Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a popular aromatic culinary herb that is used quite frequently in Italian and Southeast Asian cuisines. Sweet basil is typically used in Italian dishes while thai basil, lemon basil, or holy basil are used in the Southeast Asian dishes of Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Originally native to India and Africa, there are now 50 to 150 estimated species of basil. Basil has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years in regions of India and other parts of Asia.
The word basil comes from the Greek word meaning king. It is believed to have grown at the spot where the Holy Cross was discovered by St. Constantine and Helen. To this day, many cooks and authors believe that basil is the king of herbs.
Basil has a very unique and pungent smell and taste. It can be best described as having a subtle peppery and earthy taste with a slight hint of sweetness, like that of liquorice.
While basil grows best outdoors in direct sunlight and hot and dry weather, it can also be grown indoors if placed on a south facing window or by using a artificial lamp. Growing indoors makes it possible to enjoy fresh basil all year long, even if the weather outside is horrible.
When fully mature, a basil plant will usually be between one and four feet tall. The silky, green basil leaves will measure from one to four inches long and a half an inch to 3 inches wide.
1. Healing Power: The Basil plant has many medicinal properties. The leaves are a nerve tonic and also sharpen memory. They promote the removal of the catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tube. The leaves strengthen the stomach and induce copious perspiration. The seed of the plant are mucilaginous.
2. Fever & Common Cold: The leaves of basil are specific for many fevers. During the rainy season, when malaria and dengue fever are widely prevalent, tender leaves, boiled with tea, act as preventive against these diseases. In case of acute fevers, a decoction of the leaves boiled with powdered cardamom in half a litre of water and mixed with sugar and milk brings down the temperature. The juice of Basil leaves can be used to bring down fever. Extract of tulsi leaves in fresh water should be given every 2 to 3 hours. In between
one can keep giving sips of cold water. In children, it is every effective in bringing down the temperature.
3. Coughs: Basil is an important constituent of many Ayurvedic cough syrups and expectorants. It helps to mobilize mucus in bronchitis and asthma. Chewing Basil leaves relieves cold and flu.
4. Sore Throat: Water boiled with basil leaves can be taken as drink in case of sore throat. This water can also be used as a gargle.
5. Respiratory Disorder: The herb is useful in the treatment of respiratory system disorder. A decoction of the leaves, with honey and ginger is an effective remedy for bronchitis, asthma, influenza, cough and cold. A decoction of the leaves, cloves and common salt also gives immediate relief in case of influenza. They should be boiled in half a liter of water till only half the water is left and add then taken.
6. Kidney Stone: Basil has strengthening effect on the kidney. In case of renal stone the juice of basil leaves and honey, if taken regularly for 6 months it will expel them via the urinary tract.
7. Heart Disorder: Basil has a beneficial effect in cardiac disease and the weakness resulting from them. It reduces the level of blood cholesterol.
8. Children's Ailments: Common pediatric problems like cough cold, fever, diarrhea and vomiting respond favorably to the juice of basil leaves. If pustules of chicken pox delay their appearance, basil leaves taken with saffron will hasten them.
9. Stress: Basil leaves are regarded as an 'adaptogen' or anti-stress agent. Recent studies have shown that the leaves afford significant protection against stress. Even healthy persons can chew 12 leaves of basil, twice a day, to prevent stress. It purifies blood and helps prevent several common elements.
10. Mouth Infections: The leaves are quit effective for the ulcer and infections in the mouth. A few leaves chewed will cure these conditions.
11. Insect Bites: The herb is a prophylactic or preventive and curative for insect stings or bites. A teaspoonful of the juice of the leaves is taken and is repeated after a few hours. Fresh juice must also be applied to the affected parts. A paste of fresh roots is also effective in case of bites of insects and leeches.
12. Skin Disorders: Applied locally, basil juice is beneficial in the treatment of ringworm and other skin diseases. It has also been tried successfully by some naturopaths in the treatment of leucoderma.
13. Teeth Disorder: The herb is useful in teeth disorders. Its leaves, dried in the sun and powdered, can be used for brushing teeth. It can also be mixed with mustered oil to make a paste and used as toothpaste. This is very good for maintaining dental health, counteracting bad breath and for massaging the gums. It is also useful in pyorrhea and other teeth disorders.
14. Headaches: Basil makes a good medicine for headache. A decoction of the leaves can be given for this disorder.Pounded leaves mixed with sandalwood paste can also be applied on the forehead for getting relief from heat, headache, and for providing coolness in general.
15. Eye Disorders: Basil juice is an effective remedy for sore eyes and night-blindness, which is generally caused by deficiency of vitamin A. Two drops of black basil juice are put into the eyes daily at bedtime.
Special thanks to Almighty God for the Wisdom, discovery and Knowledge.