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Basil: the discovery

Basil, scientifically known as Ocimum basilicum, is a spice plant that has been used in cooking and as a medicinal herb for centuries. Originally from India, basil found its way to Europe and the Mediterranean region via the old trade routes. Here it quickly became known for its culinary and medicinal properties. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used it in rituals and as a remedy.

Dosage forms and dosage

Basil can be taken in various forms:

  • Fresh leaves: these can be used directly in salads, as a garnish or in pesto.
  • Dried leaves: are often used as a spice in the kitchen.
  • Basil oil: is distilled from the leaves and used internally and externally.
  • Tea: is prepared from the leaves and has a relaxing and digestive effect.
  • Capsules or tablets: Available in health food stores and pharmacies as a dietary supplement.

The dosage depends on the form and intended use. With fresh or dried leaves, one to two teaspoons per dish is often sufficient. With basil oil, one to two drops are sufficient. Capsules and tablets should be taken according to the package instructions, usually once or twice a day.

Basil: healing effects and applications

Digestive disorders

It has diuretic properties that help with flatulence and bloating. A tea made from basil leaves can aid digestion and relieve stomach cramps.


Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it can help with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and other inflammatory conditions. Basil oil or extracts can reduce inflammation in the body.


It has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It can be used to prevent and treat infections. A basil extract can be applied to skin infections and small wounds.

Stress and sleep disorders

It has an adaptogenic effect, i.e. it helps the body to adapt to and cope with stress. A tea made from basil leaves before going to bed can have a calming effect and promote sleep.

Cardiovascular diseases

It can help improve heart health. It helps to lower blood pressure and improve blood circulation. This can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Diseases of the respiratory tract

Due to its expectorant properties, it can help to loosen mucus and clear the airways. A steam bath with basil oil can be beneficial for colds and bronchitis.

Basil: effects on the body

The healing effect is based on various bioactive compounds, including eugenol, linalool and methyl chavicol. These compounds have an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effect. They support the immune system, promote digestion and have a calming effect on the nervous system.

Consumption recommendations and precautions

When should basil be used?

It can be consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet. It is particularly recommended for digestive complaints, stress, mild inflammation and to strengthen the immune system.

Who should avoid basil?

People with a known allergy or other labiates should avoid it. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume it in large quantities, as high doses can have undesirable effects. Caution should be exercised when taking blood-thinning medication, as it can increase their effect.

Food supplements and medicinal plants

Food supplements

Medicinal plants

  • Turmeric: Enhances the anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Ginger: Promotes digestion and also has an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Lavender: Combined, it can enhance the calming and sleep-promoting effect.

Foods rich in basil

It is found in many Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Typical examples are:

  • Pesto: sauce made from fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan and olive oil.
  • Caprese salad: Salad made from tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and olive oil.
  • Pasta sauces: Many tomato sauces contain basil as a spice.

Basil: side effects and overdose

Side effects

It is safe and well tolerated in most cases. Occasionally, allergic reactions such as skin rashes or breathing difficulties may occur. External application of basil oil can cause skin irritation, especially on sensitive skin.


Excessive consumption, especially of basil oil, can lead to gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea and vomiting. High doses can also impair blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding.

Natural medicinal forms

Basil is used in various forms in natural medicine:

  • Aromatherapy: basil oil is used to reduce stress and elevate mood.
  • Phytotherapy: It is used as a tea or extract to treat digestive problems and inflammation.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): It is used to treat respiratory diseases and to strengthen the immune system.

It is a versatile and valuable medicinal plant that has a supportive effect in many areas of health. Its wide range of applications and easy integration into the daily diet make it an indispensable part of naturopathy.

Basil: history and culture

Origin and distribution

It has a rich and varied history that is deeply rooted in cultures around the world. It was first discovered in India and used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. From there, the plant spread to Europe via the Middle East. In ancient Greece and Rome, it was known as the “royal herb” and was often used in religious ceremonies.

Symbolism and mythology

Basil is symbolically and mythologically revered in many cultures. In India, it is dedicated to the goddess Tulsi and is considered sacred in many households. In ancient Egypt, it was used in embalming and the Greeks believed that it should grow on the graves of the deceased to ensure a safe passage to the afterlife.

Medical research

Modern findings

In modern medical research, basil continues to be studied intensively. Studies have shown that the compounds it contains, such as eugenol, linalool and apigenin, offer a range of health benefits. These compounds act as powerful antioxidants and can help reduce oxidative damage in the body.

Clinical studies

Clinical studies have investigated the effectiveness in the treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic inflammation. One study showed that regular consumption of basil extract can lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Another study found that basil oil can alleviate the symptoms of arthritis and improve general mobility.

Practical application in everyday nutrition

Recipes and preparation suggestions

There are many tasty and healthy recipes for integrating it into your daily diet:

  • Basil pesto: a classic that is easy to prepare and goes well with pasta, bread or as a dip. Puree fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil in a blender.
  • Basil and tomato soup: A warming soup with fresh basil for an intense aroma.
  • Basil smoothie: A healthy start to the day with spinach, pineapple, yogurt and fresh basil leaves.

Combine with other herbs and spices

Basil combines perfectly with other herbs and spices. It can be combined with oregano, thyme and rosemary to add depth and complexity to Mediterranean dishes. In Asian cuisine, it is often used together with coriander, mint and ginger

Important notes and contraindications

Special precautions

Although it has many beneficial health effects, there are certain groups of people who should exercise caution:

  • Pregnant women: Large amounts are not recommended as eugenol can stimulate the uterus.
  • People with blood clotting disorders: As it may affect blood clotting, people with blood clotting disorders or
  • people taking blood-thinning medication should consult a doctor before consuming it.

Basil: Interactions with medicines

It can interact with certain medications. These include

  • Blood thinners: the anticoagulant effect can increase the effect of blood thinners such as warfarin.
  • Diabetes medication: As it can lower blood sugar levels, diabetics should check their blood sugar levels regularly and adjust the dosage of their medication if necessary.

Side effects and overdose

Side effects

It is generally safe and well tolerated, but allergic reactions may occur in sensitive individuals. These include skin rashes, itching or breathing difficulties. When using basil oil externally, a carrier oil should always be used to avoid skin irritation.


Excessive consumption, especially in the form of concentrated oils or extracts, can lead to gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In extreme cases, it can overstimulate the nervous system, causing restlessness and palpitations.

Basil in naturopathy

Traditional applications

In Ayurveda, basil, also known as tulsi, is regarded as the “elixir of life” and is used for a variety of ailments, including respiratory diseases, skin diseases and to generally strengthen the immune system.

Modern naturopathy

In modern naturopathy, it is often used in the form of tinctures, extracts and essential oils. These preparations are generally more concentrated and therefore have a stronger therapeutic effect. It is also used in aromatherapy to reduce stress and brighten the mood.


Basil is much more than just an aromatic culinary herb. Its many health-promoting properties make it a valuable plant in both traditional and modern medicine. It can be easily integrated into the daily diet and is available in various forms, making it a natural and effective supplement to promote health. When used correctly and following the above precautions, it can become an indispensable part of a healthy lifestyle.

Published on: 26. June 2024


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