Healing Herbs: 5 Medicinal Uses for Basil
Basil is a popular culinary herb that is often used in Italian and tomato-based recipes. There are hundreds of varieties of basil, each with their own unique properties. While dried basil provides an inexpensive and flavoursome addition to many dishes, fresh basil can easily be grown in most homes and used straight from the plant. Aside from the many culinary uses of this wonderful herb, basil also has a whole range of medicinal uses.
1. Stress Relief
Basil has a calming effect on the human body and can act as a natural sedative. It can be used to help you unwind at the end of a long day, cope with ongoing stress and reduce anxiety levels. Basil can also help with insomnia, particularly if it is stress induced. For acute stress, anxiety or insomnia, chew 10 fresh basil leaves. For chronic stress or anxiety, chew a few leaves once or twice a day and try to add basil to your cooking.
2. Respiratory Problems
Basil is often used as an ingredient in cough syrups and expectorants. You can make your own remedy for coughs, sore throats and respiratory problems with just a handful of fresh basil leaves. To make your own remedy, cover the leaves with water and bring to the boil. After a few minutes of boiling, remove from the heat and leave to cool. Once cool, strain the liquid and use as a soothing drink or mouth gargle to help ease respiratory problems.
3. Colds and Flu
Basil contains antioxidants that can help to strengthen your immune system and reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms associated with colds and flu. Basil can also help to prevent infections and aid your recovery from illness. Add basil to your cooking or chew fresh basil leaves two or three times a day. To help relieve a head cold, make a steam inhalation by placing a few basil leaves in a bowl and adding a little boiling water.
4. Wound Healing
Basil contains antibacterial properties that can help to prevent infection. Basil also helps to soothe sore skin, reduce inflammation and promote the healing of wounds. Apply fresh leaves directly to the wound or make a poultice to draw out any existing infection. To make a poultice, place one cup of chopped fresh basil leaves into a saucepan and add two cups of water. Simmer the mixture for two minutes, before
removing from the heat. Dip a piece of gauze or muslin into the cooled liquid and apply to the affected area.
Basil is an excellent digestive aid that can be used to alleviate flatulence, indigestion, nausea and other intestinal problems. Basil contains antispasmodic properties that can be useful in the treatment of many digestive problems. For acute digestive problems, try making a homemade basil tea. Take some fresh basil leaves, rinse in clean water and place in the bottom of a cup or mug. Fill with boiling water and leave for up to five minutes, before passing the liquid through a sieve to remove the basil leaves.