Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Parts used: Leaves
Benefits and uses: The warming, aromatic constituents of basil help to calm the nervous system; settle the stomach; clear the mind; and fight off coughs, colds, flu and allergies. The magnitude of basil’s healing endeavors are reflected in the hundreds of therapeutic applications of this leafy green companion. Basil is known as the destroyer of phlegm - when you consider the number of ailments that are provoked by excess phlegm (from allergies to asthma to colds), you begin to understand the breadth of basil’s virtue.
Basil is most commonly thought of as part of the tomato sauce or pasta dish, but a cup of basil tea works works wonders on almost any digestive complaint. Basil tea relieves stomach cramps and spasm, nausea, gas and constipation. That must be why it’s a primary ingredient in pasta dishes: so you can eat more pasta! Basil doesn’t qualify as the world’s best tasting tea, but it isn’t so bad, especially when you find out what it can do for your stomach. Just add a little honey!
Eating more basil in the late summer and early fall helps fend off sinus and bronchial congestion during the winter. It is also antibacterial and antiviral, making it a helpful remedy for the common cold and flu as well. If you are prone to such sickness, keep some dried basil and drink the tea several times a week as a preventative remedy. It warms the body, clears out the lungs, and sharpens the mind. In the middle of winter when you are feeling cold, dark, damp and depressed, break out your stash of dried basil and let it infuse your day with a little warmth and summer sunshine.