BASIL (Ocimum basilicum)
Other names: Sweet Basil
The common name ‘Basil’ is an abbreviation of ‘basilikon phuton’, which is Greek for ‘kingly herb’. To the Romans, Basil was a herb of ‘fertility’. In India, Basil has always been revered as a plant of great sanctity and was known as the sacred herb ‘tulasi’ and is dedicated to the gods Vishnu, Krishna and Siva, and is associated with ‘love’. Basil also symbolizes ‘poverty’ and Astrologers ruled that it was an herb of Mars, under the influence of Scorpio.
Basil has been used in folk medicine since ancient times and both the Greeks and Romans chewed Basil leaves as a tranquilizer and to calm the digestive system. It was also used as an expectorant and as a laxative.
Basil is high in essential oils, comprising mainly of estragol. It also contains thymol, tannins and basil camphor. Basil is an anti-spasmodic, galactagogue, stomachic, carminative and a mind sedative.
Basil may be employed in a wide range of simple gastro-intestinal complaints, particularly stomach cramps and vomiting. Its weak sedative action may be used in the treatment of nervous headache and/or anxiety. A tea made out of basil is a useful remedy for travel sickness.
In 16th Century Europe, an infusion of Basil was a popular treatment for catarrh, and to ease inflamed mucus membranes and to alleviate migraine headaches. Some medics believed that Basil was good for uplifting the spirits and for clearing the mind. In medieval times, basil was used as a general room freshener and was a popular strewing herb to keep insects away. It was also made into scented water for bathing.
The Japanese used Basil toea to treat the symptoms of the common cold, and in India a decoction of Basil was used to ease troublesome coughs. In ancient times Basil was used as a household cure for insect bites and stings.
Basil can be useful to ease motion sickness by simply sipping a cold infusion of Basil leaves.
A few drops of Basil essential oil in bath water has a refreshing and revitalising effect.
A hot infusion of Basil leaves at night before going to sleep is said to prevent a cold from developing.
As a toning muscle rub, place some Basil leaves, coarse sea salt and Olive oil into a jar and seal. After a few weeks strain off the oil and use it as a muscle rub.
Basil is associated with the Tarot card, the Two of Wands.
Basil is a calmative, a diaphoretic and an inflammatory. Basil is called the ‘Royal Herb’ for Italian cooking, and can be taken as a tea for stomach upsets, for gas, colds, influenza and fevers