Basil – Ocimum basilicum Family: Lamiaceae Part used: aerial parts Ocimum basilicum L. is a half-hardy annual or short-lived perennial, which is native to India and Asia and cultivated worldwide. It is very variable in morphology. Erect, branching, green stems (to 60 cm) support opposite, soft, bright-green oval leaves, which are slightly crumpled-looking. Whorls (usually six flowers) of small, white, lipped, tubular flowers are borne in terminal racemes. The fruit contains four small smooth black seeds. It is propagated from seed. Quality Many cultivars and varieties are used and some are cultivated, especially for the manufacture of pesto. Simon et al (1999) compare the growth habit and constituents of 42 forms cultivated in the USA, and note that the cultivars of var. purpurescens contain a substantial concentration of anthocyanins. Crosses can occur between any Ocimum basilicum varieties, cultivars and related species such as Ocimum minimum L. There is substantial variation in composition of the volatile oil and little correlation has been found between phenotype and chemotype or genotype and chemotype. Schnaubelt (1999) uses basil as an example of the broad range of healing qualities in aromatic oils, Read more [...]
Archive for category Basil'
What actually is the opinion of Dioscorides? His recommendations of the commonly known plant are mainly external: the juice for dimness of sight and rheums of the eyes; the plant or its seed as an agent to provoke sneezing (the eyes must be kept shut! Dalechamps thinks they have to be pressed); as an oil, warming and sharp, applied to the vulva as an emmenogogue and abortifacient and to treat constriction; finally for bites of the sea dragon and for scorpion stings. He relates how Africans, presumably living or travelling in areas populated by many scorpions, eat the herb to remain without pain if they get stung. The indication that, applied with barley, oil of roses and vinegar, it helps inflammations may seemingly be taken to refer to conditions of the lungs – Bock, for instance, recommends it for breathing difficulties and old coughs, by clearing thick and viscid humours. There are, however, internal uses recorded too in Dioscorides’ work: the seed taken in drink corrects an excess of black bile, difficulty in urination through a diuretic action and flatulence. Basil will encourage the production of breast milk and helps to soften the stools for easier passing, an effect perhaps linked with the idea that it Read more [...]
Looking for references to basil in more current texts, the herbals which do not mention it are far greater in number than those which do. Bairacli Levy (1966) is fascinated by the herb and recommends it for culinary use, as an insecticide and as a powerful tonic stimulant and nerve remedy. It is advised for nausea, severe vomiting and indigestion, as well as topically for snake and spider bites and scorpion stings. Schauenberg & Paris (1977) list the infusion of the entire dried plant as a gastric antispasmodic, carminative and galactogogue. Ody (1993) has a more extensive monograph, listing the actions of basil as antidepressant, antiseptic and tonic, stimulating the adrenal cortex and preventing vomiting, while acting as a carminative, febrifuge and expectorant. She proposes several combinations: as a tincture with wood betony and skullcap for nervous conditions, or with elecampane Inula helenium and hyssop Hyssopus officinalis for coughs and bronchitis; as a juice mixed with honey in a syrup for coughs, or the juice in a decoction of cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum and cloves Syzygium aromaticum for chills. Topically, it can be mixed with honey for ringworm and itching skin or the fresh herb can be rubbed on Read more [...]