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Basil



    Scientific Names

    Culinary Basil
    Culinary Basil
    Holy Basil: Tulsi
    Holy Basil: Tulsi
    • Ocimum bacilicum L.
    • Lamiaceae
    • Mint family

    Common Names

    ivyCommon basil
    ivyGarden basil
    ivyHoly basil
    ivyLuole (Chinese name)
    ivySt. Josephwort
    ivySweet basil
    ivyTulsi (Sanskrit name)
    ivyArjaka in ancient Sanskrit
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    Parts Usually Used

    The herb
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    Basil is an annual plant; its thin, branching root produces bushy stems growing from 1-2 feet high and bearing opposite, ovate, entire or toothed leaves which are often purplish-hued. The two-lipped flowers, varying in color from white to red, sometimes with a tinge of purple, grow in racemes from June to September. The plant is very aromatic. Tends to favor sunny banks.

    Other varieties: Dwarf Spicy Globe, Dwarf Bush Basil, Lettuce-leaf basil (O. basilicum crispum), Dark Opal, Purple Ruffles, Citriodorum, Fino Verde, O. basilicum miminum, O. sanctum, O. kill-mandscharicum, O. gratissimum, etc.
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    Where Found

    Found wild in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world; elsewhere it is cultivated as a kitchen herb.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Antispasmodic, antidepressant, antiseptic, stimulant, tonic, febrifuge, diaphoretic, nervine, antibacterial, expectorant, appetizer, carminative, galactagogue, stomachic
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    Biochemical Information

    Essential oil, estragol with linalon, lineol, tannin, and camphor.
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    From its native India, basil was introduced into Europe in ancient times. Views and traditions associated with the herb have been mixed. Some cultures associated basil with hatred and misfortune; others regarded it as a love token. Dioscorides said that it should never be taken internally, while Pliny recommended smelling it in vinegar for fainting fits. In Ayurvedic medicine, basil is known as tulsi and the juice is widely used. In India, basil is perhaps the most sacred plant, next to the lotus.

    The scent of basil, they say, is conducive to meditation, and the plant is often used in magic. Also a popular culinary herb.

    In China this herb is known as Luole.

    Haitian merchants often sprinkle their stores with a composition made of this fragrant herb soaked in water. According to creed this chases bad luck and attracts buyers. The herb is much used as a love charm in voo-doo practice.
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    Uses

    Basil's usefulness is generally associated with the stomach and its related organs. It can be used for stomach cramps, gastric catarrh, vomiting, intestinal catarrh, constipation, depression, menopause, and enteritis. As an antispasmodic, it has sometimes been used for whooping cough. Basil has also been recommended for headache. It increases the appetite, tends to increase the flow of milk, improves blood circulation, enhances the digestion, good for coughs, relieves gas pains, and is an aid for indigestion. Treats fevers (tea made with basil and peppercorns reduces fever), colds, flu, coughs, sinusitis, stomach cramps. The leaves are good for rubbing on insect bites. Externally, it is used to soothe bloodshot eyes and relieve itching from hives.

    In ancient Egypt basil served as a medicine for snakebites, scorpion stings and eye troubles. The fresh leaf juice is used externally to treat fungal infections on the skin. The crushed leaves were applied to painful parts in cases of rheumatism. Pliny recommended basil tea as a remedy for nerves, headaches and fainting spells.

    The Greeks used basil not only to prepare aromatic baths to strengthen the nerves, but also for flavoring must (the juice pressed from grapes before fermenting), wine and liqueurs.

    Basil is used in northern Germany to season the famous Hamburg eel soup and in the preparation of gherkins (pickled cucumbers).

    In Italy, particularly in the south, it is found in practically every garden and widely used for seasoning.

    Basil will quell the most violent vomiting and nausea. Particularly good at arresting morning sickness and travel sickness.

    A sprig of basil in the wardrobe will keep moths and other insects at bay. Basil is a good companion to tomatoes; dislikes rue intensely. Improves growth and flavor. Repels flies and mosquitoes.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    Harvest before flowering.

    Infusion: steep 1 tsp. dried herb in 1/2 cup water. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups a day, a mouthful at a time. Can be sweetened with honey if taken for a cough.
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    How Sold

    Tea, dried leaf, extracts
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    Warning

    Do not use the essential oil externally or internally during pregnancy.
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    Resource Links

    LiveStrong: Uses of Tulsi Plants Leaves

    LiveStrong.com: Medicinal Use of Tulsi

    LiveStrong.com: Importance of the Medicinal Plant Tulsi

    LiveStrong.com: Holy Basil Safety

    LiveStrong.com: What Are the Benefits of the Tulsi Plant?

    Organic India: Tulsi

    Holy-Basil.com

    Ayurvedic Cure: Holy Basil--Tulsi

    Drugs.com: Holy Basil

    PubMed.gov: Antifungal activities of Ocimum sanctum essential oil and its lead molecules.

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    Bibliography

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

    Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

    Buy It! Earl Mindell's Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

    Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature's Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

    Buy It! Country Home Book of Herbs, Meredith Books, Editorial Dept. RW240, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023, copyright 1994

    Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

    Buy It! Holy Basil Tulsi a Herb, by Yash Rai; Navneet (2007)

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