Basil is an important herb known the world over more for its culinary uses but the herb offers a plethora of medical benefits. Basil has many health benefits that cover a wide spectrum of uses. Known to have originated in India, its widely found in India, Pakistan and Thailand.
Basil makes a great kitchen plant, as its uses are two-fold, for cooking as well as to cure a variety of ailments. An attractive plant, it looks and works well in a vegetable patch, herb or flower garden. A versatile herb, basil is used extensively in Thai, Italian and Vietnamese cuisine for its warm, gentle and unique flavor and fragrance. They taste and smell best when itâ€™s freshly cut and used immediately. Tear the leaf into pieces with your hand instead of chopping as this helps retain the flavor longer.
Basil does not retain its flavor well when dried or frozen; hence use it as soon as you pluck it from the plant. Medically it is useful to provide relief to sore gums, swish out the mouth often with strong basil tea. A basil leaf tucked into the mouth over the ulcer and kept there eases the pain. Basil leaf has many uses in aromatherapy. It is refreshing when used in a bath.
A potpourri of dried basil leaves and flowers can be used to create a fragrant atmosphere in the house or office. It is a natural pesticide, burn sprigs of basil to drive away mosquitoes. A potted basil plant in the kitchen windowsill will deter flies. Basil has been used as a tonic to aid digestion, steep in water or boil in water while preparing tea. Basil oil is known to relieve mental fatigue; it is widely used in aromatherapy.
Types of Basil
Bush Basil Also known as Sweet or Common Basil, it is native to the tropical countries such as India and Africa. Basil has significant religious importance in India and is an essential part of many religious rituals. Lemon Basil Bushy in appearance and grows to about two feet tall, it has a strong lemony fragrance.
Camphor Basil an annual shrub, it grows to about 5 feet in height. The leaves have a camphor-scented fragrance and can be used to protect woolens. Camphor basil can be used in tea to combat stomachaches. Tree Basil With fuzzy, lime-green leaves, tree basil is an excellent remedy for colds, and fevers.
Its thymol content makes it useful to treat wounds, relieve sore throats and even conjunctivitis. Holy Basil, an annual shrub with spicy clove-like scented leaves reaches the two feet in height. It is the sacred basil of the Hindus, who use it both for cooking and medicines.
Traditional medical uses of Basil
Apart from being a general tonic and vitalizer, basil has since ages been employed in hundreds of different formulations for the treatment of a range of ailments. Some of which are mouth and throat disorders, lungs, heart, blood, liver, kidney and the digestive, metabolic, reproductive and nervous systems. It has been frequently used to treat coughs, colds, flu, head and earaches, rheumatism and arthritis, malaria, fever, allergies and various skin diseases.
It was used in reducing the toxicity of various poisons, including insect and reptile bites, to expel intestinal parasites, repel insects and purify the air. Modern research on this wonder herb has revealed many of its less known qualities. Basil protects against and reduces stress; enhance stamina and endurance. It helps increase the body’s efficient use of oxygen; boost the immune system; reduce inflammation; protect against radiation damage, stems rapid ageing, supports the heart, lungs and liver; has antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties; enhances the efficacy of many other therapeutic treatments; and provides a rich supply of antioxidants and other nutrients.
Summarizing the benefits of basil, it has been found that it is a premier adaptogen, helping the body and mind adapt and cope with a wide range of physical, emotional, chemical and infectious stresses and trauma. It helps restore disturbed physiological and psychological functions to a normal healthy state. These general vitality enhancing properties, coupled with the therapeutic actions make Basil the wonder herb that it really is.