What is Basil | Benefits of Basil | Ocimum Basilicum | Uses of Basil

Ocimum basilicum or Basil is a medicinal herb. Nature has provided us a number of useful herbs and Basil herbs are popularly known for the treatment of various diseases. Benefits of Basil include its astringent qualities and as a useful cold remedy. Basil has numerous medicinal properties and it is an important ingredient of most ayurvedic preparartions.


Basil, Ocimum basilicum, Benefits of Basil, Basil herbs, What is Basil, Uses of Basil

Ocimum basilicum Lamiaceae or Labiatae.


Although it is native to southern Asia, basil has long been grown in Europe as a culinary and medicinal herb. Its common name comes from the Greek word 'basilikon', which means royal, perhaps because it was prized as a king among herbs. Basil is an annual plant, growing to a height of about 40cm. Its square stems and soft leaves are hairy and aromatic. Its flowers are white, crimson or multicoloured and form whorls on the plant's flower spike.


Parts used

  • Leaves and flower heads
  • The leafy, flowering stems are harvested when the flowers first appear in summer right through to autumn.
  • The leaves and fJowerheads are then dried and blanched for use in infusions or decoctions.
  • Alcoholic extracts taken from fresh flower heads are an ingredient in ointments used to heal wounds.

Constituents

Basil contains an essential oil (up to 7ml a kg), whose major chemical constituents differ according to where the plant has been cultivated.


The essential oil of the variety grown on the islands of the Indian Ocean has an estragole content of 65-85 per cent. The variety that is cultivated in southern Europe and Egypt produces an essential oil whose main component is linalool.Basil also contains tannins.


Medicinal uses

Basil is known above all for its capacity to relieve spasms, especially stomach spasms. The leaves help digestion and improve the appetite. They are also used to treat flatulence and stomach bloating.Externally, the plant's astringent qualities make it a useful cold remedy: in a gargle it relieves sore throats and as an inhalation it helps to clear the sinuses and air passages. As an ointment it can help to heal wound and cut often combined with mint and caraway.


The essential oil combats worms and germs. Indian clinical trials published in 1985 have demonstrated its antibacterial effects in acne sufferers.


CAUTIONS

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be avoid medicinal doses of basil.
  • Basil should not be administered bies or young children.
  • Do not take medicinal doses of for long, unbroken periods.

IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR

PREPARATION AND DOSAGE

For external use


TO TREAT indigestion, loss of appetite, flatulence, bloating.


INFUSION Put 4-6g of dried leaves into 250ml of boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse for 10 minutes and strain. Drink 1 cup without sugar a day.


In cases of chronic bloating, drink 2-5 cups a day between meals. Stop the treatment after a week and then re-start it a week later.


TO TREAT inflamed throats DECOCTION Boil 2 dessertspoons of dried leaves in 250ml of water in a covered pan for 10.15 minutes. Strain and leave to cool. Use the liquid as a gargle two or three times a day.


For external use

TO TREAT wounds, cuts OINTMENT Apply to affected area two or three times a day.


Cultivation

Basil should be grown in rich , light soil that is well drained. It is also suited to dry soil. It needs a warm, sunny position in the garden, but can also be grown in a pot on a sunny kitchen windowsill.



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