Ocimum basilicum, or more commonly known as basil, is the name of an herb in the family Lamiaceae that is used mainly for culinary purposes. It is also sometimes known as Saint Joseph’s Wort in some countries. Basil is native to New Guinea, China, India and Southeast Asia. Most varieties of the herb are annual plants. The name basil comes from the Greek word βασιλεύς, which means “king.” It was first domesticated in India and has been cultivated there for over 5,000 years.
Traditionally, most basil plants are green. However there are some hybrids such as the “Purple Delight” that actually have purple leaves. Basil can grow anywhere from 12-51 inches and has small white flowers that are arranged in a terminal spike. The leaves are silky, light green leaves that grow opposite of each other and can be anywhere from .4 inches to 2.36 inches broad and 1.2 to 4.3 inches long. There are anywhere from 50 to 150 species of basil known in existence.
This herb can be used in many different industries and products. Many common products it is used in are foods, medicinal purposes, skin care, soaping, hair care, bath bombs, massage oils, and many bath and body products. Ancient Greeks and ancient Egyptians believed that basil would open the gates of heaven for their loved ones that has passed on. In Europe, they place basil in the hands of their dead to ensure a safe journey. And in India, it is believed that placing basil in the mouths of the dying ensures that they will reach God.
Basil is very sensitive to cold weather and is a plant that is very hard to maintain. It is best grown when grown in hot and dry climates after the last frost is completely over. It thrives when planted in locations such as Australia, the southern United States, southern Europe and the northern part of New Zealand. Preferably the soil it is planted in should be clean, well drained, and moist. However, it needs to be grown in a sheltered place with limited sun exposure. It can easily be damaged by winds.
The cycle for growing basil plants usually takes about 3-4 months depending on the climate. After it has grown for about six weeks, the center shoot should be pinched off so as to avoid early flowering and prolong the life of the plant. The flowers signal the ending of the plants life, so to prolong it, it is best to snip them off so there is more time for the leaves to grow.
Some pests can effect the plant. Fungal diseases can kill the plants and they can also be damaged by mildew. Gray mold is capable of killing the plant and also causes it infections.
Basil Uses in Industries
One of the main uses for basil is for culinary purposes. It is commonly used fresh at the end of a recipe after a meal is cooked, since cooking it usually quickly destroys its flavor. Basil is a big ingredient in Italian cuisine, including being a main ingredient for pesto. Pesto is a green sauce made with oil and herbs. In a Vietnamese noodle soup named pho, Thai basil is a main condiment. In Taiwan it is also added to soups as well as eating it deep fried with deep fried chicken. In China, it is used fresh in many foods and soups. The flower buds of a basil plant are also edible and can be used in salads, however they have a more subtle flavor. The basil seed is edible as well. In Asia, it is soaked in water and used in many drinks and desserts such as sherbert and faluda. Basil tea can also be made using the unground seeds and fresh leaves. It has many medicinal purposes.
Bath and Body Products
Basil can be used in many different products and industries. It can be used for hair care, skin care, soaping, foods, medicinal purposes and many bath and body products. It contains vitamin A, and when used for soaping, it provides a wonderful aroma, great anti-acne properties and gentle exfoliation for the skin.
Many common products that include basil are creams, ointments, lotions, bath teas, bath bombs, massage oils, facial masks and tonics, shampoos and conditioners, scrubs, and natural herbal waters.
There are many skin care benefits to using basil. It is awesome for rejuvenating the skin and can be used to treat acne, exfoliate the skin, prevent black heads, and treat ringworm and many skin infections.
When used in shampoos and conditioners as an infusion, it will provide the hair with better luster. Basil also rejuvenates the hair follicles, strengthens the hair, and also prevents hair loss and gray hair.
There are medicinal and health purposes to using basil. It can be used to treat fevers, colds, sore throats, restlessness, headaches, mouth and throat infections, reducing the pain caused by chicken pox, small pox, or measles and also can be used to relieve wounds and cuts. Basil is a great stress reliever, it helps to sharpen the mind and also is a great relief for people suffering from frequent vomiting.
Basil leaves have anti-septic properties and are commonly used to treat cuts, wounds and even ulcers. They also are rich in healing oils and phytonutrients, and are a very effective treatment for dengue and malarial fevers.
For mothers that are nursing, basil tea is said to help promote more milk and it is also good to take right before or after birth to promote blood circulation.
Many eye problems can be treated with it as well. Since it is rich in vitamin A, basil leaves can help the eyes as a relaxer, and are also a treatment for night blindness and sore eyes. It also can help prevent glaucoma, degeneration of the eyes, and cataracts.
Basil juice can be used to help dispel kidney stones from the urinary tract.
The leaves can protect the heart in many ways such as controlling blood pressure, reducing blood glucose and cholesterol levels, and removing toxins from the blood.
There are theories that the juices of basil leaves are a cure for cancer.
Gaining excess weight can also be reduced with the leaves. They renew energy levels and help to form new blood cells.
There are many dental benefits to using basil as well. It helps to get rid of bad breath, prevent bacteria build up, and is a great massager for the gums.
Radiation damage may also be prevented from basil leaves. They contain antioxidants such as orientin, flavonoids, and vicenin that help to protect from cell aging and death.
Basil is said to have many magical uses as well. It is said to encourage peace and happiness and will bring the user love, money, and protection. It is also used to avoid clashes between people and if placed in cash registers it is said to attract customers. Supposedly, if basil is carried in pockets, it will bring that person wealth. It is also used in exorcisms, and house and marriage blessings. For lovers, it is said that basil will help soothe arguments and if sprinkled on the lovers bodies, it helps to encourage fidelity.
In central regions of Mexico, a basil plant is hung in shop windows, and the growth of the plant is supposed to show how much the business is cared for.
Nature’s Garden sells basil for external use only. We do not sell it as a food item. The information above talks about how great basil is for many industries, however we only sell it for external use. We provide this data for educational purposes only. Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using this product or any of this information for treatment purposes.
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