Basil, or known by its Latin name, Ocimum basilicum, is maybe the most “common” of herbs that grows all over the world. In fact, that may be why it is referred to as the “King” of herbs in its own right.
Photo right: My very own Basil plant in my garden.
Historically speaking, being so named the king of herbs came from St. Constantine along with his mother, St. Helen. They discovered the Holy Cross, and as the story goes, they also found basil growing there. The actual word “Basil” comes from out of the language from the Greeks.
Well known for being a major part of the flavor profile in Italian cuisine, basil is a necessity when cooking Italian.
Funny enough, basil is actually indigenous to India, as well as other tropical regions of Asia. Very popular and used widely in Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, as well as other cuisines, it seems to continue to be at the forefront of basil use worldwide, also considering there are such a wide variety of basil plants.
Touted “St. Joseph’s Wort”, basil should not to be confused with St. John’s Wort, which is used as a natural medication for depression in mild forms. It is not an anti-depressant, per se, but has a number of health benefits it can be used for, aside from the obvious culinary ones.
Ayurveda, which is the traditional medicinal system of India & Siddha medicine (Tamil system of medicine), has found its uses for Basil in treatments. Including the Siddha, basil’s uses are concentrated on treating pimples that form on the face. Basil is used as an additional treatment of stress, diabetes and asthma.
From the studies conducted on oil of basil, it is found that it has potent antioxidant, antimicrobial & antiviral properties, with some encouraging potential for use when treating cancer. This may be a welcomed option for patients as opposed to the use of the otherwise widely known, harsh treatments like chemotherapy & radiation.
Basil boasts a quite volatile oil, which is called `eugenol`, and it provides its user with anti-inflammatory properties. Eugenol, in actuality, blocks enzymes, which the body uses that causes swelling. Therefore, basil could be a very promising treatment for people with arthritis, which can be a debilitating disease for many people.
Essential oil of basil has been shown to have promising anti-fungal and insect repelling properties, aside from all of the other health benefits and culinary uses.
Basil seeds are edible, but be aware they will become gelatinous in liquids. They are used to garnish some beverages, as well as provide that unique flavor. However, do not overdo it when ingesting basil seeds. Too many seeds has been found to create potential harm to your brain when over-eating them.
I hope you enjoy this Herb Info on Cooking with Kimberly. Until next time…
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