Sunday, September 2, 2012

Native Plant Medicine: Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Native Plant Medicine: Basil ( Ocimum basilicum )

An elder was quoted as saying upon being asked what the medicine of the West defined:
"Everything that is going on inside the body that cannot be seen with the eye, but causes the body to be ill or act strange, both physically and spiritually."
The genus specified ( Ocimum basilicum ), was used by the Cherokee and said to be introduced by the white settlers. According to G. T. Garrett, in his book, The Cherokee Herbal: Native Plant Medicine from the Four Directions," the following uses were mentioned:
"...Treating gas pains and nausea and to reduce fevers; it was used with ( Cinnanomum zeylanicum ) for cooking meats and fishes. Basil was mixed with peppercorns as a remedy to reduce fevers. The Cherokee in Kentucky and West Virginia similarly included basil in an old formula for reducing fevers and as a carminative to substance to relieve gas from eating beans." [A wild basil (Clinopodium vulgaris) is mentioned from European origins.]
Wikipedia skipped the medicinal properties for this genus strangely, instead opting for the culinary terminology, as basil is widely used today as a hopefully natural and organic food additive. There are many varieties as listed from Wiki:
Most commercially available basils are cultivars of sweet basil. There are over 160 named cultivars available and more new ones every year. There are also a number of species sold. Here are some basils commonly sold in the USA.[2]

For a more complete list, see List of basil cultivars

Getting into the medieval royalty and etymological associations referring to the "King of herbs," this traces back to "sweet basil," and the architectural notions of the basilica which is a highly complex deviation segmented out of the ancient ways associating the compass and the planetary influences.

There are obviously many that have written about this where the eye does not see, and the associations to the battle in the Narthex, but this was as the Transept, and a formal cruciform for the transverse association which is also referred to as a septum. The septum is defined as a dividing membrane which is also formed etymologically as basil is formed in neuter deviations and feminine past participles hinting of an enclosure or fence.

Moreover, the strange etymological statements at Wiki are certainly interesting, it seems also in need of additional sources. One wonders what this is rooted in outside of navigation known and it is suggested at least that the cruciform is associating a form of death it may seem where equatorial influences may be set as a possible warning of its nature.

The nature of the plant is tied to the mint family, and presents outstanding terminal clusters that grow as long as 10 inches foliating a blend of deep purple-pointed bloom starts that extend into segmented whitish-lavender blooms with flaring mauve-toothed edges, and tiny dangling white pistils.

The popularity with this herbaceous plant is apparent, from
"Basil is the most popular of all herbs. Its flavor has been described as spicy and peppery, with a hint of clove and mint. It goes well with olive oil, garlic, lemon, rosemary and thyme. Cut basil leaves as needed for the kitchen. The plants grow back quickly. Even if you don't need the herb, its best to pinch off the stems before they go to flower. This keeps the plant growing vigorously and makes it branch more. The flavor is said to be best just before the flowers open."


"Basil is widely used in cosmetics, perfumes, shampoos and soaps. Herbalists recommend basil tea for stomach aches, indigestion and constipation. They steep a teaspoon of dried basil leaves in a cup of boiling water to make a tea that soothes, relaxes and aids digestion."
Basil is most often used with the nightshades in the making of pesto, a sauce that includes fresh garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and grated cheese. The word pesto is from an association to the pestle which is used with a mortar to crush and pound organic substances, it was seemingly partially derived from the word piston.

Medicinally, this pungent herb has many possibilities, as this small bit of info from Health from Nature.
"Basil has many uses. It is considered to be antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, refrigerant etc. The plant is generally used in treatments of problems concerning digestion and nervous system. Leaves are taken (fresh or dried) in cases of fevers, abdominal cramps, gastro-enteritis, constipation, nausea and poor digestion. Tea prepared from the leaves is considered to obviate mild nervous tension, headaches and nausea. Water boiled with basil leaves is taken in case of sore throat. Decoction of the leaves acts as a helpful remedy in treatment of respiratory disorders. Jundice of basil leaves promotes expulsion of kidney stones. Chewing on basil leaves on a daily basis can act as a significant protection against stress, ulcer and mouth infections. Plant is also useful in reduction of blood cholesterol."
 And from a prominent Professor Emeritus at
"Traditionally, basil has been used as a medicinal plant in the treatment of headaches, coughs, diarrhea, constipation, warts, worms, and kidney malfunction (Simon et al., 1999). The antioxidant activities of basil and thyme have been investigated using various model systems and assays. The antioxidant activity of ethanol extract of basil (O. basilicum L.) was investigated by electrochemical measurements (Madsen, Nielsen, Bertelsen, & Skibsted, 1996). In the study of essential oils produced from various cultivars of O. basilicum L., linalool (21.1–33.8% of total quantified volatile compounds), estragole (35.9–56.2%), eugenol (1.12– 4.36%), and 1,8-cineole (3.40–4.37%) were also determined as major constituents (Hasegawa et al., 1997). Major aroma compounds found in volatile extracts of basil exhibited varying amounts of anti-oxidative activity. In particular, eugenol, thymol, carvacrol and 4-allylphenol, found in basil and thyme, exhibited potent antioxidant activity, comparable to the known antioxidants, BHT and a-tocopherol. Considering the abundance of these aroma chemicals in natural plants, the total activity may be comparable, or more, than those of known antioxidants. Furthermore, ingestion of these aroma compounds may help to prevent in vivo oxidative damage, such as lipid peroxidation, which is associated with cancer, premature aging, atherosclerosis, and diabetes."
But this is only the tip of the iceberg, as this from Dr. Leslie Korn.
"In Western Mexico, particularly in the Bahia de Banderas indigenous peoples use basil as a topical anti-inflammatory, combined either with fresh manteca (lard) or with olive oil. The Basil leaves are mixed in a molcajete with the lard or oil and then applied to inflamed joints such as the knees. Manteca is especially rich in Omega 3's and also has anti-inflammatory properties. This mixture will stay potent for several days when kept cool.

Basil is also mixed with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and applied to the bellies of children (and adults) who have colic. Basil can also be mixed with a roasted tomato and manteca and shaped into small rectangles and placed in the freezer. When  frozen, the "basil-tomato-manteca ice" can be applied to swollen glands. To learn more about the  biomedical science of Basil, see our article this month entitled Alabahaca, Fragrance of the Goddesses.

In addition to its culinary effects, basil has been used extensively in herbal medicine and folk medicine for many conditions. Traditional use suggests basil being applied as antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, stomachic, and tonic agents. Basil is effective as a food and tea for treating poor digestion, nausea, insomnia, depression, acne, insect bites and stings, snakebites and skin infections. Basil is a natural sinus decongestant: Mix a handful of fresh basil in a blender with 8 oz. fresh apple juice. This is a natural approach to treating congestion before plane travel.

Basil is used extensively in Chinese Medicine to regulate Chi or energy and to treat irregular menstruation, postpartum blood stagnation, soreness and pain in the tendons and bones. It is effective for the treatment of toothache, eye swelling and pain in general."
A strong sense of the albedo appears as a possible analogy to libido. Research has been done that lends the idea of preservation in association to other substances, see Essential oil from Ocimum basilicum (Omani Basil): a desert crop.

Another version of basil called (Ocimum sanctum L.) carries many sacred and distinct notions and have been used for centuries in the Chinese, Asian, and Indian cultures. This from
"The two primary types of basil are closely related: Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil), which is a staple of Italian and Asian cooking, and Ocimum sanctum (holy basil), which has a religious use or origin in different cultures. Both forms are native to India and Southeast Asia, although they are grown around the world.

Holy basil has been used extensively for its medicinal values by a number of cultures. Chinese medicine uses holy basil for stomach spasms, kidney conditions, to promote blood circulation, and to treat snake and insect bites.

In India, holy basil is known as tulsi, which translates as "incomparable one." The plant, which is considered sacred, is used extensively in religious ceremonies and is believed to protect any home where it is grown. According to Ayurvedic tradition, tulsi is one of the best herbs to prepare the heart and mind for spiritual practices, resolve colds and flu, treat various skin conditions, and reduce fever.

Modern research on holy basil suggests that holy basil contains powerful antioxidants and it may be hepatoprotective (liver protecting). Also, preliminary clinical studies are investigating holy basil's effect on ulcers and blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. Holy basil has generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status in the United States."
We're back in the Narthex no doubt. More from
"One of the varieties of Basil, Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is sacred in the Hindu religion. The goddess, Tulasi is thought to have manifested into the plant. A widely known version of this legend states that, "Tulasi was tricked into betraying her husband when she was seduced by the god Vishnu in the guise of her husband. In her torment, Tulasi killed herself, and Vishnu declared that she would be "worshipped by women for her faithfulness" and would keep women from becoming widows . Thus, holy basil, which also goes by the common name Tulsi, an obvious reference to the goddess, became a Hindu symbol of love, eternal life, purification and protection."
The Asiatic plant medicine suggests the ability to relieve stress with the "incomparable one," mentioned at Medicine Hunter, and this is often referred to as a Thai basil confused as Holy basil, in which ( Ocimum basilicum ) seems to pick up the tab.

According to this writer, the genus Ocimum is an association to the notion of "smell," and she may be on target for the membrane mentioned earlier, but the tucking in the lexicon is much more interesting in that Ockham's razor is set in line with it.

View basil in 108 different languages here.

Last updated: Sept 3 at 1:49 PM EST

1 comment:

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