Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ocimum sanctum

Among the most aromatic of herbs is the basil. One variety of
this herb--ocimum sanctum--has for centuries been regarded as holy,
in India. Belonging to the family 'labiatae' it is not more than
25cm to 50cm in height. Native to India, south-east Asia,Iran, and
the north-eastern parts of Africa, it is widely cultivated for its
oil and medicinal properties. The plant has several branches covered
with fine hairs. The flowers are tiny: white with a little purple.
In India it is known as 'tulsi' meaning the incomparable one. Hindus
worship the plant and the epics are full of the miraculous and sacred
events connected with the different species of basil. It is said that
even snakes dare not enter a house which has the plant at its door!

The leaves are used for treating common colds, headaches, poisoning
and stomach disorders. It also acts as a deterrent to mosquitoes,
insects and bacteria.
Since the leaves have antiseptic properties, a paste made by crushing
the leaves, can be applied to wounds, which then heal quickly.

According to Ayurvedic literature, the crushed roots applied to
a snake bite or scorpion sting, brings relief to the victim and
also nullifies the poison.
Personally, I love the freshness of the smell that you get as you
pass by the plant. The little doses of zing--on a sunny or a cloudy
day-- and I have them in several pots around my yard.


Titania said...

A really great healing plant. Phytology is such an interesting subjekt. I have heard about Ayurvedic but I do not know much about it. So, I wouldn'd mind to learn about it. In these healing methods is so much knowledge. In our western medicine it has come to the point where money making is much more important and the teachings of western medicine is wearing big blinkers.

spookydragonfly said...

Hi Kanak - I enjoyed this post - it's always interesting to read the histories of different plants! I noticed that it seems you have alot of houseplants, also. I used to have many indoor plants before adopting the cats..I miss the plants indoors. I'll bet your home is as pretty as your garden.

Daphne said...

I love all the basils. I tried growing holy basil this year but it didn't germinate. I'm going to have to try again next year. I too like going by the basil. I always brush it to get that wonderful scent in the air.

Rhonda said...

I adore basil. Every year I let atleast one plant flower and I get tons of little baby plants all over the garden. I then scoop them up and plant them in small containers, keeping several for myself and giving many away. This way I have fresh basil in the house during winter. Also, hang a bunch of it upside down to dry then use a coffee grinder to grind up the dry leaves. never need to buy dry basil again.

Kanak Hagjer said...

Trudi, I haven't read in any great detail but I keep googling and one does come across really interesting bits of information.
Another thing I wanted to tell you is that I'll need a little time regarding the Blogger Friendship award you gave me.It's truly a wonderful feeling to be thought of...remembered. Thank you once again!

Kim, the overall appearance of my yard is a little on the wild side, mostly because I don't believe in symmetry. Since the soil here retains water (the area is low-lying) I use a lot of pots, I don't have a choice! About the last plants are definitely better-looking than my home!!!

Hi Daphne, so glad you stopped by! I hope this time the basil seeds will germinate and you'll have these wonderful plants in your yard again!

Hi Rhonda, I have basil sprouting all over the place but haven't done anything about it till now. Why, I'll do the same too! Been busy putting seedlings of palms in little containers to be given away. Glad you commented, I better hurry up. At least, plants that I don't need will be happily growing elsewhere! Thanks!!

Ali said...

Namaste - I love to read your blogs as you know very well and this one is all the more interesting for me as I am always growing basil! I have a pot of it in the garden, one or two plants at the allotment and I alway have one on the window sill in the kitchen!! I put it in alot of dishes and I love the flavour it gives. Sometimes just to crush a leaf and smell the scent from your hand is heavenly.
Take care of India for me!
Ali :0)

Sunita said...

Aah! Tulsi is always great to have in the garden. I love that smell too, especially when the leaves are crushed a bit.
I have more of the 'Krishna Tulsi' (with purple stem and stalks) growing in my garden. Actually, they're growing wild all over the place after I planted one little plant years ago.
Do you use it in your cup of tea too? Works great to treat a cough and cold.

tina said...

Why has it been considered holy? Its medicinal properties? Very good information.

Titania said...

Dear Kanak do not worry about the Award. It is only a sign of appreciation. You don't have to do anything about it. It is up to you if you want to display it and or pass it on! In Australia we always say:"Take it easy"!

Kanak Hagjer said...

Hi Ali, shukriyan. Thank you for your kind comment about the blog, about my country... Guess what I'm still reading up information on the basil. The more you get....!!
Have a great gardening week!

Hi Sunita, I don't have any Krishna tulsi now. Was never too fond of tulsi tea but as a remedy for common cold/cough--I'm all for it! When my boys were babies, a paste of tulsi mixed with honey was my wonder-cure for them!
BTW do you cut the flowers to prolong the life of the plant?

Hi Tina,
Yes, it must've started with that! The basil has been the principal herb of Ayurveda--the ancient Indian traditional holistic health system--for thousands of years. The leaves/sprigs are used in all religious rituals. The plant graces the courtyards of Hindu temples and homes. The regard for the basil is the same as one would have for a deity.
So glad you stopped by! Thanks.

Trudi! Thanks for dropping in again. For now--I'll take it easy!!!

tina said...

That is very interesting, quite cool.

Elke said...

I didn't know so much about the basil - I mostly use it in my kitchen. But it is interesting that many people have one or more holy herbs, in India the basil - in Northern America the sage (in Germany??? - perhaps the parsley - no, not really). Most of your characterisations of the basil I know about the sage. But I can tell you, the basil does not help against flies. I put one at my kitchen window, because I read, it would help, but I think the flies love the basil :-(
I hope my English isn't too bad, I have no practice.
Elke / Mainzauber

walk2write said...

Very interesting post. The Essential Oils Desk Reference (I got my copy from notes that "Italian women wore basil to attract possible suitors." Maybe the perfume industry ought to look into that aspect of this wondrous herb.

Kanak Hagjer said...

Elke, hi! I've left a reply for you on Yaoglai.

That's something new to me, wearing basil to attract suitors...I do remember coming across an article which said that in Morocco, the plant is cultivated for its essential oil which is used in the perfume and soap-making industry.
Maybe many other countries should follow suit! Thanks for visiting!