The king of herbs basil herb is one of the ancient and popular herbal plants brimming with notable health-benefiting phytonutrients. This highly prized plant is revered as ‘holy herb’ in many cultures all around the world. Basil belongs to the family of Lamiaceae, in the genus: Ocimum. Its scientific name is ‘Ocimum basilicum.’Basil is originally native to Iran, India and other tropical regions of Asia. This bushy annual herb is especially grown for its medicinally useful leaves and seeds. Basil grows best under warm, tropical climates. Fully-grown plant reaches about 100 cm in height. Its leaves vary from light-green to purple, smooth and silky, about 1 to 2.5 inches long and 0.5 to 1 inch broad with opposite arrangement. The flowers are quite large, white or purple, arranged in terminal spikes.
HOW TO GROW
Choose the kind of basil you wish to grow. Basil comes in many different varieties, each of which have a unique flavor and smell. Read up on different types of basil and pick out one – or several – that appeal to you, then order the seeds or buy them at a garden store.
- Start seed indoors four to six weeks before last frost. Basil needs warm air and sun to do well, so it’s often easiest to start the seeds indoors instead of risking that they’ll get damaged by frost.if you live in a hot climate, you can start the seeds outside instead.
- Prepare seed containers. Fill flats or individual seed containers with a mixture of equal parts perlite, vermiculite, and peat. Press the mixture slightly to eliminate air pockets. Dampen the mixture with water so it’s ready to provide the right environment for the basil seeds to germinate.
- Plant the seeds. Drop one to two seeds into each container. Cover them lightly with soil. Cover containers with clear plastic kitchen wrap, so they stay moist. Leave the containers in a sunny window. Twice daily, remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the containers with more water.
- Remove the plastic wrap when the sprouts emerge. When you see the first green tendrils push up through the soil, it’s time to remove the plastic wrap. Keep watering the sprouts twice daily, never letting the soil dry out. When the plants become a few inches tall and their leaves mature, it’s time to transplant them to a larger container.
Make sure that the soil is moist. Basil plants like moisture. If you live in a hot area, use mulch around the basil plants (the mulch will help keep the soil moist).
- Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth throughout the summer.
- After 6 weeks, pinch off the center shoot to prevent early flowering. If flowers do grow, just cut them off.
- If the weather is going to be cold, be sure to harvest your basil beforehand, as the cold weather will destroy your plants.
- Variety of bacterial and fungal leaf, stem, and root diseases
A Basil contains a wide range of essential oils rich in phenolic compounds and a wide array of other natural products including polyphenols such as flavonoids and anthocyanins.
- The herb contains high quantitites of (E)-beta-caryophyllene (BCP), which may be useful in treating arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases, according to research conducted at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
- Reduce inflammation and swelling – a study presented at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s annual event, revealed that extracts of O. tenuiflorm (Holy basil) were shown to reduce swelling by up to 73%, 24 hours after treatment.
- Anti-aging properties – according to research presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) in Manchester, basil has properties that can help prevent the harmful effects of aging. Holy basil extract was effective at killing off harmful molecules and preventing damage caused by some free radicals in the liver, brain and heart.
- Rich in antioxidants – results of a study published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmacy Education & Research showed that ethanol extract Ocimum basilicum had more antioxidant activity than standard antioxidants.