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Healing Powers of Herb

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer
08 August 2015   |   2:01 am
Beyond Culinary And Flavoring Use Of Herbs Have You Thought Of Their Healing Powers?
Thai sweet basil(Horopa) flowering  with  purple –green leaves

Thai sweet basil(Horopa) flowering with purple –green leaves

Beyond Culinary And Flavoring Use Of Herbs Have You Thought Of Their Healing Powers?

DID you know that herbs contain powerful anti-cancer properties? Using herbs for cancer prevention and treatment is by no means a novel, modern or alternative practice. Herbs have been used in the treatment of cancer for many years and the constituent chemicals of plants have been the starting point for research and creation of many modern medicines. However, today’s writing is on the benefits from common garden herbs. Herbs are nature’s medicine cabinet, the lovely bounty of nature. Home gardeners are able to look no further than their backyard for flavorful herbs to add to tasty meals.

We’ve also known they’re tasty, but now that they offer a heck-of-a-lot more than just flavor. Everyday garden herbs possess legions of medicinal properties and, when eaten in conjunction with healthy vegetables and spices or taken as healing daily tea act as powerful boost against diseases and various illnesses.

Get to know your herbs, grow them in your garden for ready use and those you cannot, buy in the local market herbal stalls. The easiest and least expensive way to reduce your risk to illness and diseases like cancer, is to put lots of herbs in your diet. They are not only bring great aroma and flavor to your food, but lots of vitamins, minerals, essential oils and other properties such as immune-boosters, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidants etc. let’s consider some herbs you must have in the garden in or outdoors, so long as there is sunshine.

Basil, Ocimum Basilicum (Nchanwu Ibo; Efirin Yoruba; Ntong – Efik; Ekenyi Kalabari, or Scent leaf’s Daidoya Hausa; Aramogbo)
THE king of herbs basil is one of the most ancient and popular herbal plants brimming with notable health-benefiting phytonutrients. This highly prized plant is revered as ‘‘Holy herb” in many cultures around the world. Fresh basil leaves are added to flavor any vegetable, poultry, or meat dish. The herb is also used in tomato and egg dishes, stews, soups and salads.
Health Benefits of Basil Herb

Basil leaves hold many notable plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have diseases preventing and health promoting properties. Basil herbs contains poplyphnolic flavonoids like orientin and vicenin, compounds which have been in-vitro laboratory for their anti-oxidant protection against radiation-induced lipid in mouse liver. Basil leaves compose of several health benefiting essential oil such as eugenol, citronellol, linaloal, citral, limoriene and terpineol which are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Eugenal is an important essential oil in basil that has been found to have anti-inflammatory function by acting against the enzyme cycloxygenase (COX). COX enzymes mediates inflammatory reaction inside the human body. This enzyme-inhibiting effect of eugenol in basil makes it an important remedy for symptomatic relief in individuals with inflammatory health problems like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and inflammatory bound conditions.

Oil of basil herb has been found to have anti-infective functions by inhibiting many pathogenic bacteria like Staphylococcus, Enterococci, Shigella and Pseudomonas. Basil tea (brewed basil water) helps relieve nausea and is thought to have mild antiseptic functions. In traditional medicine, it is used to lower blood pressure; in medication for HIV-AIDS; for sexually transmitted diseases; as vaginal douche for vaginitis. It is used as insect repellent, especially mosquitoes.

The herb is low in calories and contains no cholesterol. Nonetheless it is one of the finest source of many essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins that are required for optimum health. Basil contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene, Vitamin A, cyryptoxanthin Lutein and Zea-xanthin. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Zea-zanthin, a yellow flavonoid carotenoid compound is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea where it found to filter harmful UV rays from reaching the retina.

Studies suggest that common herbs, fruits and vegetables that are rich in zea-zanthin anti-oxidant help to protect from age-related macular disease (AMRD), especially in the elderly 100 g of fresh herb basil leaves contain astounding 5275 mg or 175 per cent of daily required doses of Vitamin A which is known to have antioxidant properties and essential for vision. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucusa and skin.

Consumption of natural foods rich in Vitamin A has been found to help the body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. Vitamin K in basil is essential for production of clotting factors in the blood and plays a vital role in the bone strengthening and mineralization. Basil herb contains a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper and mangnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Basil leaves are excellent source of iron. Its fresh leaves carry 3.17m/100g (about 26 per cent of RDA) of iron, being a component of haemoglobin inside red blood cells, is one of the chief determinants of oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.

Basil is a leafy fragrant annual herb. The most common type of basil is sweet basil; other types include purple basil, lemon basil (lemon flavor) and Thai basil (licorice flavor).

Basil belongs to the family Lamiaceae, in the genus: Ocimum. Its scientific name is ‘Ocimum basilicum.”

Basil grow best under warm, tropical climates, soil should be around 700F for best growth. Fully grown plant reaches about 100cm in height. It leaves vary from light-green to purple, smooth and silky, about 1-2.5 inches long and 0.5 to 1 inch broad with opposite arrangement. The flowers are quite large, white or purple, arranged in terminal spikes.

Basil needs full sum exposure and loamy soil type. Plant seeds/seedlings in the ground about ¼ inch deep. The soil should be around 700F for best growth. Plant the seeds/seedlings about 10 to 12 inches apart. They should grow about 12 to 24 inches in height. For smaller plants, plant farther apart (about 16 to 24 inches). During the dry periods water the plants freely. Remember to pinch out flowerbeads as soon as they appear to make sure that leaves will continue growing. If you’re planning on cooking with these plants, plant in clean soil (don’t use fertilizers that leave harmful residences) and grow them a way from driveways and busy streets so that exhaust fumes won’t settle on the plants. Tomatoes make good companionss for basil plants in the garden.

Make sure the soil is moist. Basil plants like moisture. If you live in a hot area, use mulch around the basil base (the mulch will keep the soil moist). Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to encourage new growth. After 6 weeks, pinch off the center shoot to prevent early flowering. If flowers do grow, just cut them off.

Aphids and a variety of bacterial and fungal leaf, stems and root diseases.
Harvest And Storage

After the seedling have their first six leaves, prune to above the second set. Everytime a branch has six to eight leaves repeat pruning the branches back to their first set of leaves. The best time to harvest is right when the plant start to bud (before the flowers bloom). Basil is most pungent when it is fresh. If pruned regularly, twelve basil plants will produce 4 to 6 cups of leaves per week. The best method for storage is freezing. Freezing will prevent plant from losing any of its flavor. To quick-freeze basil, dry whole sprigs of basil and package them in air-tight plastic bags. Another storage method is drying the basil (although some of the flavor will be lost). Pinch of the leaves at the stem and place them in a well-ventilated and shady area. After 3 to 4 days, if plants are not completely dry, place them in the oven on the lowest heat setting with door slightly open. Remember to turn the leaves (for equal drying) and check them frequently.

Dried basil should be kept in tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for up to six months.

Varieties of basil exist ‘‘Mediterranean” cultivar which is typically known as sweet basil has light green leaves as opposite to ‘‘Asian basil” (Ocinum sanctum) that features large hairy stems and stalks with pink flowers, purple or pink leaves, in addition to possessing stronger ‘clove’ like flavor. There is lemon basil, which has ‘‘lemon” flavor. Thai basil (0. Basilicum ‘Horapha’) is similar in characteristics to Asian basil but features narrow, pointed light green color leaves with a sweet licorice like aroma. Mediterranean sweet basil is mild and possesses sweet anise/clove flavor. For the same reason it is also recognized as culinary basil since it is used extensively in the cuisine all over the world.