Where it's ALL about food!

Toggle Navigation

Basil as an Herb

Basil as an herb

Ocimum basilicum

Basil is a member of the mint family.

Like most other mints, basil is mainly used in medicine for its digestive and anti-gas properties. Herbalists also recommend it for stomach cramps, vomiting, constipation, headaches, and anxiety.

Christian Legend of Basil

Although the Bible makes no mention of basil, the plant is said to have grown at the site of Christ's crucifixion and is associated with St. Basil, whose feast day is celebrated in Greece on January 1 by having basil blessed at church

Nutrition Information for Basil

Sweet basil is low in calories, has almost no fat, and is a good source of vitamin A. Five fresh basil leaves have less than 1 calorie! Those five leaves also contain 96.6 IU of vitamin A, 3.85 mg of calcium, 11.55 mg of potassium plus smaller amounts of vitamin C and other vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.

Basil as an Herb for Medicinal Use

Basil is used to prepare many effective and highly beneficial herbal remedies, a steaming Holy Basil Tea can be used in the treatment of patients with fever. The person inhales the vapors by having his head covered with a blanket over the bowl containing the herbal tea.

The herbal tea made from the basil is also utilized in the internal as well as external treatment of eye problems, it is used as eyewash and the cooled basil tea is also drunk to treat all types of eye disorders.

What Basil is Used to Treat

  • Stomach cramps.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fevers.
  • Colds.
  • Flu.
  • Headaches.
  • Whooping cough.
  • Menstrual pain.
  • Reduce stomach acid for treatment of ulcers.
  • Eliminate worms from the intestines.

Basil is also used as a valuable addition to any recipe that uses tomatoes for those with sensitive stomachs.

Laboratory studies suggest that compounds in basil may help disrupt the dangerous chain of events that can lead to cancer. Basil's ability to prevent canerous changes was linked not to one particular compound in the herb. Instead, it was linked to several compounds working together. Basil is a rich source of antioxidants. Per 100 grams it has more antioxidants than dark chocolate, blackberries, strawberries or blueberries.

A serving size of basil is much smaller than that of chocolate or berries. But if you love the taste of the herb at least you know you're helping yourself to an extra dose of antioxidants. They are of great benefit against ultraviolet light, radiation and car exhaust.

Externally, basil can be used in the form a poultice made of mashed, pressed fresh leaves for insect bites to draw out the poisons.

Basil used in compresses and in baths has a healing effect.

Basil essential oil is made from basil leaves and diluted with a carrier oil. The oil can be applied directly to the skin. Use this to treat acne, arthritis, gout, and skin abrasions. The essential oil is used topically. The essential oil is antibacterial.

Drops of basil oil may relieve ear infections. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy to aid mental clarity and to calm the nerves.

Note: Basil has not been approved for medicinal use by the German Commission E.

Holy Basil

Holy Basil

Holy Basil is commonly grown in Hindu homes. It is considered a sacred plant in the Hindu religion. The Latin name Ocimum sanctum means "sacred fragrant lipped basil" or "the incomparable one" . Holy Basil has also been called the "Queen of Herbs" and "The Elixir of Life." Holy Basil is a very important herb in ayurvedic medicine, and has only recently been discovered and revered by western medicine.

Holy Basil is considered an adaptogen, which means that it assists the body adapt to stress (environmental, physical, or chemical), restore balance in the body, and normalize body functions. It is currently being studied for its beneficial properties and has been found to be effective for cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, stress, wound healing, the immune system, inflammations, liver support and protection, hypoglycemic conditions, ulcers, digestion, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, radiation poisoning, cataracts, the memory, respiratory system, urinary problems, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions, and it is an antioxidant.

Culinary Uses of Basil:

Basil plant

While there are numerous types of the basil plant, we tend to use sweet basil and bush basil for cooking because of its palatable taste. While most of us are familiar with basil as a culinary herb, the applications of basil in natural health are not as well known.

Store freshly cut basil on your kitchen counter in a glass with the water level covering only the stems. Change the water occasionally. It will keep for weeks this way, even develop roots! Basil hates to be cold, so never put it in the refrigerator. Also, regular cutting encourages new growth and healthier plants.

Basil's rich, pungent flavor complements garlic. As a spice, basil can be used generously in foods. Basil is a very versatile herb used in an abundant variety of foods. It is excellent in tomato-based dishes, spinach, and all types of squash. It is great in soup but don't add it until the last thirty minutes of cooking. It can also be used in cream cheese for sandwiches, dips, and pasta dishes. Basil is the main ingredient in pesto. It is excellent in spinach, and all types of squash.

Dried basil leaf can be added directly to food or drunk as a tea (1/2 teaspoon of dried herb steeped for 10 minutes in 1 cup of boiling water in a closed container) to relieve flatulence and fullness.

Basil leaves can be preserved by layering in salt. Layer sea salt and basil leaves in a glass pint jar with a plastic lid and storing in the refrigerator. Leaves will stay fresh and last until the next harvest season. Salt can then be used in soups and sauces or sprinkled over vegetables.

Italian large leaf basil: Pond the leaf with oil or tear with fingers. Add at last minute to cooked dishes. Sprinkle over salads and sliced tomatoes. Italian large leaf basil in pesto sauce and many Mediterranean dishes add great flavor and flavors blended vinegar dressings.

Growing Basil?

To germinate basil, plant the seeds in a flat pan filled with seed starting mix and cover the pan with a sheet of Saran Wrap to create a miniature green house.

Planting basil near tomato plants repels flies and worms, and, according to folklore, produces stronger and healthier basil and tomato plants.

Low-Fat Basil Pesto Sauce Recipe

To make your own low-fat pesto sauce at home, combine 2 slices toasted white bread (crusts removed), 1 cup packed basil leaves, 3 tablespoons toasted walnuts and 1 garlic clove. Process until finely chopped. Add 3 tablespoons Parmesan shredded cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons chicken broth. Pulse just until combined.

Folklore & Magickal

In Italy, sweet basil is called "kiss me Nicholas (bacia-nicola), it is thought to attract husbands to wives. A pot of basil on a windowsill is meant to signal a lover.

Basil soothes tempers between lovers, and is used in love incenses and sachets. In Moldavian folklore, if a man accepts a sprig of basil from a woman, he will fall in love with her.

Magickal Properties: Love, Wealth, Exorcism, Protection. It is a masculine plant associated with Mars and the element of Fire. Basil is considered a good luck charm in some folklore.

Magickal Uses: Carry some in your pocket to attract wealth, or put it in the cash register to attract customers.

Cautions

No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.

Basil oil should not be given to infants or children.

Share This Page

Back to Herbal Bytes