Basil. One of the staples in Italian and Indian cuisine, is one of the most versatile, and flavorful plant species; that often gets overlooked, because of its notorious culinary uses. Its scientific name is: Ocimum basilicum, which lies in the lamiaceae family. Along with other popular plants like: mint, rosemary, sage, and lavender. The family itself is a very large family, consisting of approximately seven thousand species; making it one of the larger families in the kingdom. Along with basil, is its cousin: holy basil. Also having the same genus, (ocimum), it is called Ocimum tenuiflorum. Taken from the same family, but with surprising medical benefits. This plant is not as widely popular in foods, but is usually used in Indian cuisine. Both of these plants have incredibly beautiful structures, appearances, and fragrances. Basil likes to grow in dry, warm climates; like Europe, Northern USA, and south of New Zealand. Basil is very easy to grow inside though. They do not need much attention, just a well ventilated and drained pot. Not too much water, for it does not do well with water stress. And sunlight. Once grown, it is a very fragrant and beautiful plant. The leaves have a shiny, green hue to them. The leaves themselves are thin and do not take long to cook at all. This same process is applicable to Holy basil as well, except they may require a little more trimming and attention. The leaves themselves are quite similar to basil leaves, except when they flower, you are more able to see the anthers and stigmas. Humans have done an incredible job of utilizing the health benefits from these two plants. The most astonishing and beautiful plant, to me, has to be Holy basil. I have not heard of this plant before, and when I started to read about it, I became thoroughly intrigued with the used that this plant has! It has primarily been used in Indian culture, to cure and treat health problems. Lots of people view Holy basil as a healthy and natural to cure and treat health issues though. The plant itself has been cultivated since around 800 AD, and since then, humans have discovered ways that it can treat a number of health problems. These could include: Bronchitis, Malaria, Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Eczema, Stomach Ulcers, and Insect bites. From the examples given, we can picture Holy basil being used in Indian medicine. For most of the problems listed; are, or were prominent in India. It is interesting in the way that Holy basil is delivered to your body, there is a tea, and also a pill form. The tea form seems to be the most popular. It has been proven to lower stress and anxiety levels, scientists have done experiments with the effects of Holy basil, and it has been proven! Also, from reading tea reviews, I have read dozens of reviews that say the tea has made back pain go away, and lowered stress/anxiety levels. Seems like a good investment a college student should make! There was an experiment done on animals, where they gave them Holy basil. The study showed that animals experienced an increase in stamina, and (most interestingly), when they put the animal in a stressful situation in which they had to do a task, they were completely calm and stress free. Don’t think regular old basil has no health benefits though! Basil has similar benefits to Holy basil! It acts as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial properties, antimicrobacterial properties that fight against viruses and infections, encourages cardiovascular health, and acts as a detoxicant! There is basil tea, and also it is easy to introduce into your diet! Goes excellent with a pesto or marinara sauce, and surprisingly on pizza also! Such an incredible plant that is so readily available. Some aspects of basil, I had not even realized! I am of Greek and Italian descent. I have had basil in pots and in the garden since I can remember. I have been subconsciously been eating basil in so many foods without even knowing it. I have fond memories of my mom saying “my basils ready! Christopher come smell!” There are things that I have now realised that are so prominent in my culture, with the help of basil. During Holy week, on Holy saturday; the priest has a basket full of dried basil, and bay leaves. He throws them all over the church, creating a blanket of green everywhere you look. People are cheering, and using noise makers. In foods, it is basically everywhere you look. Within almost every dish, there is an aspect of green. Most likely basil, or oregano. Greeks are proud to harvest basil because of the difficulty that comes with planting in Greece. It is so widely used, because it has been so prominent in the success as a country. What’s a pesto sauce without basil! Italians have been using basil in their cuisine for a long time! Like their Greek neighbors, they use it in almost every food they can! Even adding it to pizza. Although the Europeans use of basil in culinary, may not be as interesting as the health benefits. It sure is beautiful and magnificent to see how it has touched cultures and been so important to the benefit of human existence.
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