Basil: Properties and Benefits


It is not only the main ingredient of the very famous pesto. Like other aromatic plants, basil has therapeutic properties that should not be underestimated. In fact, it contains essential oils and phytochemical compounds that have a curative action on the body

The basil, scientific name Ocimum basilicum , is a herbaceous plant with aromatic properties. It is an annual character and belongs to the Lamiaceae family.

Basil: properties and benefits
Basil: properties and benefits

The basil, to grow, it prefers the Mediterranean climate, with temperatures ranging from 21 ° to 26 ° and can not stand temperatures below 10 °. It blooms in the summer period.

The  basil, with its intense and pleasant aroma, is widely used in cooking, especially in Italy. To keep its aromatic and organoleptic properties intact, the leaves should be used fresh and added to the dishes at the last moment. Cooking greatly reduces its aroma while drying eliminates it completely.


The plant belongs to the same family to which mint, oregano and rosemary belong. Its essential oil has been shown to help in the prevention of many unfavorable health conditions. To date, at least 6 different types of essential oils have been identified within the seeds, roots, leaves and stem.

These are volatile essential oils rich in antioxidant compounds that are responsible for the aroma and various health benefits. These compounds have a protective role and help the plant defend itself from insects, rodents and bacteria that lurk in the ground. When we take the essential oil this has the same protective activity against our body and strengthens the immune system.

Thanks to its antibacterial properties, the basil extract is also used for the preparation of household cleaners and dental care products.

There are 200 varieties of this herb that, for thousands of years, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine in the form of tea, ointments and tonics. The aromatic character of each type of basil is determined by the genotype and depends on the main chemical compounds of the essential oils consisting mainly of monoterpenes and phenylpropanoids. ( 12 )

Different varieties of this plant have been recognized as a medicinal plant in folk medicine since ancient times. ( 3 )

In the popular tradition the Ocimum basilicum has been used as a traditional medicinal plant for the treatment of headaches, coughs, diarrhea, constipation, warts, worms and kidney malfunctions.

Chemical Composition

Chemical composition for 100 grams of basil
Water g 92,06
Protein g 3,15
Carbohydrates g 2,65
Fibers g 1,6
Sugars g 0,30
Fat g 0,64
Ashes g 1,49
Calcium mg 177
Copper mg 0,385
Iron mg 3,17
Magnesium mg 64
Manganese mg 1,148
Phosphorus mg 56
Potassium mg 295
Selenium mcg 0,3
Sodium mg 4
Zinc mg 0,81
Vitamin A IU 5275
Vitamin A, RAE mcg 264
B1 mg 0,034
B2 mg 0,076
B3 mg 0,902
B5 mg 0,209
B6 mg 0,155
Vitamin C mg 18
Vitamin E mg 0,80
Vitamin J mg 11,4
Vitamin K mcg 414,8
Lutein Zeaxanthin mcg 5650
Beta Carotene mcg 3142
Folate mcg 68

Source: Nutritionvalue

Amino acids: aspartic acid and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, isoleucine, histidine,leucine, lysine, methionine, proline, serine, tyrosine, valine, threonine and tryptophan.


Every 100 grams of basil leaves have a caloric yield of 23 kcal.

Basil: Properties and Benefits 

The basil is an excellent aromatic plant able to give more flavor to a wide variety of Mediterranean dishes. Thanks to its properties, it represents a valid natural aid for the treatment of various pathologies.

Intestinal System

It is also used as a stimulating substance for the intestinal system. Its properties facilitate digestion and promote appetite, not only.

Strengthens the nervous system, alleviates states of anxiety and nervousness. It is useful in cases of insomnia and also usable in case of asthma, bronchitis and cough.

According to a Swiss study, basil contains beta-caryophyllene, a compound that can be a useful treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases. ( 4 )

Fights Stress

Research has shown that this plant has all the properties to act with a natural adaptogen helping the body to adapt to stress conditions.

A study conducted on rabbits gave results that bode well for future application in humans. Researchers administered basil leaves to rabbits in a high- stress environment. After 30 days in which the rabbits received 2 grams of fresh leaves, greater cardiovascular and respiratory protection was experienced. ( 5 )

Similarly, experimental studies have shown that basil helps reduce the effects of acute and chronic noise-induced stress in animals. ( 67 )

Cardiocirculatory System

It is a good source of magnesium, a mineral that relaxes muscles and blood vessels. This improves blood flow and reduces the risk of heartbeat irregularities.

