Basil Uses and Benefits

Ocimum basilicum

Basil is one of the medicinal plants listed on Dr. Sebi’s Nutritional Guide (Food List) under “Spices & Seasonings”.

What is Basil?:
Basil is a fragrant herb belonging to the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is widely known for its aromatic leaves and is a key ingredient in many culinary dishes around the world.

Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum

Other Names:

  • Sweet basil
  • Genovese basil (variety)
  • Thai basil (varieties like Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora)

Habitat: Basil is native to tropical regions of Africa and Asia but is now cultivated in various climates worldwide. It thrives in warm, sunny conditions and well-drained soil.

Description:

  • Basil is an annual herb with square stems.
  • The leaves are usually green, elliptical, and have a strong, sweet aroma.
  • Basil plants produce small white or pink flowers, arranged in spikes.

Status: Basil is a widely cultivated herb and is not considered endangered. It is a common herb found in gardens and is easily grown in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Species of basil

List of Popular Species:

  1. Ocimum basilicum: Common or sweet basil.
  2. Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora: Thai basil.
  3. Ocimum basilicum ‘Genovese’: Genovese basil, a popular variety in Italian cuisine.

Wild Species: While primarily cultivated, wild varieties of basil can be found in the native regions of Africa and Asia.

However, basil (Ocimum spp.) is primarily a cultivated herb, and there isn’t an extensive list of distinct wild species. Basil plants can escape cultivation and grow in the wild, sometimes exhibiting variations from the cultivated varieties. The specific wild species can depend on the region and local environmental conditions. Here are a few examples:

  1. Ocimum americanum: Also known as American basil or “hoary” basil, this wild basil species is found in various parts of North and South America.
  2. Ocimum africanum: Found in parts of Africa, this wild basil species is adapted to specific climates and soil conditions on the continent.
  3. Ocimum basilicum var. minimum: This is a variety of sweet basil that is sometimes found growing wild. It is a smaller plant with tiny leaves and a potent aroma.
  4. Ocimum kilimandscharicum: Native to East Africa, this basil species is also known as camphor basil and is found in the wild in regions like Tanzania.

It’s important to note that wild basil varieties are often considered variations or subspecies of the cultivated basil (Ocimum basilicum). The distinction between wild and cultivated basil can sometimes be blurred due to the plant’s ability to self-seed and spread in natural environments.

Botanical classifications can also change, and new discoveries may alter our understanding of basil species. Always refer to the latest botanical resources for the most up-to-date information on plant classifications and wild species.

Ocimum Africanum
Ocimum africanum

Benefits of basil

Mineral Content: Basil contains various minerals, including:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

Medicinal Value:

  • Basil has been traditionally used for its potential medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
  • Some cultures use basil for its antibacterial and anti-viral properties.

Culinary Uses:

  • Basil is a key ingredient in Italian cuisine, especially in pesto sauce.
  • It is used in a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, stews, and as a topping for pizza.
  • Basil pairs well with tomatoes, making it a staple in many Mediterranean and Thai dishes.

Uses Across the World:

  • In Italian cuisine, basil is a fundamental ingredient in pesto, pasta sauces, and Caprese salads.
  • Thai basil is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly in Thai and Vietnamese dishes.

Research Information:

  • Research on basil has explored its potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Studies have also investigated basil’s antimicrobial effects.

Recipes:

  1. Classic Basil Pesto:
    • Ingredients: Fresh basil, walnuts, onion, ‘walnut cheese’, olive oil.
    • Instructions: Blend basil, walnuts, onion, and ‘walnut cheese’ in a food processor. Gradually add olive oil until smooth. Toss with pasta or use as a spread.

References:

 

  1. Simon, J. E., Chadwick, A. F., & Craker, L. E. (1984). Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate Zone. Archon Books.
  2. Keith Singletary. Basil: A Brief Summary of Potential Health Benefits: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324085682
  3. Basil: A natural source of antioxidants and neutraceuticals: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267031488

 

Author: sebifood

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