Basil is very familiar to most people. The fresh and dried leaves are used in many kitchens as a culinary herb. Many cooks use basil on a regular basis in tomato dishes and of course, pesto. A few fresh leaves can really add flavor and freshness to any tomato dish. Beside its many uses in the kitchen, basil is very useful as a medicinal herb.
Basil tea makes a warming tonic that helps fight depression. Basil stimulates the adrenal cortex which regulates the stress response resulting in feeling of well being. Many people consider basil to be spiritually uplifting. It is useful for grounding a person that tends to be flighty or nervous. Basil can help improve memory and is good for jet lag.
Basil is antiseptic and soothes itching. Leaves can be rubbed directly onto insect bites. The juice also acts as an insect repellant.
Tinctures made from basil can be good for coughs and bronchitis due to its expectorant properties. Basil is especially good for lung conditions when combined with hyssop and elecampane. Hot basil tea can be inhaled to help a head cold and sipped to prevent chills.
Basil can be purchased as an essential oil in most health food stores or online. Basil essential oil is used to fight mental fatigue and nervous conditions. Breath in the scent straight from the bottle or put a few drops on a warm cloth. It is never taken internally and is always diluted with a carrier oil such as olive or almond oil before applying to the skin. Basil essential oil is used in aromatherapy and occasionally in massage, but can irritate sensitive skin so use with caution. In massage, basil stimulates blood flow and helps bring new vigor to tired, over-worked muscles. Basil essential oil is good for headache, allergies, hay fever, and asthma.
Basil has been used to treat everything from hiccups to diarrhea. Basil is used in the treatment of fevers, intestinal parasites, and skin infections -- particularly acne. Many herbalists gave basil tea to help patients recover from hysterectomy operations. An infusion of basil leaves, mixed with a little motherwort, was given immediately after childbirth to prevent retained placenta. Basil imitates natural estrogen and can be used to help regulate menstrual periods.
Basil is easy to grow from seeds. Basil is related to mint. A bushy annual, it does not need to be fertilized. Basil prefers full sun, but grows well in partial shade. It likes moderately rich soil that is kept slightly moist. Pinch the stem tips for fuller growth. Harvest before and during flowering.
1 gallon loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 to 1 cup fresh or slighted roasted pecans
1 small garlic bulb or 2 large cloves depending on taste
1/2 cup olive or pecan oil
Salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese to taste
Wash, dry, and finely chop basil - it will reduce to about 2 or 3 cups when finely chopped.
Stir in finely chopped pecans, chopped garlic, and olive or pecan oil - more oil may be added if desired.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.
Basil pesto is delicious served as a dip with Ritz crackers, tossed with pasta, or as a sauce for baked chicken. It is also great on pizza.
* Large amounts of basil should not be taken for extended periods. Basil remedies should never be used in pregnancy. Always consult your physician before using any herbal remedy.
"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... Janice Boling, herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer
* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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