Magnesium and beta-carotene  bring benefits to arteries and blood vessels, thus helping to keep our cardiovascular system healthy.


It has been discovered that the intake of raw basil serves to counteract and combat different types of inflammation such as colds and skin diseases.

This particular property of the plant seems to be due to the substance that gives the characteristic aroma to the basil, eugenol . The basil has anti-inflammatory properties that, if ingested, can bring benefits intestines. Useful in case of inflammation, gas presence and localized pains.

A study published in the Journal of Bone Reports & Recommendations confirms that basil could be useful in treating certain diseases that involve inflammation. ( 8 )


According to a study conducted in India, basil has proved to be an effective weapon in alleviating the pain caused by arthritis, which as we know is an annoying pathology that affects the joints.

It has been shown that taking its concentrated juice in tablets can significantly reduce the size of swollen and painful joints due to arthritis.

The Swiss study mentioned above suggests that the beta-caryophyllene present in the plant has properties useful for the treatment of arthritis. ( 9 )

Insect Bites

In the case of insect bites it can represent a good emergency remedy (in the absence of other). Some fresh leaves are chewed and then applied to the area affected by the puncture. In this way the basil soothes the pain and helps to extract the poison.


It also has antibacterial properties  and this is one more reason to include it in our diet for the benefit of our intestines. Laboratory studies have shown its effectiveness.

Some substances contained in its essential oil, such as limonene, linalool, eugenol, estragole, cineol, sabinene and myrcene, have properties that can counteract the growth of numerous types of bacteria.

The antibacterial properties of the essential oil are also useful for treating ear infections.

A study conducted in Poland highlighted the effectiveness of its essential oil against the bacterium of Escherichia coli and other bacterial strains. Researchers have discovered that this spice has useful properties to inhibit the growth of many types of bacteria. ( 10 )

Another Australian study found the efficacy of Ocimum basilicum essential oils  against a wide range of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, yeasts and molds. ( 11 )

In an Egyptian study it was found that the combination of essential oil of basil with that of mint improves its anti-fungal properties. ( 12 )


Its use is also useful to get rid of headaches. For this purpose, place a couple of tablespoons of dried basil in a pan of boiling water. Approache your face with a towel on his head and breathe in the vapors.

The towel should be dropped all around the head and should lick the edges of the pot. This serves to channel the steam to the respiratory tract.

A 2018 study conducted in rats showed the sedative effect of inhaling its essential oil. ( 13 )


A study conducted by his mice demonstrated the efficacy  of the hydroalcoholic extract of Ocimum basilicum on memory recovery. These beneficial effects have been attributed to the antioxidant activity of flavonoids, tannins and terpenoids. ( 14 )

Another iranian study conducted on mice confirms the results of the previous research. ( 12 ) On the basis of the results of this study it seems that the improvement of the conservation and recovery of memory by the extract of  basil, may be due to the presence of antioxidants such as terpenoids, flavonoids and tannins and to their property of eliminating species reactive oxygen.

There are several studies that have shown that O. basilicum  contains a high level of antioxidant activity. This is attributed to terpenoids, polyphenols, flavonoids such as quercetin, kempferol and myricetin, tannins and essential oil. ( 15 , 16 )


A study conducted on mice and published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, found that one 5-day administration of basil extract has beneficial effects on the liver. At the end of the study the mice increased the production of detoxifying enzymes and reduced the fat accumulated in the liver. ( 17 )


Its leaves contain a series of phytonutrients and antioxidants whose activity appears to be useful to counteract the activity of free radicals. The main constituents with antioxidant activity are vitamins A, C and E, zeaxanthin, lutein and beta-carotene.

A team of Japanese researchers examined the antioxidant properties of basil extract. The results showed that rosmarinic acid can capture 1,52 free radicals, and the existence of a synergistic effect between alpha-tocopherol and rosmarinic acid was also revealed. ( 18 )


Vitamin K is essential to ensure blood clotting if necessary. It has a fundamental role in strengthening and mineralizing bones.


Its consumption increases the production of breast milk during lactation. In case of nausea a good remedy is a tea made with dried basil leaves. What do you want most from this plant?


A 2013 study examined the  anticancer properties of a particular type of basil, the Ocimum sanctum. The results showed that some antioxidant compounds such as eugenol, rosmarinic acid, lutein and carnosic acid can prevent certain types of cancer. Especially that to the skin, liver and lungs. ( 19 )

A 2014 study showed the cytotoxic effects of some compounds in Ocimum basilicum on breast cancer. According to the researchers these compounds would be able to cause cancer cell death by apoptosis. ( 20 )


The extracts of this aromatic plant can also benefit diabetics. The mechanism by which basil reduces blood sugar levels is not yet clear. It seems however that they are the essential oils present in the leaves to have the property of reducing blood glucose levels.

An indian study suggests that the spice reduces blood sugar levels and also has beneficial effects in reducing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. ( 21 )

Numerous clinical trials on humans have shown that basil has an anti-diabetic activity. Studies conducted on diabetic laboratory animals have shown that the plant can reduce blood sugar, correct abnormal lipid profiles and protect the liver and kidneys from metabolic damage caused by high glucose levels. ( 22 )

Pesto alla Genovese

Pesto sauce

As everyone knows, pesto is a typical Ligurian condiment whose basic food is basil (naturally Ligurian). Recently the pesto produced in Liguria with the basil of certain areas has acquired the protected designation of origin (Dop).

The official ingredients of the pesto consist of the Ligurian basil, Ligurian extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, pecorino cheese, garlic and coarse sea salt.

Not all the Ligurian area is suitable for its  cultivation  suitable for making pesto. The area considered suitable for this purpose is the one between Genoa Prà in Genoa Pegli. It is considered ideal what grows in these areas because all the others seem to have a slight hint of mint.

If you want to try to prepare pesto in your home, on this page you will find the recipe and the procedure to follow.

Infusion Against Anxiety

To counteract states of anxiety but also of stress, infuse a tablespoon of basil in 4 dl for 10 minutes. of boiling water. After this time, filter and drink a cup after lunch.

Strengthens Hair

Rub the hair with an infusion obtained from dry leaves strengthens the hair and prevents baldness.


It seems that in recently born plants, those below 10 cm  in height, there could be one carcinogenic substance that disappears once the plant has grown. The name of this substance considered potentially carcinogenic is methylugenol.

Essential Oil

Essential oil of basil has the same properties of the fresh leaves. The essential oil is useful in case of respiratory problems such as asthma, whooping cough etc. It has the ability to keep insects away at the same time alleviating the itching resulting from mosquito bites. It is sufficient to massage the affected area with a drop of essential oil. The antidepressant properties of essential oil are also good.


The basil is growing in many regions of the world but its origin goes back to India, Asia and Africa.

The Latin name of the basil Basilikon literally means royal grass. Imagine the great importance that this aromatic herb had in ancient times.

It is believed that the Crusaders also had to be aware of the therapeutic properties of basil. They were in fact used to fill the holds of their ships with this plant to drive away insects and cure infections.

Basil: properties and benefits

To enjoy its toning properties  on the skin, pour twenty drops of essential oil into the bath water before diving.

Already in antiquity there was evidence of the various properties that basil was supposed to have.  Pliny the Elder assured its efficacy against epileptic seizures, San Bernardo considered it an excellent means of removing obsessions and fixed ideas.

It is present in many kitchens around the world, especially in Italy, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

In Italy this spice has been considered a plant with aphrodisiac properties for a long time. In the Hindu religion and in Ayurvedic medicine the plant is used to promote healthy sexual function and good humor. ( 23 )

Maybe Not Everyone Knows That

There is also a variety of this plant called tulsi or sacred basil which in India is revered for its  medicinal properties used in Ayurvedic medicine.

The best basil , the one with the most aromatic properties , is the one harvested in the period just before flowering.

Always in antiquity, to determine whether a place was more or less healthy for health, it was customary to observe how the growth of the basil behaved in that place.

It can be kept dried but in this way it loses most of its aromatic properties. Best to keep it frozen to better maintain its characteristic aroma.

To reduce stress, a basil-based infusion can be added to the bath water.

Basil: Properties and Benefits

Italian language version


This is not a medical newspaper, the information provided by this site is for informational purposes only and is of a general nature, it cannot in any way replace the prescriptions of a doctor or other health professionals authorized by law. The notions of dosage, medical procedures and product descriptions on this site have an illustrative purpose and do not allow to acquire the necessary experience and manual skills for their practice or their use. If you have been prescribed medical care I urge you not to interrupt or modify them, because all the suggestions you find on  must always and in any case be compared with the opinion of your doctor.

Pulsante per tornare all'inizio