The common Basil a well-known herb, famous for its use in Italian cooking is also known for various other uses ranging from liquors, perfumes, cosmetics and yes medicines. This remarkable plant has superb detoxifying qualities as well as a mildly sedative effect and antibacterial properties.

Often referred to as sweet basil or Basil Ocimum basilicum is a tender herbaceous herb originally native to tropical Asia. Here in South Africa it is grown as a summer annual, small plants are readily available in fruit and veg stores, supermarkets, DIY outlets and Nursery centres.
Mostly grown for its culinary uses this favourite forms glossy, aromatic, bright green foliage and white blooms. They grow to between 20 and 60 cm tall and spread to around 40 cm, Basil is very sensitive to cold and is thus frost tender, grow it in hot dry conditions with good drainage and humus soil for best results.

Use Ocimum basilicum as an antimicrobial, it is also very high in minerals and vitamins, harvest the entire plant above ground prior to flower production soak in boiling water and steam the face.

Also try Lemon basil (Ocimum×citriodorum).

On the culinary map Basil or Ocimum basilicum is best known in Itallian cuisine however as mentioned it originates from tropical Asia and India resulting in Basil being a major role player in the cuisines of Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laus and Thaiwan. Depending on the cultivar Basil may taste somewhat like anise with a strong and pungent, often sweet smell.

Use fresh Basil leaves to make pesto or to add prominent flavour to salads, pizzas and Italian dishes, they are also a must in any tomato-based sauce or dish.

Some interesting advice

Avoid the use of this herb on pregnant woman and small children as the effects of mass consumption on humans remain untested however in rodents it takes a 100-1000 times (this is severely out of the norm) the normal dose to become a cancer risk.

Consuming the mature foliage will lead to reactions with the digestive and nerve system ultimately resulting in the relief and ease of stomach cramps, colic and indigestion.

Basil self-seeds readily is a fast grower and is extremely easy to propagate, grow them from tip cuttings in well drained sterile medium and treat with soft-wood rooting hormones. Basil can also be sown directly or in trays and spaced as they emerge.



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