Basil (Ocimum sanctum)

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Common names: Basil

Taxonomic name: Ocimum basilicum

Family: Lamiaceae

Uses: Cleanser, detoxification, colds and flu, blood pressure issues

Area of origin: Central Africa, South East Asia

Warnings: It tastes too good!

Basil needs little introduction, especially as were just coming out of a long Summer where I’m sure it was paired with tomatoes in lots of kitchens.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a spicy, warm herb. As with many that share those characteristics, Basil is stimulating to our system. A little later we’ll look at its relaxing property too.

You may have noticed, if you’ve been with us for a while, that lots of herbs are cleaners. They cleanse and detoxify either the whole, or specific parts of our bodies.

Basil is no exception, and like many in the Mint family, works by the actions of an essential oil. Yes, Basil is one of the Lamiaceae family, which includes Mints, Oregano, Lavender and Rosemary.

Basil detoxifying through making us sweat (diaphoresis, if you want to be technical). This property alone can guide us to many of its uses.

It opens the pores in the skin and the lungs, allowing toxins to leave our body through sweat and breath. Basil also works deep in our body, detoxifying the liver and through this, the blood.

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Basil has the lipped flowers characteristic of Lamiaceae

Something like Basil is doubly good, it cleans deeply, then encourages paths of elimination.

Basil has been used historically for neutralizing the bad effects of long term Cannabis use and has been found to be equally good with long term alcohol use. More recently, Basil has been found to mobilize and remove heavy metals.

All jokes aside. Basil works in this manner by freeing chemicals, metals and medicinal drugs that are held or stored in fat cells. Remember how I mentioned earlier that Basil is good for our liver, well, the liver works on fat digestion and metabolism. Can you see the picture?

Basil can both stimulate and relax the nervous system. If we are too tense, Basil can relax us, if we’re too relaxed (is that possible?) Basil stimulate us. Herbalist Matthew Wood mentions that in the Middle East, Basil is used to go to sleep AND to make the user more alert upon waking.

This effect on the nervous system is why you’ll see in some books that Basil is good for lowering blood pressure. Unlike many of the herbs we have looked at, Basil doesn’t lower blood pressure through a diuretic action. It removes fluid through the skin.

Basil is also known as an antibacterial primarily through topical application, although it does have benefits for sufferers of bad breath.

There you go, another healer sitting in your garden, your pantry, or maybe even tonight’s dinner.