Sweet benefits of basil

CorbisCorbisBy Leslie Barrie

From busting stress to clearing your skin, this herb has some serious mind-body benefits.

Blemish eraser
Clear up that breakout with basil! The herb's oil helps combat the bacteria that causes pimples, according to a study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science.

Try this blemish-fighting fix from aesthetician Rena Revivo, chief executive officer of Spa de Soleil: Boil a handful of fresh basil leaves in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes; let the liquid cool. Dip a cotton ball into the liquid, pat it on your breakout zones, wait 10 minutes, then splash with water; repeat once or twice a day.

Note:
If you're pregnant or breast-feeding, discuss basil usage with your doc.

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Stress stopper
Feeling frazzled this summer? This herb can mellow you out. "Holy basil has antianxiety effects," explains botanist James Duke, PhD, author of The Green Pharmacy. It contains phytochemicals that studies suggest may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you're tense.

Simmer down on a hot, harried day by adding the herb to your iced tea: Add 2 or 3 leaves (per serving) while your tea is steeping. Lounge chair optional.

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PMS fix
You may want to eat more basil during that time of the month: The herb is a super source of iron-a little more than 2 cups of chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried provides 10% of your daily value, making it on par with spinach.

Eating it during your period can replenish some of the iron lost when you menstruate, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet. Sprinkle some sliced basil over chopped pineapple (which helps combat bloat).

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Inside-out cleanser
If you overate at a backyard barbecue or threw back too many margaritas, break out the holy basil, which "has been found to help detoxify the liver," says Elizabeth Trattner, an integrative health-care practitioner in Bay Harbor, Florida. The morning after, whip up some body-cleansing pesto to top your feel-better food of choice!