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Herbs for Health: Thai Basil

Updated: Apr 1

Thai basil, also known as "Holy Basil" is a fragrant herb commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly in Thai dishes. Its unique blend of sweet and liquorice (anise) flavours adds a delightful complexity to soups, curries, stir-fries, rice and noodle dishes, making it a staple in many Asian kitchens.

  • In addition to its culinary appeal, Thai basil offers a range of health benefits due to its polyphenol content. Key polyphenols found in Thai basil are chicoric acid, rosmarinic acid and eugenol, compounds with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Eugenol helps protect cells from oxidative damage and may reduce inflammation in the body, potentially benefiting overall health.

"Thai basil's spicy overtones are instantly recognisable in the Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, lightly fried or added raw to soups, salads and fresh rolls. It can even be made into a pesto."
  • Thai basil contains other beneficial polyphenols, such as flavonoids like apigenin and luteolin. These compounds also possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, contributing to the herb's potential health-boosting properties.

  • In traditional medicine, Thai basil has been used for its potential benefits in relieving respiratory conditions, such as asthma and bronchitis, due to its essential oils and aromatic compounds that can aid in easing breathing.

  • Beyond its culinary and medicinal uses, Thai basil provides essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin A, iron, and calcium, which contribute to its overall nutritional value.

"My first experience of Thai basil was from a dust coated jar, bought in a store on Brixton's Electric Avenue. I still remember the pungent fragrance when the sauce hit the hot pan - heavenly!"

Add Thai basil to chicken, beef or pork dishes, curries and fresh salads:

  1. Thai basil chicken (Pad Krapow Gai)

  2. Thai basil beef (Pad Gra Prow)

  3. Thai basil fried rice

  4. Thai basil eggplant (Pad Krapow Talay)

  5. Thai basil coconut curry

Thai larb recipe

As part of a nutritionally rich, whole health lifestyle, at The Whole Health Practice we advocate enjoying herbs (and spices) as a regular part of one’s diet. While some herbs have shown positive results for specific health outcomes, nutrition science and the interaction of polyphenols from different plant sources is incredibly complex.

Enjoy a healthy eating pattern with a variety of herbs, spices and whole foods that work in synergy to promote maximum health. Think fruits, berries, beans, vegetables, and whole grains; add colour to your dishes wherever possible.


Incorporate Thai basil into your cooking, you will not only elevate the flavours of your dishes but also harness the potential health benefits of its polyphenols and other nutrients.

Stay Healthy,



More than just taste, herbs can bring health and joy to our lives. Read on for our complete collection of articles, recipes and more...


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Related Studies

Aminian AR, Mohebbati R, Boskabady MH. The Effect of Ocimum basilicum L. and Its Main Ingredients on Respiratory Disorders: An Experimental, Preclinical, and Clinical Review. Front Pharmacol. 2022 Jan 3;12:805391. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.805391. PMID: 35046828; PMCID: PMC8762307.

Mackonochie M, Rodriguez-Mateos A, Mills S, Rolfe V. A Scoping Review of the Clinical Evidence for the Health Benefits of Culinary Doses of Herbs and Spices for the Prevention and Treatment of Metabolic Syndrome. Nutrients. 2023 Nov 22;15(23):4867. doi: 10.3390/nu15234867. PMID: 38068725; PMCID: PMC10708057.



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