Basil - Discover The King of Herbs
The common names of Basil (Ocimum basilicum) are Common Basil, Sweet Basil, Basilic Grand, Basil Grand Vert, St. Joseph Wort, Indian Basil, Sacred Basil, and Basilic Saint. The family name of the plant is Lamiaceae.
The word basil was derived from the Greek word “basileus”, meaning "king", many cookery authors consider this plant as the “king of herbs".
Basil is a plant native to India that was spread outwards to Europe and the West during the 16th century. This plant is frequently used in Mediterranean and Indochinese cuisine, and its peppery taste combines excellently when used with tomato.
The ancient Greeks, as well as the ancient Egyptians, believed that basil could open heaven’s gates for a person passing on. In Europe, basil was placed in a dead person’s hand to assure a safe journey to the other world. In India, basil is placed in the dead’s mouth to ensure that they reach God.
Basil is cultivated in all tropical and subtropical countries, and is native to India, Indonesia, and South Asia. In temperate countries, it grows in gardens and sunny places with well-drained, neutral soil, it also grows in low bushes, in plant pots, and on sunny facing windowsills.
Basil grows between 0.3-1.10 m tall, has light green, silky leaves, as well as small purple, white, or pink flowers.
The best months to gather basil flowers are from July until August, and the best time to gather basil leaves is shortly before the summer season.
Medicinal Use of Basil
- Basil has antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, immune-modulating, tonic, antidepressant, carminative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and metabolic enhancing properties.
- Basil helps to treat lung and heart problems, digestive disorders, bronchitis, mental fog, colds, headaches, stress, anxiety, nervous system ailments, asthma, allergies, and seasonal hay fever symptoms.
- This plant is excellent for treating kidney disorders, kidney stones, loss of appetite, blood circulation, intestinal gas, poisoning, stomach spasms, diabetes, stomach disorders, persistent vomiting, and heart related diseases.
- Recent studies have shown that basil protects the brain from several degenerative diseases, as well as insomnia, and also increases mental clarity.
- Basil is beneficial for treating earaches, viral hepatitis, malaria, tuberculosis, skin disorders, ringworm, wounds, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis.
- Fresh basil leaves, when rubbed on certain parts of the skin, can reduce itching caused by insect bites that accelerate wound healing.
- The fresh basil root and the juice of its leaves can be used as a pulp-compress when applied directly to the skin. It is very helpful in treating insect bites, snake and scorpion bites, as well as leech bites.
Side Effects and Recommendations of Basil
Daily usage of basil tea can cause vertigo, lethargy, and dizziness.
Avoid excessive intake of basil seeds because they can cause damage to the body and the brain.
Basil should be avoided by people taking drugs for low blood sugar or blood thinning. Basil should also be avoided by those who are expecting any surgery within the next two weeks.
Basil tea should be avoided by pregnant women, nursing mothers, or those who are trying to get pregnant; except when this plant is used in small amounts in food.
How To Use Basil
Infusion: Pour boiling water into a cup with one teaspoon of basil leaves. Leave the mixture to sit for 3-5 minutes, strain, and then drink up to 3 cups per day.
Decoction: Add a handful of fresh basil leaves in half a liter of water. Cover the mixture and boil for 6-8 minutes. Leave to cool and drink 1-2 times per day.
Fresh Basil Leaves: Chop 2-3 fresh leaves in a salad, in soup, in sauces, on sandwiches, or in any other dishes that you choose.
Pulp-Compresses: Mash fresh basil leaves, flowers, and its root on a wooden board or mortar, then apply this pulp to the ailing skin area several times per day.
The Christian tradition considered basil to be the plant that grew to the point that was the Holy Cross. By its smell, the priests discovered the Holy Cross, and since then, the church has used basil in sanctification.
Start picking basil leaves after the first month of its life. Store them in a dry, well-ventilated area until they dry out. Then gather and close the leaves into a bag or jar in your kitchen.
You can also cut small branches of basil, enclose them tightly in a bag or jar, and freeze them. Another way to freeze basil is to chop its leaves in a blender, adding a little water, and then put the mixture into ice cube trays.
That way, whenever you want to use basil in your cooking, remove an ice cube, and add it to the soup, mashed potatoes, or whatever dish you wish.
I wish for you to be always healthy.