Following a comment on the blog post last week about Parsley, about resurrecting a window box of herbs, (Thank you hthrb) I began to think about what other herbs you could grow at home, and what you could do with them. Is it possible to have a home grown medicine cabinet, looking pretty and green on your kitchen windowsill? I have done some research, and here is the first of a mini-series of blog posts about some common herbs.
The first is Basil. I love basil – the smell, the taste, it’s versatility. I don’t like how tasty the slugs find it in the garden (mine never survives if I plant it outside) but I love using it in the kitchen and particularly in any Italian, Indian and Asian dishes. It is relatively simple to grow but it needs quite rich soil and lots of heat to get that lovely rich green colour which makes it such a treat to use in cooking. It is also called St Joseph’s Wort, and has carminative properties, so it is great for treating gassy and flatulent intestines.
Apparently Basil is a herb native to tropical Asia. It was introduced to Europe and the Americas in the sixteenth century. It is a hugely versatile plant and you can use all the foliage, branches, leaves and flowering tops for your remedies and cooking. The essential oil is incredibly useful. It can awaken the mind and has been attributed to clarity of thought, steadying the nerves and bringing mental acuity to the fore. I am thinking this might be useful if you are revising for exams. Have a plant on your desk, smell it while you are revising and then have a big of sniff of some of the oil before you go into the exam room. It may help to being back the knowledge you tried to cram in the old brain while revising. But do not over use it or eat it to excess because if you have too much of it it can have “a stupefying effect”. Exams have that ability all by themselves, they do not need help from Basil!
Basil is known to have anticatarrhal and decongestant effects making it useful in treatment of sinus congestion. It is also known to bring down fevers and due to its anti-dysmenorrhea abilities, it is useful for treating slow and patchy menstruation. Eating large amounts of it while pregnant is not suggested, but if you suffer with PMS it can help as an iron tonic.
Basil can also be used as a tonic for nervous and stress related headaches, migraines and allergies. If you have had a heavy celebratory weekend, Basil helps in detoxifying the liver and also can help minimise uric acid in the blood so can assist with gout. Basil is antibacterial so it is good for acne treatment and some of the other chemical components have been used to help arthritis.
I don’t know about you, but I shall be looking at the humble basil plant a bit differently from now on!