Basil is one of those herbs that almost everyone is familiar with, especially chefs! You've probably used basil when cooking and preparing fresh salads, but did you know that it also has medicinal properties? Basil is a natural anti-inflammatory, has anti-bacterial properties and is very high in antioxidants. It can be used to soothe the stomach, calm a cough or take the sting out of a bug bite. See how much more it does then just taste good? The best part is, most of us have fresh basil growing in our herb gardens or on our window sills. We're growing our own medicine. How convenient is that?
The oils in basil are what make it such a helpful herb but unfortunately they are quite delicate and become weakened with drying. For this reason I try to use fresh basil whenever possible.
1) Basil is a member of the mint family so it should come as no surprise that it's often used to settle the stomach. The easiest way to use it is in tea. Add 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil to boiling water and steep for about 5 minutes then strain. Sweeten with raw honey to taste and sip slowly to help with digestive issues. This can also soothe a cough.
2) To soothe a sore throat you can brew a basil tea in the same way but skip the honey and let the tea cool then use it as a gargle.
3) To soothe a headache add about 5 basil leaves to boiling water and continue to boil for a few minutes then cool. Sip slowly. Basil works on headaches because of it's muscle relaxing qualities so this works best on tension headaches.
4) Boil water and add a few chopped basil leaves. Remove from heat and breath the steam in to help with congestion. (don't get close enough to get a steam burn!) May also help with headaches.
5) Some migraine sufferers have gotten relief by chewing a basil leaf at the onset of a migraine.
6) Fresh Basil can be crushed and applied to a bug bite or sting to draw out the poisons and stop the itching. I've read that rubbing crushed Basil on a wart daily will help remove it. I haven't tried it, but it couldn't hurt.
7) Aromatherapy: basil is a very uplifting scent and it has the same stimulating properties as mint. Helps concentration and improves mood.
As you can see basil can really come in handy on the homestead. Unfortunately, for all these wonderful properties basil has there is one notable blemish on it's history. There were some physicians in the 1500's that believed that smelling too much basil would cause scorpions to breed in your brain. Of course that's not possible, but if ever somebody ever gives you a basil plant.....they might not have the best of intentions.
I am not a Dr nor do I give medical advice. If you have an ailment please see your Dr and do your own research before taking the word of some random farm lady on the inter-webs. I write about what I've learned and how I do things. These things may not work for you, but then again they may. Again.....research, Dr...feel better soon!