is one of the most versatile herbs around, as any cook can tell you, and it's found in almost every type of cuisine there is. You have probably consumed more basil than you know (unless you're allergic to it) and may think of it as nothing more than a fancy cooking spice. I hope to change that.
(Ocimum basilicum) has a long history of medicinal and culinary use. It's part of the mint family and is native to India, though Asia and Italy use it quite a bit as well. In fact, the two main varieties are Sweet Basil
(Italy) and Thai Basil
(Asia). I said two main varieties because, through cultivation and modification, we actually have about 150 different varieties of Basil
in the world today.
That's a lot of choices!
It's been around for about 4,000 years and was believed to have magical and protective powers in many different cultures. For example, it was called the “herb of poverty” because it was said to protect the poor from illness and bad energy.
Egyptians used Basil
as part of their embalming process and often stuffed the leaves into their mummies.
The people of Greece used Basil
as a symbol of mourning.
Cretans thought that Basil
was an emblem of the devil and would place it on their windowsill to keep him at bay.
Another thing it was used for, and this might be my favorite bit of information, was to identify chastity. Apparently, if a sprig of Basil
wilted in the hands of a woman, she was considered to be impure.
Kind of ironic since Basil
can also increase the sex drive.
Thankfully, we are only going to focus on the healing properties of Basil
. It is used to treat a wide variety of illnesses, and I will list them out for you as best as I can, but I should warn you to consult with your doctor before trying herbs of any kind.
Let's start with a nice cup of Basil
Tea will help with:
- Cardiovascular health (contains a great amount of vitamin A, vitamin K, and magnesium to keep your heart pumping and your veins healthy)
- Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial (contains eugenol in its oil that blocks the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX), which causes most flare-ups. Also contains citronellol, linalool, citral, limonene, and terpineol. These help the eugenol and adds some antibacterial elements)
- Anti-aging (contains high amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin-A that protect against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging)
- Respiratory disorders (camphene, eugenol, and cineole in the oils help with asthma, bronchitis, coughs, and more)
- Fevers (the essential oil is especially great for fevers resultant from malaria, typhoid, and the flu because of it's antibiotic, germicidal, fungicidal and disinfectant properties)
Those are just a few of the benefits of Basil
tea, and I could list them all day long if I wanted to, but there are other uses for Basil
that need to be looked at, such as:
- Chewing 12 fresh Basil leaves a day can help reduce stress. It can also freshen your breath and help heal any mouth ulcers you may have.
- Basil juice can be applied to heal insect bites, skin ailments like ringworm, and generally keep the skin healthy by washing or bathing with it.
- There are rumors that it can even help with treating cancer and radiation poisoning, but I would do some major research (both online and with your doctor) before using it as a treatment.
Essentially, Basil is a wonder herb. It seems to help with any type of ailment, and it's fairly easy to grow. Check out The Farmer's Almanac for plenty of growing tips.
Ready to try Basil for yourself? Here is a quick and easy recipe that will be beneficial for the whole family.
Chop a handful of fresh Basil and add to a saucepan of water. Boil for about 8 minutes, then strain, add honey, and enjoy!
For more information about this amazing herb, check out Nutrition and You, Off the Grid News, World's Healthiest Foods, Basil Tea, My Spicer, and Organic Facts.
Photos came from Public Domain Pictures.