a paste which can then be applied to the head and neck to relieve the intense pain of migraines and severe headaches. Skin Health: Holy Basil juice can always be applied to the skin to treat dry skin, rash, ring worm, and other infectious skin illnesses. Digestive Tract: Holy Basil can stop all the nasty symptoms of food poisoning, stomach flu, and general children ailments including diarrhea, and vomiting. Kidney Stones: If Holy Basil juice is taking for 6 months it will allow for the easy expulsion of kidney stones via the urinary tract. Obviously, Holy Basil is medicinal herb with many healing qualities. Just like any medication it should be taken under the supervision of a medical professional. Holy Basil (Tulsi) Holy basil should not be confused with the more commonly known basil, though they are cousins.

Whereas basil is a leaf used to enliven cooking, holy basil is a clove like plant with a hairy appearance that has special significance in Hinduism and can very often be found growing wild in thick clusters around temples in India, which is more of a healing product than a culinary ingredient. Traditionally anyway, as there is a growing fashion to use Holy basil in cooking, particularly in the USA where chefs pioneered this new found usage.But keeping with its more traditional uses, Holy basil is an ancient remedy with particular reverence in the Ayurvedic philosophy. Ayurvedic prescribes Holy Basil as an agent of perspiration and as such it is recommended that the herb is taken having being brewed up into Kapha tea. It can then work in the body and sweat out feverish ailments such as the common cold and sore throats. When taken in this fashion it also has the effect of clearing blocked passageways and so is able to clear up bronchial disorders efficiently and safely. The juice of the Holy Basil should also be applied to an afflicted area to combat skin disorders, particularly those such as ringworm and other similar complaints. It also has particular qualities which seem able to relax the body and give a feeling of the calm within a person when it is taken which enables Holy Basil to be used successfully as an anti-stress supplement and it is in this way it should be used for greater effect. Indeed it has been proven to be more successful in relieving stress then the more commonly known, better available and thus more frequently taken ginseng and it is said to be safer too with no known side effects. Holy Basil is very much an emerging herb, certainly to the world outside of India and its’ full benefits for a healthy lifestyle have yet to be fully explored, its’ de-stressing attributes are beyond doubt, but increasingly there is some evidence that it can be equally effective when prescribed as a painkiller, an anti-inflammatory medicine, a treatment for all bacterial, fungal and viral infections and perhaps what will become eventually its’ most important usage, there is evidence that it can help lower and control blood sugar levels, which would not only make it a refreshing revitalizing tonic for all, but more specifically and significantly means that it could well end up being a common prescription in the treatment and alleviation of diabetes. It should be said that these treatments are only at the trialing stage at the moment but there does seem to be good evidence and proper hope that Holy Basil can become a first-class treatment and a naturally healthy one to boot for all of these afflictions and complaints. Maybe India is about to lose its’ best kept herbal remedy to the whole world, which can only be a good thing for everybody else. news from

Basil (Ocimumbasilicum) (pronounced /ˈbæzəl/ or /ˈbeɪzəl/), of the Family Lamiaceae (mints), is a tender low-growing herb. Basil is a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in the Southeast Asian cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The plant tastes somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, sweet smell. There are many varieties of basil. That which is used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil, as opposed to Thai basil, lemon basil and holy basil, which are used in Asia. While most common varieties of basil are treated as annuals, some are perennial in warm, tropical climates, including African Blue and Holy Thai basil. Basil is originally native to Iran, India and other tropical regions of Asia, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years. The word basil comes from the Greek βασιλεύς (basileus), meaning “king”, as it is believed to have grown above the spot where St. Constantine and Helen discovered the Holy Cross. The Oxford English Dictionary quotes speculations that basil may have been used in “some royal unguent, bath, or medicine”. Basil is still considered the “king of herbs” by many cookery authors. Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. It is generally added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavour. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of its flavour, and what little flavour remains tastes very different, with a weak coumarin flavour, like hay. Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto—a green Italian oil-and-herb sauce. Its other two main ingredients are olive oil and pine nuts. The most commonly used Mediterranean basil cultivars are “Genovese”, “Purple Ruffles”, “Mammoth”, “Cinnamon”, “Lemon”, “Globe”, and “African Blue”. The Chinese also use fresh or dried basils in soups and other foods. In Taiwan, people add fresh basil leaves to thick soups. They also eat fried chicken with deep-fried basil leaves. Basil (most commonly Thai Basil) is commonly steeped in cream or milk to create an interesting flavor in ice cream or chocolates (such as truffles). Basil is sometimes used with fresh fruit and in fruit jams and sauces—in particular with strawberries, but also raspberries or dark-colored plums. Arguably the flat-leaf basil used in Vietnamese cooking, which has a slightly different flavour, is more suitable for use with fruit. Basil seeds. When soaked in water the seeds of several basil varieties become gelatinous, and are used in Asian drinks and desserts such as falooda or Sherbet. Such seeds are known variously as sabza, subza, takmaria, tukmaria, falooda, selasih (Malay/Indonesian) or hột é (Vietnamese).

