Basil, a native of India, is considered the “king of herbs”; Basileus is the Greek word for king and is still an offering to the gods today. It is generally used for indigestion, fever, cold, headaches, cramps, nausea, vomiting, or constipation. Many also use it for soothing itch of insect bites and as an anti-depressant.
An important fact to remember, if cooking for Arabic males, do not offer food with basil, they will be highly offended because in their country, women use it to relieve their menstrual cramps, so the men consider it embarrassing to ingest this herb in any way!
Chewing on a fresh sprig of basil is a good way to freshen your breath. To combat the nausea associated with chemotherapy and radiation; make a tea with one ounce of basil to a pint of water, simmer for 4 minutes, strain and add honey to taste.
Basil, like cloves, contains COX2 blocking Eugenol, a compound with significant anti-inflammatory abilities. Studies show that just ½ tsp of basil/day is as effective as many NSAID’s, aspirin or ibuprofen.
For heartburn and intestinal gas, make a basil tea adding peppermint or chamomile, research shows they actually relax intestinal muscles and relieve cramping. This slows digestion, which helps prevent intestinal gas.
At the University of Illinois researchers found that sweet basil has more than 30 cancer preventing substances.
Aromatherapy uses basil for restoring the vital spirit, to quicken the brain and awaken joy and courage! It will lift depression, relieve brain fatigue, and bring you clarity and strength.
In the late 1980’s Narenda Singh M.D. realized that a daily basil tea (from 10-12 leaves) was useful in preventing stress related disorders like stomach ulcers and colitis.
Basil can revitalize the skin and hair. It helps congested complexions and acne. You can use the steeped tea as a toner for the skin or as a rinse for the hair. In Africa, they used basil water for control of dandruff.
So even though I love the taste of basil in my food who would have known how many other ways basil can affect our health!
Herbs for Health and Healing by Kathi Keville
The Good Herb by Judith Bunn Hurley
Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal