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Basil: Food? Oil? What?

ayurveda medicine basil basil essential oil cooking india italian cooking royal herb

The "Royal Herb" or the "King of Herbs" has not only many names but many uses. Typically when you hear the word "basil", the first thing that pops into many people's minds and memories is eating grandma's spaghetti sauce and taking a bite of something that looks and tastes like a leaf! "Oh my goodness honey, I forgot to take out the basil leaf" , grandma would say. Ahhh yes, the wonderful basil leaf. You may also relate it to other dishes such a Pesto or pizza, maybe even soups and salads. But did you know basil has other faces, forms and benefits?(other than being just plain tasty!)

Back up to the top where I mention "The Royal Herb or King of Herbs", those names came from the Greek word "basilikon phuton",  translation, "royal/kingly plant".  Basil has been documented for at least the last 5000 years and in India it is a sacred plant and an integral part of ayurveda medicine, which is a traditional Hindu system of medicine which believes in balancing the body systems using diet, herbal treatment and yoga breathing. A fun fact about basil? Many years ago in Italian folklore it is said that if a woman put a pot of basil on her balcony she was ready to court and if a man came and put a sprig of basil in her pot she would fall in love with him. :-)

Basil is known for it's amazing culinary uses but as you saw above, some parts of the world use basil for it medicinal benefits. Scientists and some doctors even believe basil essential oil has therapeutic qualities as well. The essential oil comes from the leaf of the basil plant and is extracted by steam distillation.  The potency is increased with the oil due to it's concentration. It can still be used for cooking but less is needed than with it's fresh or dried herbal plant counterpart. Several  benefits include , antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities, energy booster, mood enhancer, ear infection remedy, insect repellent and acne treatment just to name a few. Basil is an alkaline food, which follows the PH Healthy lifestyle (www.phhealthy.com) and is FDA recognized as safe for oral consumption. The possibilities and uses are endless and basil mixes well with other oils and herbs. What ideas will you come up with? 

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