As people may know plants, herbs and flowers are my big passion. A part of the garden and the green house behind our house is reserved for herbs. It is great fun and very satisfying to grow herbs. Specially when you have, like us, a green house so you can have certain herbs all through the year. This to great pleasure of Miranda, who uses many of the herbs that I grow in the kitchen. I wanted to tell something about a well known herb called Basil (or in Dutch “Basilicum”). As said, a well known herb and yet there is so much to know about this plant.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum), also called Saint-Joseph’s-wort, is a herb of the family Lamiaceae (mints) that is often used in the kitchen. The herb is also called the “King of Herbs” (Dutch: “Koningskruid”). The name “basil” comes from Greek βασιλικόν φυτόν (basilikón phutón), which means “royal/kingly plant”.
Basil is possibly native to India, and has been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years. It was thoroughly familiar to the Greek authors Theophrastus and Dioscorides.
Basil, in particular the species Ocimum Basil is an herb often used for cooking. It has a strong odour and flavour and is mainly used in the Italian cuisine and tomato dishes. Basil is used to make pesto.
But as Miranda always says: Use your fantasy and dare to try. You may discover wonderful combinations with a great taste. And if something really has a bad taste, it is a lesson learned and nothing more then that.
But talking about tomatoes, it is said that it is good to grow basil together with tomatoes. Basil would keep pests and diseases away from the tomatoes. In my experience this is correct.
Traditionally basil was used for skin problems, for colds and other infections, cough, headache, nausea and as an insect repellent, but also to calm the mind as well as improve mood.
Today, many of these applications are also scientifically explained and we know which components provide certain medicinal effects. See here the top 5 health benefits of basil:
- Basil is due to the high amount of eugenol an excellent anti-inflammatory and suitable to kill bacteria and to expel insects.
- Good for the heart-and-vascular system because of the high content of carotenoids and antioxidants which protect the cells against the damage of free radicals. Furthermore, the large amount of magnesium in basil it stimulates a good blood flow and healthy veins.
- The antioxidants in the form of flavonoids and carotenoids in basil protect the body against certain forms of cancer.
- Several essential oils in basil are effective in the treatment of a dry skin, acne and psoriasis.
- The tannins present in basil have a germicidal and wound healing effect on mouth, nose, and stomach, intestinal mucosa. Basil is therefore also ideal for use in all kinds of digestive disorders and inflammations in the gastrointestinal tract.
But whatever the positive effects of Basil and how a nice plant it is to grow, I am afraid that the main use here in our house will be food :-)
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