Herb of the Week: Basil, I am what I am!

Posted on November 28, 2012. Filed under: Herb(s) of the Week, Kitchen Herbalism | Tags: |

I recently pressed out a batch of Basil Glycerite (from fresh Basil I grew myself in containers in my room’s window seat) that I had made a while back and it is AWESOME!

New Born Herbal medicine (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbals)

So to welcome this amazing brew to the world, I thought I’d talk a little bit about the ever amazing Basil – but since there are over a 150 varieties I’ll be focusing on what I grew the classic culinary, herbal Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum.)

The Basil I grow has always had a bit of an attitude.  Kind of like those old Popeye cartoons where he mutters under his breath and you know he’s swearing like a sailor.

Portrait of Basil pondering the world (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbals)

My Basil has been haranguing the Plantain (Plantago major) out in the front of the house.  (“Hey $%$#% Plantain get off my lawn…”)  but I can sympathize with it though because so many herbalists go all Manchurian Candidate about Plantain and using it for insect bites (“Plantain is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful plant I’ve ever known in my life…”), but they so neglect the fact that not only is Basil great for insect bites (just use the juice from the leaves) but it is also a pretty nifty insect repellent (just apply it externally to repel insects.) Can Plantain do that?  NOOOO.

And that’s just the start of the Basily fun:

  • Basil has nice antimicrobial actions including a particularly nice respiratory cleansing affinity.   Consider using a steam of the leaves (fresh or dried) or essential oil for helping with colds, flu and sinus issues where its volatile oils such as linalool and eugenol can work wonders.
  •  It is also a pleasing digestive aid helping with nausea, indigestion, gas and cramps.  As well as just generally stimulating and supporting digestion in pleasant way.  Either as a tea, tincture or amazing Glycerite!
  • Although not technically considered a nervine in herbalist’s general definition, the difference between it and one isn’t that great.  It’s considered to aid with nervous tension, insomnia (have some tea just before bed or heck anytime – I love Basil tea!) and anxiety.  It is as helpful in this way as a tea or as an essential oil.  Heck just shaking up the Basil plants releases such a powerfully uplifting smell by itself.
  • And it was traditionally used as a galactagogue (stimulating lactation in women.)

It’s cleansing, supporting, nurturing and more – yet so doesn’t get the respect it deserves.  Then when you consider that the ancient Greeks and Romans thought it grew best when being abused and mistreated!

No wonder it sometimes has a chip on its metaphorical shoulder.

So isn’t it about time to love Basil for its wonderful medicinal gifts too and not just treat it like a co-dependent to pesto? 🙂

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2 Responses to “Herb of the Week: Basil, I am what I am!”

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I’ve only ever used basil for cooking before (wouldn’t be without it in the kitchen) – but from now on it’s going to be basil leaves for insect bites and basil oil for colds!

Yup, I’ve always loved Basil in the kitchen as well, 🙂


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