Herbs can do wonder to your cooking. And it can do wonder to your skin too. There are more than a few herbs that can be grown at home easily and picked freshly to treat various skin issues. Basil is one of them, which has immense benefits for our skin. While the medicinal and culinary uses of basil make it popular across the globe, it can also be used as a powerful natural acne treatment. Yes, you can use basil for acne, breakouts, and pimples effectively. How? Well, let us talk about it in this article.
What is Basil?
Basil, also called great basil or the ‘king of herbs’, is native to tropical regions from central Africa to Southeast Asia. The annual herb with green fragrant leaves is also extensively cultivated in France, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Morocco, and the United States (1). It has been holding a prominent place in Indian Ayurveda for more than 5,000 years. Belonging to the mint family (Lamiaceae), this versatile herb can be of different types and each of them comes with its own signature aroma and flavor. The most commonly used basil is sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), which is an indispensable part of many Mediterranean (specifically Italian), Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese cuisines. It is added to soups, stews, salads, curries, sauces (pesto), pasta, pizza, stir-fries, marinades, etc. as a food seasoning for its distinctive flavor and a strong, pungent, often sweet smell. The culinary herb is used in various forms like fresh leaves, extract, dried powder, herbal tea, or oil and adds bulk nutrition to the diet. Basil essential oil is also known to have potent medicinal and healing properties, which not only helps in treating several health conditions but also aids in maintaining skin and hair.
Basil contains essential volatile oils like cinnamate, citronellol, geraniol, linalool, pinene, terpineol, etc., which contribute to its strong antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antidepressive properties. The concentration of these essential oils in basil determines the characteristic aroma and flavor of each herb species.
Common Varieties of Basil
Basil has varied species with significant botanical differences. These include the following (2):
- Sweet Basil: It is the most popular and widely grown variety used in worldwide cuisines. We have already talked about it in the previous segment.
- Bush or Greek Basil: This kind of basil plant grows like a compact bush in a small pot and has small leaves. It often replaces sweet basil for its strong aroma yet mild flavor.
- It is also called tulsi or tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) and is different from sweet basil. The entire plant of holy basil has excellent therapeutic value and it is commonly used in herbal tea and supplements. In India, it is considered a sacred plant and is offered to God.
- Thai Basil: As the name suggests, this type of basil is a staple in Thai and Southeast Asian dishes. It has a unique flavor that is very much similar to that of licorice and/or star anise.
- Lemon Basil: This basil variety has narrow, elongated oval leaves that are used in both raw and cooked applications. They impart a refreshing citrusy flavor in foods.
- Cinnamon Basil: Originated from Mexico, this type of basil has a cinnamon-like fragrance and flavor. It is usually served with legumes or stir-fries.
- Lettuce Basil: The leaves of this basil resemble large, wrinkled, soft leaves of lettuce. It has a licorice-like flavor that goes very well with salads.
Nutrition Content of Basil
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, basil has a high nutritional value. A tablespoon of fresh basil (2.5 gm.) contains plenty of nutrients including plenty of vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin K), traces of minerals (calcium, iron, zinc), a range of antioxidants (beta carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin), and chlorophyll. (3)
Why Use Basil for Acne?
When it comes to treating any kind of breakouts including acne, pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, etc. in a natural way, basil acts as an all-rounder. But what makes the herb such a powerful acne remedy? Let us find out:
1. Has Antimicrobial Effects
Basil has excellent antimicrobial properties, which make it a highly effective cure for breakouts (4). It prevents the overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria named Propionibacterium acnes and drives them away successfully.
2. Prevents Infections
The herb even puts a stop to staph infections in our skin in which the bacteria become resistant to antibiotics and keep growing at a rapid pace (5).
3. Cleanses the Skin
4. Purifies Blood
Being a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent, basil helps in removing toxins from the bloodstream (6). As the blood gets purified, the possibilities of developing more breakouts in the future go down.
5. Soothes Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory properties of basil not only help in reducing the swelling of pimples by soothing inflammation but also curb the pain associated with them (7).
7 Ways to Use Basil for Acne
Now, as you have wised up, it is time to explore some amazing basil remedies that would help you get rid of those unsightly acne, breakouts, and pimples in an easy and natural way. Here we go:
1. Fresh Basil Juice
Collect some fresh organic basil leaves and clean them properly. Crush them well to take out the juice. Apply it all over your face or only to the troubled parts with the help of a cotton ball and massage gently with fingertips. Wait for 15 minutes so that the juice gets absorbed into the skin completely. Then, wash off with cold water. Keep repeating twice a day until you get the desired results.
