I look forward to the time when our basil (Ocimum bacilicum) is ready to begin picking each year. We’re pretty close, so my thoughts have turned to all the wonderful things I’ll be doing with this versatile plant in the coming months. I think basil is one of those plants people tend to take for granted. I love to take a plant seen by so many as a mere seasoning herb, and reveal its medicinal side.
On our farm, we grow basil in between our tomato plants. It is a great companion plant and benefits from the small amount of shade that the large plants afford. All summer long I pick the leaves to put in fresh pizza sauce and to make a variety of pesto recipes. I also pick them to add to teas and household products.
How To Use Fresh Basil in Four Creative Ways
Here are some of my favorite ways to use basil:
Basil is antibacterial. A basil tea, when used as simple soapless face wash, can be a refreshing way to banish break-outs.
Basil is antispasmodic. Using fresh basil in a salad or sipping a basil tea can help relieve a headache. One of my favorite remedies for headache is a foot bath. I especially love to use lavender and hops. When I am visiting the house of a friend who isn’t quite as into herbs as I am these aren’t often available but I can usually count on them having basil in their spice cabinet.
How To Make a Basil Footbath:
- Heat 3 quarts of water till it is starting to steam (you don’t want it too hot).
- Sit your friend in a comfortable chair with their feet in a large bowl/tub/basin. It should be big enough that water will comfortably cover his/her feet.
- Add fresh basil to the foot basin.
- Pour in the hot water, being careful to test that the water is as hot as they can stand but not too hot.
- Wrap the top of the basin with a towel to keep in the heat.
- Massage, give a basil tea and/or cool cloth for the forehead, and most headaches will be history.
Fresh basil in food or made as a tea can help to relieve nausea, motion sickness or morning sickness. Many references suggest that basil is not recommended during pregnancy. It can act as an emmenagogue (having the ability to start the menstrual cycle) when taken daily in a therapeutic dose. Occasionally using basil in food or as a tea does not constitute a large enough dose and therefore, it can be a tasty solution for the morning sickness sufferer.
Bug Spray for Plants
Every year I bring my tender plants inside during the winter. In the early summer when nighttime temperatures get warm enough everything gets to take a vacation outside. By that time some of them are struggling with a real bug problem. Basil is an easy, inexpensive solution and smells nice too!
How To Make a Basil Bug Tea
- 1 quart water
- 1 cup fresh basil (3-4 Tbsp dried basil)
- 1 tsp liquid castille soap (find it here)
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and pour over basil. Cover your container and allow to steep until completely cool. Strain and add the castille soap. Place in a spritzer bottle and use against soft bodied, sucking insects.