They are used for their medicinal properties in Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India. They are also used as popular drinks in Southeast Asia. Several other basils, including some other Ocimum species, are grown in many regions of Asia. Most of the Asian basils have a clove-like flavour that is generally stronger than the Mediterranean basils. The most notable is the holy basil or tulsi, a revered home-grown plant in India and Nepal. In China, the local cultivar is called (jiǔ-céng-tǎ; literally “nine-level pagoda”), while the imported varieties are specifically called (tradit(luó-lè) or  (bā-xī-lǐ), although often refers to another different kind plant–parsley. Lemon basil has a strong lemony smell and flavour very different from those of other varieties because it contains a chemical called citral. It is widely used in Indonesia, where it is called kemangi and served raw, together with raw cabbage, green beans, and cucumber, as an accompaniment to fried fish or duck. Its flowers, broken up, are a zesty salad condiment.  Recently, there has been much research into the health benefits conferred by the essential oils found in basil. Scientific studies have established that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties. In addition, basil has been shown to decrease the occurrence of platelet aggregation and experimental thrombus in mice. It is traditionally used for supplementary treatment of stress, asthma and diabetes in India. Basil, like other aromatic plants such as fennel and tarragon, contains estragole, a known carcinogen and teratogen in rats and mice. While human effects are currently unstudied, the rodent experiments indicate that it would take 100 ~ 1000 times the normal anticipated exposure to become a cancer risk. There are many rituals and beliefs associated with basil. The French sometimes call basil “l’herbe royale”. Jewish folklore suggests it adds strength while fasting. It is a symbol of love in present-day Italy, but represented hatred in ancient Greece, and European lore sometimes claims that basil is a symbol of Satan. African legend claims that basil protects against scorpions, while the English botanist Culpeper cites one “Hilarius, a French physician” as affirming it as common knowledge that smelling basil too much would breed scorpions in the brain. Holy Basil, also called ‘Tulsi’ (or Tulas in Marathi), is highly revered in Hinduism and also has religious significance in the Greek Orthodox Church, where it is used to prepare holy water. It is said to have been found around Christ’s tomb after his resurrection. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Serbian Orthodox Church, Macedonian Orthodox Church and Romanian Orthodox Church use basil (Bulgarian and Macedonian: босилек; Romanian: busuioc, Serbian: босиљак) to prepare holy water and pots of basil are often placed below church altars. In Europe, basil is placed in the hands of the dead to ensure a safe journey. In India, they place it in the mouth of the dying to ensure they reach God. The ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks believed that it would open the gates of heaven for a person passing on. In Boccaccio’s Decameron a memorably morbid tale (novella V) tells of Lisabetta, whose brothers slay her lover. He appears to her in a dream and shows her where he is buried. She secretly disinters the head, and sets it in a pot of basil, which she waters with her daily tears. The pot being taken from her by her brothers, she dies of her grief not long after. Boccaccio’s tale is the source of John Keats’ poem Isabella or The Pot of Basil – which in turn inspired the paintings Isabella (Millais painting) and Isabella and the Pot of Basil. A similar story is told of the Longobard queen Rosalind.

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