2. Regular Basil Tea Toner
Prepare a basil tea toner by boiling 5 to 10 fresh basil leaves in a cup of water for 7 to 10 minutes. Strain the liquid and discard the basil particles. Let the toner cool down completely and then, apply it to the troubled areas of your skin with a cotton ball. It will dry up automatically and you do not need to wash it off. Use it as many times as possible in a day to enjoy clear skin.
You can also replace the fresh leaves with 2 tablespoons of dried leaves or basil powder. However, if you use fresh basil leaves, make sure that you crush them a little to help most of its natural oil transfer to the water.
3. Basil Essential Oil Toner
Basil essential oil is also very effective in treating acne, breakouts, and pimples. You can buy a bottle of this oil from a reputed brand and use 8 to 10 drops in 3 tablespoons of water to prepare your toner mixture. Apply it to your acne and pimples in a regular manner to shrink them up and heal eventually. This will also help you prevent further breakouts and get flawless skin over time.
4. Herbal Basil Toner
Here is another excellent basil toner recipe that comes with the goodness of many other herbs. Prepare a green tea infusion by boiling and dissolving thyme and basil leaves in water. Take 6 tablespoons of this infusion in a bowl and pour some more boiling water into it. Add 5 to 7 drops of tea tree oil to the infusion and keep the bowl aside for 20 minutes. Once it reaches the room temperature, strain the mixture carefully, and pour 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar to it. Mix well and use it as a facial toner to keep acne and pimples at bay.
5. Basil Facial Steaming
Give yourself a facial steaming by adding a few fresh basil leaves to a pot of boiling water. All you need to do is to lean over the pot and steam your face thoroughly for 10 to 15 minutes. It will help you get a clean, supple, and refreshed face by opening up the clogged skin pores and offering a deep cleansing. When done with the facial steaming, splash fresh cold water on your skin. This should be practiced at least thrice every week in order to both heal existing acne and avert its growth.
6. Basil and Gram Flour Face Mask
Take some dried basil and mint leaves in a bowl. Grind them together to make a fine powder. Add a little gram flour and 3 to 4 tablespoons of water to it. Combine well so that you can come up with a smooth thick paste. Apply this mask to your whole face and wait for 15 minutes. Then, rinse off with cold water to reveal acne and blemish-free beautiful skin. Do not forget to use this mask at least twice every week to get the best results.
7. Basil and Neem Face Mask
Take fresh and clean basil leaves and neem leaves 5 to 7 each in a food processor. Add a little water to them and form a smooth paste of medium consistency. Spread it all over your face and wash off after 15 minutes with fresh cold water. Both basil and neem will induce antimicrobial effects in your skin and put a stop to those pesky breakouts. Repeat thrice a week and the result will be visible in just a couple of weeks.
Read Also – Revealing the Link Between Oil Pulling and Acne
Other Skin Benefits of Basil
Being loaded with antioxidants, basil does a lot more good to our skin rather than just treating acne and pimples. Have a look at them:
- Basil takes overall care of the skin by detoxifying it and protecting it from sun damage. It purifies the blood from toxins and protects skin cells from the harmful effects of the UV rays of the sun with its antioxidant content.
- The herb lightens the skin tone and adds a natural glow to it. A concoction prepared by mixing olive oil and lemon juice with basil oil is sure to give you a brighter complexion naturally.
- When combined with Multani mitti and lemon juice, basil oil gives a blemish-free, flawless skin. It not only prevents the outbreaks of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, etc. but also tightens the skin pores instantly.
- Being a great source of antioxidant vitamin C, basil slows down aging successfully. It boosts metabolism in skin cells and maintains the skin collagen, which retains the elasticity of the skin and makes you look younger.
- Basil also treats insect bites, burns, wounds, and a number of other skin diseases (eczema, psoriasis, etc.) effectively. The anti-inflammatory properties of the herb help it soothe skin infections and promote quicker healing.
