The basil is a herbaceous annual culture plant, ramified from the ground, 20-60 cm tall with hairy stems, round-oval leaves and white or reddish flowers.
Culinary use: Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. It is generally added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavour. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of its flavour, and what little flavour remains tastes very different, with a weak coumarin flavour, like hay.
Part Used Medicinally: The whole herb, both fresh and dried, gathered in July.
Medicinal Action and Uses: Aromatic and carminative. Though generally employed in cooking as a flavouring, Basil has been occasionally used for mild nervous disorders and for the alleviation of wandering rheumatic pains- the dried leaves, in the form of snuff, are said to be a cure for nervous headaches.
Recently, there has been much research into the health benefits conferred by the essential oils found in basil. Scientific studies in vitro have established that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. In addition, basil has been shown to decrease the occurrence of platelet aggregation and experimental thrombus in mice. It is traditionally used for supplementary treatment of stress, asthma and diabetes in India. In Siddha medicine, it is used for treating pimples on the face, but noted that intake of the seeds in large quantities is harmful for the brain.
Traditional medicine uses basil as a remedy for chronic gastritis and stomach aches.
Nutrition facts: Basil is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol and sodium. Fresh Basil is also a good source of protein, vitamin E, Riboflavin and Niacin, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Potassium.
Basil tea: The infusion is prepared of 1-2 spoonfuls of basil leaves, shredded, boiled in 250 ml of water. The tea is left to infuse 2 minutes. Drink 2-3 cups a day. It is recommended to drink a cup after every meal. This tea treats distention and intestinal colics, gastric ulcer, anorexia, urinary infections, diarrhea.