Basil 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. Basil (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. Basil Tea will help with: 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: