Also known as
Ocimum basilicum, Sweet Basil, Garden Basil, and Common Basil. Not to be confused with holy basil (tulsi) used in Ayurvedic medicine.
The basil plant is originally native to India, and is best known for the scent and flavor that it imparts to Italian cuisine. The varieties of basil are nearly endless, with different cultivars providing a slightly different product within the same species due to hybridization and growing conditions. Generally speaking, the herb is sweet, slightly minty and slightly peppery.
Basil grows best outdoors in a warm, sunny environment as a garden herb, and can also be potted and grown in a window with plenty of sun. Basil is sensitive to cold and will grow as an annual in regions that frost during the winter. Due to its environmental sensitivity, the herb should be planted in late spring or early summer after the risk of frosting has passed.
Basil has a unique aroma because of the many constituents of its essential oil. The oil contains 1,8-cineol, citral, eugenol, linalool, methyl chavicol, methyl cinnamate in relatively large quantities and bisabolene, camphor, cryophyllene, geraniol, and ocimene in smaller quantities influencing taste and action in the body.
Dried leaf in teas or essential oils for topical application.
The essential oil used topically. As a spice it can be liberally used in foods.
Basil is well known for its sweet aroma and the fresh, delicious flavor that it lends to food. Basil is traditionally used to spice up pasta, meat, soups and sauces. It is the key ingredient of pesto sauce, where it is mixed with hard cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil. As a flavoring agent, basil is best added at the end of cooking as the intense heat will quickly deteriorate its characteristic taste and aroma. In addition to its culinary uses, basil is used to add fragrance to perfumes, soaps, shampoos, and other body care products.
The German Commission E advised caution in the use of basil due to the content of estragole in its essential oil, a compound suspected to cause cancer. However, further testing indicated that an increase in cancer would only occur in persons who ate approximately 1,000 kilograms of basil daily, equating to over one ton of the herb. Nonetheless, the safety of the herb has not been established for pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children under six.
For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.