Hair Benefits of Basil
Apart from skin, basil is an amazing natural remedy for hair too. When chronic hair problems give you sleepless nights, this simple herb may work as a surefire cure. Check out the hair benefits offered by basil below:
- Basil is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that soothes dry itchy scalp and all other associated issues like dandruff, infections, etc. As a result, the scalp becomes healthy.
- If you suffer from excessive hair fall, basil may reduce it to a great extent. It strengthens hair roots and delivers nourishment to the hair fibers so that you do not lose them so frequently.
- The lightweight and refreshing basil oil is known to stimulate hair follicles by boosting blood circulation throughout the scalp. Hence, massaging the scalp with it may promote the growth of new and healthy hair significantly.
- Basil also helps in combating premature graying of hair. It makes gray hair comparatively darker while enhancing the overall texture and volume of your locks.
Health Benefits of Basil
Whether you add basil to your diet or use basil essential oil, the herbal medicine will always take the greatest care of your health. Here is why basil is a good choice for health:
- The abundance of antioxidants, especially anthocyanins and beta carotene, in basil helps in eliminating free radicals from the body and reducing oxidative stress. (8)
- Holy basil contains certain phytochemicals, which promote antioxidant activity in the body. This is essential in fighting against different types of cancers (skin, oral, liver, lung, etc.). (9)
- When it comes to supporting the health of the liver, Holy basil is considered highly effective. It basically makes the organ toxin-free and restores its normal functionalities.
- The extract of sweet basil comprises the chemical eugenol in a high amount, which has been found to reduce high blood pressure briefly by blocking calcium channels in the body (10). It may also lower the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the body, thus maintaining cardiovascular health well.
- Sweet basil extracts are also quite effective in bringing blood sugar levels under control as well as treating long-term effects of high blood sugar. (11)
Side Effects of Basil
The topical application of basil is generally a safe bet. You may still want to do a patch test and dilute basil essential oil before application to avoid irritation or inflammation. If you want to include it in your diet as a supplement, make sure that you consult your doctor first. The herb is pretty high in vitamin K and hence, should be used cautiously by people using blood thinners. Some of you may also experience allergic reactions (hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing) after consuming basil. Basil is also not a suitable option for pregnant women and patients with a seizure disorder.
Read Also – How to Get Rid of Pimples on Nose
Basil is a fragrant, versatile herb from the mint family. It can be of different types (sweet basil, bush or Greek basil, Holy basil, Thai basil, lemon basil, cinnamon basil, lettuce basil). Depending on the essential volatile oil content, each basil species holds its own distinctive aroma and flavor. Sweet basil is the most common and popular variety that is used in worldwide cuisines as a food seasoning. The herb has been holding a prominent place in Indian Ayurveda for more than 5,000 years for its strong antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antidepressive properties. It also acts as a potent natural acne treatment by fighting against bacteria, preventing infections, cleansing the skin, purifying blood, and soothing inflammation. Consuming fresh basil juice, using basil tea or essential oil toner, practicing basil facial steaming, applying basil face masks, etc. are some of the most effective ways to treat acne. Besides, basil also helps in lightening skin tone, delaying aging, preventing hair fall, and promoting hair growth. High nutritional value of basil is also great for treating oxidative damage, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, high blood sugar, cancer, etc. However, it is always good to consult the doctor before having basil as a supplement to avoid adverse effects.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Basil Help You Lose Weight?
Fresh leaves of basil may reduce metabolic stress and target fat molecules in the body. This eventually causes weight loss.
Can You Eat Basil Leaves Raw?
Yes, basil leaves can be eaten both raw and cooked.
How Many Basil Leaves a Day?
If you have fresh and raw basil, limit it to 2-3 leaves every day on an empty stomach.
Is Basil a Laxative?
The seeds of basil have been found to provide relief from abdominal gas as well as constipation by working as a laxative.
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- “Effectiveness of Antimicrobial Formulations for Acne Based on Orange (Citrus sinensis) and Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) Essential Oils“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Basil: A Natural Source of Antioxidants and Nutraceuticals“, ResearchGate.net
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- “Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Properties of Traditional Green and Purple “Napoletano” Basil Cultivars (Ocimum basilicum L.) From Campania Region (Italy)“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Ocimum sanctum L. (Holy Basil or Tulsi) and Its Phytochemicals in the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Role of Natural Herbs in the Treatment of Hypertension“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Glucose Lowering Effect of Basil Leaves in Diabetic Rats“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov