Herbs & Plants

Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum )

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Botanical Name :Ocimum basilicum
Family: Lamiaceae or LABIATAE Mint Family
Genus: Ocimum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Species: O. basilicum
Common Names :  Basil , Sweet Basil
Parts Used: leaves, essential oil

The word basil comes from the Greek (basileus), meaning “king”, as it is believed to have grown above the spot where St. Constantine and Helen discovered  the Holy Cross. The Oxford English Dictionary quotes speculations that basil may have been used in “some royal unguent, bath, or medicine”. Basil is still considered  the “king of herbs” by many cookery authors.

Habitat :It’s original habitat is obscure. Most probably  Basil is originally native to Iran, India and other tropical regions of Asia, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years Asia.Now grows everywhere. Long cultivated..Cultivated Beds;


Perennial growing to 0.45m by 0.3m. It is a tender low-growing herb. Basil is a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in  the Southeast Asian cuisines of Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The plant tastes somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, sweet smell.There are many varieties of basil. That which is used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil, as opposed to Thai basil, lemon basil and holy basil, which are used in Asia. While most common varieties of basil are treated as annuals, some are perennial in warm, tropical climates, including African Blue and Holy Thai basil..
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It is hardy to zone 10 and is frost tender. It is in flower from August to September, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.  The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow  in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Ocimum has several Species grows in different places as follows:
1.Ocimum × africanum Lour. – Africa, Madagascar, China, Indian Subcontinent, Indochina; naturalized in Guatemala, Chiapas, Netherlands Antilles, eastern Brazil
2.Ocimum americanum L. (tropical Africa), Indian Subcontinent, China, Southeast Asia; naturalized in Queensland, Christmas Island, and parts of tropical America
3.Ocimum amicorum A.J.Paton – Tanzania
4.Ocimum angustifolium Benth. – southeastern Africa from Kenya to Tranasvaal
5.Ocimum basilicum L. – Basil, Sweet basil – China, Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia; naturalized in Russia, Ukraine, Africa, Mexico, Central America, South America, and various oceanic islands
6.Ocimum burchellianum Benth. – Cape Province of South Africa
7.Ocimum campechianum Mill. – Amazonian basil – widespread across Florida, Mexico, West Indies, Central and South America
8.Ocimum canescens A.J.Paton – Tanzania
9.Ocimum carnosum (Spreng.) Link & Otto ex Benth. – Mexico, South America
10.Ocimum centraliafricanum R.E.Fr – Zaïre, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
11.Ocimum circinatum A.J.Paton – Ethiopia, Somalia
12.Ocimum coddii (S.D.Williams & K.Balkwill) A.J.Paton – Northern Province of South Africa
13.Ocimum cufodontii (Lanza) A.J.Paton – Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya
14.Ocimum dambicola A.J.Paton – Tanzania, Zambia
15.Ocimum decumbens Gürke – from Zaïre to South Africa
16.Ocimum dhofarense (Sebald) A.J.Paton – Oman
17.Ocimum dolomiticola A.J.Paton – Northern Province of South Africa
18.Ocimum ellenbeckii Gürke – Ethiopia, Zaïre
19.Ocimum empetroides (P.A.Duvign.) ined. – Zaïre
20.Ocimum ericoides (P.A.Duvign. & Plancke) A.J.Paton – Zaïre
21.Ocimum filamentosum Forssk. – eastern + southern Africa, Arabian Peninsula, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar
22.Ocimum fimbriatum Briq. – central Africa
23.Ocimum fischeri Gürke – Kenya, Tanzania
24.Ocimum formosum Gürke – Bale Province of Ethiopia
25.Ocimum forskoelei Benth. – eastern Africa from Egypt to Kenya, Angola, Arabian Peninsula
26.Ocimum fruticosum (Ryding) A.J.Paton – Somalia
27.Ocimum grandiflorum Lam. – Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia
28. African basil Africa, Madagascar, southern Asia, Bismarck Archipelago; naturalized in Polynesia, Mexico, Panama, West Indies, Brazil, Bolivia
29.Ocimum hirsutissimum (P.A.Duvign.) A.J.Paton – Zaïre
30.Ocimum irvinei J.K.Morton – West Africa
31.Ocimum jamesii Sebald – Ethiopia, Somalia
32.Ocimum kenyense Ayob. ex A.J.Paton – Kenya, Tanzania
33.Ocimum kilimandscharicum Baker ex Gürke – Camphor basil – Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia; naturalized in Angola, India, Myanmar, Thailand
34.Ocimum labiatum (N.E.Br.) A.J.Paton – Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland
35.Ocimum lamiifolium Hochst. ex Benth – eastern + central Africa
36.Ocimum masaiense Ayob. ex A.J.Paton – Ngong Hills in Kenya
37.Ocimum mearnsii (Ayob. ex Sebald) A.J.Paton – Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda
38.Ocimum metallorum (P.A.Duvign.) A.J.Paton – Zaïre
39.Ocimum minimum L. – India, Sri Lanka
40.Ocimum minutiflorum (Sebald) A.J.Paton – eastern + central Africa
41.Ocimum mitwabense (Ayob.) A.J.Paton – Zaïre
42.Ocimum monocotyloides (Plancke ex Ayob.) A.J.Paton – Zaïre
43.Ocimum motjaneanum McCallum & K.Balkwill – Swaziland
44.Ocimum natalense Ayob. ex A.J.Paton – Mozambique, KwaZulu-Natal
45.Ocimum nudicaule Benth. – Brazil, Paraguay, Misiones Province of Argentina
46.Ocimum nummularia (S.Moore) A.J.Paton – Somalia
47.Ocimum obovatum E.Mey. ex Benth. – tropical Africa, Madagascar
48.Ocimum ovatum Benth. – Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina
49.Ocimum pseudoserratum (M.R.Ashby) A.J.Paton – Northern Province of South Africa
50.Ocimum pyramidatum (A.J.Paton) A.J.Paton – Tanzania
51.Ocimum reclinatum (S.D.Williams & M.Balkwill) A.J.Paton – Mozambique, KwaZulu-Natal
52.Ocimum serpyllifolium Forssk. – Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia
53.Ocimum serratum (Schltr.) A.J.Paton – South Africa, Swaziland
54.Ocimum somaliense Briq. – Ethiopia
55.Ocimum spectabile (Gürke) A.J.Paton – Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia
56.Ocimum spicatum Deflers….. Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenya, Somalia
57.Ocimum tenuiflorum L. – Holy Basil, Tulsi – China, Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Queensland; naturalized in Kenya, Fiji, French Polynesia, West Indies, Venezuela
58.Ocimum transamazonicum C.Pereira – Brazil
59.Ocimum tubiforme (R.D.Good) A.J.Paton – Northern Province of South Africa
60.Ocimum urundense Robyns & Lebrun – Burundi, Tanzania
61.Ocimum vandenbrandei (P.A.Duvign. & Plancke ex Ayob.) A.J.Paton – Marungu Province in Zaïre
62.Ocimum vanderystii (De Wild.) A.W.Hill. – Zaïre, Congo-Brazzaville, Angola, Zambia
63.Ocimum viphyense A.J.Paton – Malawi, Zambia
64.Ocimum waterbergense (S.D.Williams & K.Balkwill) A.J.Paton – Northern Province of South Africa

1.Ocimum × citriodorum (O. americanum × O. basilicum) – Lemon basil
2.Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum ‘Dark Opal’ – African blue basil

Formerly placed here:
1.Basilicum polystachyon (L.) Moench (as O. polystachyon L.)
2.Isodon inflexus (Thunb.) Kudô (as O. inflexum Thunb.)
3.Frankenia salina (Molina) I.M.Johnst. (as O. salinum Molina)
4.Mosla scabra (Thunb.) C.Y.Wu & H.W.Li (as O. punctulatum J.F.Gmel. and O. scabrum Thunb.)
5.Orthosiphon aristatus (Blume) Miq. (as O. aristatum Blume)
6.Perilla frutescens var. crispa (Thunb.) W.Deane (as O. crispum Thunb.)
7.Perilla frutescens var. frutescens (as O. frutescens L.)
8.Plectranthus scutellarioides (L.) R.Br. (as O. scutellarioides L.)

Prefers a rich light well-drained to dry soi. Requires a sunny sheltered position if grown outdoors. Tolerates a pH in the range 5 to 8. Sweet basil is commonly grown as an aromatic culinary and medicinal herb in warm temperate and tropical climates. There are a number of different constituents that make up the essential oil in basil, and the proportions of these vary considerably between plants growing in different regions of the world. From this variety many named varieties with differing flavour characteristics have been developed. Basil is a perennial plant in the tropics, but it is frost tender and needs to be grown as a half-hardy annual in temperate zones. It is a very good companion plant to grow in the house or greenhouse, its aromatic foliage helping to reduce problems caused by insect pests[K]. It requires a good hot summer in Britain if it is to do well outdoors. Sweet basil is a good companion plant for tomatoes but it grows badly with rue and sage. When grown near raspberries it can retard their fruiting.

Seed – sow mid to late spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually free and quick, prick out the seedlings into individual pots when  they are large enough to handle. If growing basil outdoors, plant out after the last expected frosts.

No entries have been made for this species as yet.

Common Uses: ConcentrationMemory/Focus * Culinary * Facial and Skin care * General Health Tonics * Insect Bites/Rashes * Insect Repellent *
Properties:  Antispasmodic* Carminative* Cephalic* Digestive* Emmenagogue* Expectorant* Febrifuge* Nervine* Stomachic* Diaphoretic* Stimulant* Antifungal*
Galactagogue* Aromatic* Refrigerant*

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.

Edible Uses: Condiment; Drink; Tea.

Leaves and flowers – raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring or as a spinach, they are used especially with tomato dishes, pasta sauces, beans, peppers and aubergines.
The leaves are normally used fresh but can also be dried for winter use. A very pleasant addition to salads, the leaves have a delightful scent of cloves. Use the
leaves sparingly in cooking because the heat concentrates the flavour. A refreshing tea is made from the leaves. The seed can be eaten on its own or added to bread
dough as a flavouring. When soaked in water it becomes mucilaginous and can be made into a refreshing beverage called ‘sherbet tokhum’ in the Mediterranean. An
essential oil obtained from the plant is used as a food flavouring in mustards, sauces, vinegars etc.

Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto—a green Italian oil-and-herb sauce. Its other two main ingredients are olive oil and pine nuts.
The most commonly used Mediterranean basil cultivars are “Genovese”, “Purple Ruffles”, “Mammoth”, “Cinnamon”, “Lemon”, “Globe”, and “African Blue”. The Chinese also
use fresh or dried basils in soups and other foods. In Taiwan, people add fresh basil leaves to thick soups (traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ) They also eat fried chicken with deep-fried basil leaves. Basil (most commonly Thai Basil) is commonly steeped in cream or milk to create an interesting flavor in ice cream or chocolates (such as truffles).

Basil is sometimes used with fresh fruit and in fruit jams and sauces—in particular with strawberries, but also raspberries or dark-colored plums. Arguably the flat-leaf basil used in Vietnamese cooking, which has a slightly different flavour, is more suitable for use with fruit.

This is the variety of Sweet Basil that gives many Thai dishes their distinctive flavor. It is characterised by its purplish upper stems and inflorescence branches and smaller, less convex leaves than European Basil, and with a stronger hint of anise in the flavor and aroma. There does not seem to be any widely accepted varietal or cultivar name for it, which is a pity. I am therefore using its Thai common name ‘Horapha’ as a pseudo-cultivar name. Pronounced “hora pah”.

Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. It is generally added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavour. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of its flavour, and what little flavour remains tastes very different, with a weak coumarin flavour, like hay.

Basil seeds:-
When soaked in water the seeds of several basil varieties become gelatinous, and are used in Asian drinks and desserts such as falooda or Sherbet. Such seeds are known variously as sabza, subza, takmaria, tukmaria, tukhamaria, falooda, selasih (Malay/Indonesian) or h?t é (Vietnamese). They are used for their medicinal properties in Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India and Siddha medicine, a traditional Tamil system of medicine. They are also used as popular drinks in Southeast Asia.

Constituents: camphor, cineole, estragol, (or methyl chavicol),eugenol, linalool, pinene

Medicinal Actions &  Uses
Antibacterial; Antispasmodic; Aromatherapy; Aromatic; Carminative; Digestive; Galactogogue; Ophthalmic; Stomachic; Tonic.

Sweet basil has been used for thousands of years as a culinary and medicinal herb. It acts principally on the digestive and nervous systems, easing flatulence, stomach cramps, colic and indigestion. The leaves and flowering tops are antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, galactogogue, stomachic and tonic. They are taken internally in the treatment of feverish illnesses (especially colds and influenza), poor digestion, nausea, abdominal cramps, gastro-enteritis, migraine, insomnia, depression and exhaustion. Externally, they are used to treat acne, loss of smell, insect stings, snake bites and skin infections. The leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season and are used fresh or dried. The mucilaginous seed is given in infusion in the treatment of gonorrhoea, dysentery and chronic diarrhoea. It is said to remove film and opacity from the eyes. The root is used in the treatment of bowel complaints in children. Extracts from the plant are bactericidal and are also effective against internal parasites. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is ‘Clearing’.

An infusion of the leaves is a quick remedy for bronchitis and colds and an infusion of the seeds is an excellent diuretic.  A decoction of the roots is thought to relieve malarial fever. Leaves are diaphoretic, antiperiodic, bronchitis, gastric & hepatic disorders etc. A tea prepared with the leaves of O. sanctum is commonly used in cough, cold, mild, indigestion, diminished appetite and malaise. Anthelmintic, deodorant, stimulant, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, blood purifier, useful in skin diseases, antipyretic particularly in malarial fevers. Externally applied on chronic non healing ulcers, inflammation, skin disorders, useful in nausea, pain in abdomen, worms, allergic rhinitis, all types of cough, respiratory disorders. It acts as a powerful mosquito repellent.

In a 1997 study at M.S. University of Baroda, India, 17 NIDDM patients were supplemented with 1 g basil leaf per day for 30 days. Ten NIDDM patients served as controls, receiving no supplementation. All subjects were taking antidiabetic medications and did not change their diets. Holy basil lowered fasting blood glucose 20.8 percent, total cholesterol 11.3 percent and triacylglycerols 16.4 percent.18 I recommend 1­4 g of dried leaf daily. . It is said that eating Holy basil along with other foods will relieve stomach problems including cramps and digestive disorders.

The ethanolic extract of the leaves exhibited a hypoglycemic effect in rats and an antispasmodic effect in isolated guinea pig ileum. Tulsi extract was administered to 20 patients with shortness of breath secondary to tropical eosinophia in an oral dosage of 500 mg TID and an improvement in breathing was noted. The aqueous extract showed a hypotensive effect on anesthetised dogs and cats and negative inotropic and chronotropic activity (reduces the force and rate, respectively) on rabbit’s heart. Antibacterial activity has been shown against Staphlococcus aureus and Mycoplasma tuberculosis in vitro as well as against several other species of pathogens including fungi. The plant has had general adaptogenic effects in mice and rats and has been shown to protect against stress-induced ulcers. The leaf extract was found to protect guinea pigs against histamine and pollen induced asthma. Adaptogenic activity of Ocimum sanctum is reported in rats & mice.

Recent research studied the effect of Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi)on experimental cataract in rats and rabbits by P. SHARMA, S. KULSHRESHTHA AND A.L. SHARMA
Department of Pharmacology, S.N. Medical College, Agra – 282 001.
SUMMARY Objective: Methods: Two models of experimental cataract were induced: (1) Galactosaemic cataract in rats by 30% galactose, (2) Naphthalene cataract in rabbits by 1 gm/kg naphthalene. Ocimum sanctum (O.S.) was administered orally in both models at two dose levels 1 and 2 gm/kg of body weight for curative and prophylactic effects. The study was conducted for 40 days.

Results: O.S. delayed the onset of cataract as well as the subsequent maturation of cataract significantly in both models. In addition to delay in reaching various stages of development of cataract, IV stage did not develop with high doses till completion of 40 days of experimental period.

Conclusion: O.S. delayed the process of cataractogenesis in both models.  The higher doses are more effective and have got promising prophylactic role rather than curative one. This effect is more clear in galactosaemiccataract.  (Indian J Pharmacol 1998; 30: 16-20) More research: Surender Singh and D.K. Majumdar University of Delhi, New Delhi, India: The fixed oil of O. sanctum seeds was screened for antiarthritic activity using Freund’s adjuvant arthritis, formaldehyde-induced arthritis and also turpentine oil-induced joint edema in rats. The oil was administered intraperitoneally for 14 days in the case of adjuvant-induced arthritis and 10 days in formaldehyde-induced arthritis. The mean changes in diameter of paw were noted at regular intervals. X-rays of paws were taken at the end of study and SGOT & SGPT levels were also estimated. The fixed oil showed significant anti-arthritic activity in both models and anti-edema activity against turpentine oil-induced joint edema.

Traditional Uses: The leaf infusion or fresh leaf juice is commonly used in cough, mild upper respiratory infections, bronchospasm, stress-related skin disorders and indigestion. It is combined with ginger and maricha (black pepper) in bronchial asthma. It is given with honey in bronchitis and cough. The leaf juice is taken internally and also applied directly on cutaneous lesions in ringworm. The essential oil has been used in ear infections. The seeds are considered a general nutritious tonic.


Other Uses
Essential; Repellent; Strewing.

An essential oil obtained from the whole plant is used as a food flavouring and in perfumery, dental applications etc. An average yield of 1.5% essential oil is obtained from the flowering tops. When applied to the skin it makes a good mosquito repellent. The growing or dried plant is an effective insect repellent. It is a good plant to grow in the home, where it repels flies, or in the greenhouse where it can keep all manner of insect pests away from nearby plants. It has been used in the past as a strewing herb.

Scented Plants
Leaves: Fresh Crushed Dried
The leaves are strongly aromatic. There are many named forms with different scents.

Known Hazards: None known .A toxicity study against fungi has been conducted by Dube et al. , which demonstrated that the plant is of insecticidal potent. Similar
researches confirmed recently that the plant is very toxic to mosquitos . However, the plant is safe to rats . Neverthless, further scientific researches should be warranted, since there are no equivalent reports of its use against humans.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Ocimum basilicum 'Horapha' 040924-1345

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