Botanical: Ocimum basilicum
Family: Labiatae/Lamiaceae (mint)
Other common names: Common Basil, St. Josephwort, Sweet Basil, Garden Basil, Tulsi
"The smell of Basil is fit for a king's house."
Apothecary and Herbalist (1567-1650)
Indigestion? Take Basil to calm nausea, while relieving stomach cramps, flatulence, constipation and other gastric problems. Highly aromatic Basil has also been recommended as a natural remedy for headache and whooping cough and may even help to promote a youthful state of physical and mental health.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Basil is an aromatic annual, native to tropical Asia and Africa and introduced into Europe in ancient times. The herb grows to a height of two to three feet and is now widely cultivated not only for its medicinal properties, but also for its culinary value as a flavoring agent. The high esteem in which this herb is held may be derived from its word origins. Basil's English name and botanical specific may come from the Greek, basilikon, meaning king, or the Latin basilicus, meaning royal. The Roman, Pliny, described its now-well-known benefits as a digestive that was effective in relieving flatulence and stomach cramps. Its properties had an almost spiritual reputation, as some cultures associated it with misfortune, while others regarded it as a love token or a powerful protector. In ancient Egypt, the plant was used as an embalming herb, and it has been said that Basil was strewn in the tomb of Christ. In the Caribbean and parts of Mexico, Basil was used to return a lover's roving eye and to attract money. In India, Basil (Tulsi) is considered a sacred herb (Holy Basil) and an extract of Ocimum sanctum has long been used in the ancient system of Ayurvedic medicine, practiced in India and other parts of Asia as a rejuvenation drug, to promote a youthful state of physical and mental health. It was held in such high esteem that it was used in courts to swear upon, and next to the Lotus, it was considered one of the most sacred plants. Its "divine" essence is actually a disinfectant, and because it is used in almost every Hindu house, it is believed to protect the family. In Ayurvedic medicine, Basil is also widely used for snakebites and as a general tonic for chills, coughs, skin problems and earaches. Some of its chemical components include essential oils (including estragol, eugenol, lineol, linalol), tannins, caffeic acid, vitamin C and beta-carotene.
Delicious to eat, Basil is an effective remedy for a variety of digestive and gastric disorders. It has been used as a carminative to relieve flatulence. It is also thought to ease nausea, stomach and intestinal cramps and to help stop vomiting.
Basil is used to promote normal bowel function and will help to relieve constipation, while easing the "griping" pains associated with laxatives (painful grumbling in the intestinal tract).
As an antispasmodic, Basil has sometimes been used for whooping cough. It is considered an expectorant that helps to loosen phlegm, ease dry coughs and bronchitis, and is also used to relieve catarrh, the inflammation of mucous membranes.
Basil has been recommended for the relief of headache.
As an aromatic herb, Basil is considered a fine appetizer, and as a mild stimulant, it has also been used very effectively in cases of complete exhaustion. Its essential oil helps to allay mental fatigue and is said to be helpful as an antidepressant.
Basil is used as an herbal antiseptic. Its antibacterial properties have been utilized to inhibit organisms that cause dysentery.
Externally, Basil was applied as a topical antiseptic to relieve fungal infections, ringworm and acne, and as a poultice to draw the poisons from snakebites and insect stings. The essential oil of Basil may be added to massage oils for sore muscles. Basil has also been used as a gargle or mouthwash for thrush, as a bath herb for increased energy and as an eyewash for tired eyes.
Nursing women may benefit from this gentle tonic that helps expel gas in the infant and increase lactation in the mother.
Basil may protect against the harmful effects of ageing, according to research presented at the 2008 British Pharmaceutical Conference. In the first formal study of the herb, pharmacy researchers found that an extract of Holy Basil was effective at actively searching for and eliminating harmful molecules and protecting against damage caused by some free radicals in key organs such as the heart, liver and brain. The study was said to validate the traditional use of herb as a youth-promoting substance in the Ayurvedic (ancient Indian) system of medicine.
Traditional herbalists claim that Basil helps bring on suppressed menses.
Pregnant women should use Basil Herbal Supplement with caution.