09 Aug

The Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Basil

Every year in the summer, my husband skips the flowers and brings home a bushel basket of basil from the farmers’ market for only $25. I’m always able to turn that gift into a freezer full of delicious homemade pesto. (Click here for my recipe.) You see, while basil is native to Asia and Africa, it’s Italy that has instilled this herb into our hearts ever since pesto became one of the world’s most loved sauces. No surprise then that in Italy (and in my home!), basil is a symbol of love. But I also love basil for a few other reasons: its intense aromatic oil scares pests away and ensures a good harvest, and it also happens to be an incredible guardian of your health, too!


Green and Purple Basil ~ JulieDaniluk.com

Click here to watch my video on the benefits of basil.


Have A Look At These Brilliant Basil Facts:

1. Basil is Anti-Microbial: Adding basil to your diet can help to protect you from bacteria, yeast and mold. Basil has strong anti-bacterial properties. (1) This powerful plant contains several essential oils that have been found to exhibit antimicrobial activity against a wide range of bacteria such as listeria, staphylococcus and salmonella. (2) These strains of bacteria are not only widespread, but are becoming resistant to treatment with antibiotic drugs.

2. Basil is Anti-Inflammatory: Basil not only provides healing benefits for people with inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, but it also provides relief from the symptoms. The volatile oils in basil contain a compound called eugenol, which mimics the action of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. (3

3. Basil is an Anti-Oxident: Basil can protect your DNA from radiation and oxidative damage. Basil contains compounds called flavonoids. Two of these compounds, orientin and vicenin, (4) (5) have been studied extensively and results show that they protect the structure of cells as well as chromosomes from damage caused by radiation and oxidation.

4. Basil is excellent for your skin: Basil contains volatile essential oils that can help in the fight against acne. The volatile oils in found in basil have strong antimicrobial action that can help to fight the bacteria responsible for causing acne. (6)

5. Basil is Anti-Cancerous: Basil oil’s eugenol also has anti-cancer properties. (7) It is well documented that eugenol has a protective effect against melanoma, skin tumours, osteosarcoma and leukemia.

6. Basil is excellent for cardiovascular system: Basil can protect your heart and help to reduce blood pressure. (8) The high levels of beta carotene in basil will be converted in the body to vitamin A. This vitamin provides strong antioxidant protection to the lining of the blood vessels and helps to prevent damage from free radicals. The high levels of magnesium in basil have been shown to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow. (9)


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1. Hossain MA1, Kabir MJ, Salehuddin SM, Rahman SM, Das AK, Singha SK, Alam MK, Rahman A. “Antibacterial properties of essential oils and methanol extracts of sweet basil Ocimum basilicum occurring in Bangladesh”:Pharm Biol. 2010 May;48(5):504-11. doi: 10.3109/13880200903190977.
2. Rattanachaikunsopon P1, Phumkhachorn P. “Antimicrobial activity of basil (Ocimum basilicum) oil against Salmonella enteritidis in vitro and in food.”: Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2010;74(6):1200-4. Epub 2010 Jun 7.
3. Uma Devi P1, Ganasoundari A, Rao BS, Srinivasan KK.”In vivo radioprotection by ocimum flavonoids: survival of mice.”: Radiat Res. 1999 Jan;151(1):74-8.
4. Vrinda B1, Uma Devi P.: “Radiation protection of human lymphocyte chromosomes in vitro by orientin and vicenin.”: Mutat Res. 2001 Nov 15;498(1-2):39-46.
5. Viyoch J1, Pisutthanan N, Faikreua A, Nupangta K, Wangtorpol K, Ngokkuen J. “Evaluation of in vitro antimicrobial activity of Thai basil oils and their micro-emulsion formulas against Propionibacterium acnes.”: Int J Cosmet Sci. 2006 Apr;28(2):125-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2494.2006.00308.x.
7. Jaganathan SK1, Supriyanto E.: “Antiproliferative and molecular mechanism of eugenol-induced apoptosis in cancer cells.” Molecules. 2012 May 25;17(6):6290-304. doi: 10.3390/molecules17066290.
8. Umar A1, Imam G, Yimin W, Kerim P, Tohti I, Berké B, Moore N: “Antihypertensive effects of Ocimum basilicum L. (OBL) on blood pressure in renovascular hypertensive rats.”: Hypertens Res. 2010 Jul;33(7):727-30. doi: 10.1038/hr.2010.64. Epub 2010 May 7.
9. Gums JG.: “Magnesium in cardiovascular and other disorders.”: Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2004 Aug 1;61(15):1569-76.


# Guest 2012-08-27 19:11
important info re basil
# Julie Daniluk 2012-08-28 08:26
Thank you Lois!

Cheers, Julie
# Guest 2012-08-29 21:30
How much basil does one need to consume, lets say per month, in order to reap the medicinal benefits? This article, like a previous one, rave about all the benefits but neither discuss how much one needs to consume nor how often. It would be nice if these types of articles contained some guidelines on consumption.

# Julie Daniluk 2012-08-30 09:02
Hello Blondnbrilliant,
Thanks for writing in! You raise an important question that I get from time to time.
The intention of my articles is to give general information about the amazing properties food. The dose and frequency of any supplement or herb would depend on a person’s age, height, weight, medical history and current needs. I refrain from giving such recommendations over the Internet to prevent the miss use of the advice.
I cannot legally and ethically give personal recommendations over the Internet without a thorough medical history. If you are looking to use basil (or any other herb) as a medicinal treatment I recommend seeing a Naturopathic or Holistic Medical Doctor for a detailed prescription. A ND or HMD would take a detailed medical history and list of your medications and current/past treatments so that they can recommend a new treatment safely.
Yours in good health, Julie
# Faith 2013-09-30 08:28
So, here's a weird question that no one has been able to answer yet. When my husband eats fresh basil, he actually gets serious stomach pain for hours to days (depending on how much he consumed). No other fresh herb seems to have this effect... have you ever heard of this before?

There are no other symptoms, so we're baffled, because of basil's known anti-inflammatory properties!
# Julie Daniluk 2013-09-30 14:47
Hello Faith,
This does not surprise me given the number of obscure reactions I have seen from healthy foods. Your husband may simply have an allergy to basil. :sad: At least he is aware of the cause of his symptoms and can avoid it. It is too bad as it is such a wonderful food. Let him know I have an allergy to almonds and my sister can't have cranberries without becoming very sick. Two very healthy and nutrient dense foods we would love to include in our diets.
Cheers, Julie
# Debra Oliver 2013-09-30 09:06
I can appreciate your concern about misusing your knowledge on the board or making inappropriate dosage recommendations. I would appreciate it if you could let me know the treatment plan and/or dosage progression that you found beneficial in your use of Basil. This will provide a reference point and insight into your own experience.

Thank you,
Debra Oliver
# Julie Daniluk 2013-09-30 14:42
Hello Debra,

I understand your desire for this information but I am legally obligated to recommend seeking the advice of a Naturopathic Doctor or Holistic Medical Doctor. If I give you specific information about my own treatment and you incorrectly used it as a reference point for your own, this would leave both of us in a compromised situation. I do not include specific doses not only because it can be taken out of context, I am also legally obligated not to diagnose, prescribe or treat. When I do a private consolation, all of my clients sign an extensive consent agreement where they take legal responsibility for the information they receive and their own health.

With kindest regards, Julie
# Darcy 2015-08-30 14:29
Thanks, will try the pesto. Love the smell! Heading to kitchen to make up "something" for dinner and incorporate basil. Hope the anti-inflammatory aspect kicks in.
# Julie Daniluk 2015-08-31 10:05
Hope you had a lovely meal Darcy!

Cheers, Julie
# Vic 2015-08-31 03:57
Hi! Thank you for sharing. Just wanted to add, about doses, something that I usually hear on cooking or nutrition classes, try it yourself, because each of us are so different, that even when someone authorized like a doctor gives you advice, that could not even be good for you. It happened to me, it happened to my parents and so many people I know. The key point in the end is to have your own experience. Also the safest way of trying something new in my opinion it's get the whole food. I mean incorporate the basil as basil in your diet, not as teas or powder for example, unless you have a trustable advice. The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines says exactly that, there are no side effects or interactions if you use basil as food (in the amounts tipically found in foods) instead of a medicinal use. I hope it helps! Peace.
# Julie Daniluk 2015-08-31 10:11
I whole heartedly agree Vic!

I am a nutritionist by training so I focus on whole food and the whole diet instead of concentrates. I cannot diagnose, treat or prescribe so I never give 'prescriptions'. Instead I encourage everyone to incorporate a variety of anti-inflammatory whole foods so the body can come into balance. 7 Billion Diets for 7 Billion People!

Anyone with a serious medical condition should seek the advice of a ND or holistic MD that can walk them through the protocol that is correct for their condition. My website is here to inform and inspire. I cannot legally, logistically or ethically give out advice over the internet.

Cheers, Julie

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