Basil, or albahaca in Spanish, is probably most associated with the Italian and Asian cuisine. Native to the tropical regions of southeastern Asia and central Africa, the culinary herb of the Lamiaceae family (mints) came to Peru with Chinese immigrants and found its place here thanks to the unique fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cooking.
There are numerous varieties of basil that vary a bit in appearance and extremely in aroma and taste.
Next to these domesticated basil varieties, you can find a relative from the same family in Peru
called Albahaca de monte, Peruvian basil, Amazonian basil, wild basil or alfavaca (Ocimum micranthum or Ocimum campechianum). This basil is native to the tropical regions of Mexico, Central America and South America and its aromatic leaves are used for medical purposes and in traditional ceremonies for ages.
- Even though rarely eaten in large enough amounts to be a significant source, Basil contains Vitamin A, C and K, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Basil has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-convulsant, anti-spasmodic, and anti-fungal properties.
- Tea brewed with fresh or dried basil leaves helps with stomach pains and spasms, nausea, digestion problems, and kidney conditions.
- Basil as well may help reduce blood pressure, improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and relax blood vessels.
- It further is believed to increase mental alertness and reduce memory loss.
- Basil is used for treating cuts, wounds, and skin infections being able to fight bacteria and fungi.
- And finally basil may repel insects such as mosquitos and ticks.