Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum

Bahasa Indonesian: Kemangi

Batak: Kemangi

Basic Information: Basil is native to tropical regions from central Africa to Southeast Asia. It is a tender plant, and is used in cuisines worldwide. Depending on the species and cultivar, the leaves may taste somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell. There are many varieties of basil, as well as several related species or hybrids also called basil. The type used commonly as a flavor is typically called sweet basil (or Genovese basil), as opposed to Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), lemon basil (O. × citriodorum), and holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum). Depending on the variety, plants can reach between 30 cm (0.98 ft) and 150 cm (4.9 ft). Its leaves are richly green and ovate, but otherwise come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes depending on cultivar. Leaf sizes range from 3 cm (1.2 in) to 11 cm (4.3 in) long, and between 1 cm (0.39 in) and 6 cm (2.4 in) wide.

Health Benefits:

  1. Contains Disease-Fighting Antioxidants – Basil contains water soluble flavonoids called rientin and viceninare which can help to protect white blood cells.
  2. Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory – Basil contains powerful essential oils, including eugenol, citronellol and linalool. These are enzyme-inhibiting oils that help lower inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions.
  3. Fights Cancer – Basil contains phytochemicals, which can help naturally prevent cancer, including chemical-induced skin, liver, oral and lung cancers.
  4. Contains Antibacterial Properties – Another one of the benefits of basil essential oils is to provide protection against harmful bacterial growth.
  5. Combats Stress by Acting as an ‘Adaptogen’ – Studies show that basil has strong potential to act as a natural adaptogen, an herbal medicine that helps the body adapt to stress and to normalize the harmful effects of stressors on bodily processes.
  6. Fights Depression – Basil is also considered an antidepressant by some since it can positively impact brain function within the adrenal cortex, helping stimulate neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones responsible for making us happy and energetic.

Fun Facts:

  • The words ‘basil’ and ‘basilicum’ are derived from the Greek ‘basilikon’, meaning ‘royal’.
  • Though it’s an Italian favourite, basil actually originated in India over 4,000 years ago. From India and southeast Asia, it travelled westwards along the spice route, making its way to Persia, the Middle East and eventually Europe.
  • In ancient Greece, basil was so revered that they forbade it to be harvested with anything other than gold or silver. Experts today recommend tearing basil – never cutting – as metal oxidizes the basil, causing it to blacken and lose flavour.