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Botanical uses - The volatile oils from Hairy Basil have been extracted by steam distillation, and blended with the oils of turmeric, kaffir lime and citronella. The combination was evaluated in mosquito cages and in a large room for their repellence effects against 3 mosquito vectors, Aedes aegypti, Anopheles dirus and Culex quinquefasciatus. When 5% vanillin was added the mixture repelled the 3 species under cage conditions for up to eight hours, and this combination is recommended as a replacement for Deet, ( N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide), the most common chemical repellent currently available. (Tawatsin, Wratten, Scott, Thavara and Techadamrongsin)
The most common and best known use of Basils is as culinary herbs, playing a large part in e.g. Thai cuisine and Mediterranean cuisine.
As with other Basils, e.g. Sweet Basil, a refreshing tea can be made from the leaves.
The leaves can be used fresh, or dried for winter use.
The seed can be added to bread.
Traditional and historic uses of the substance.
All Basils "are free of any deleterious secretions; for the most part they are fragrant and aromatic, and hence they have not only been used as tonics, but are also valuable as kitchen herbs. In Persia and Malaysia Basil is planted on graves, and in Egypt women scatter the flowers on the resting-places of those belonging to them. These observances are entirely at variance with the idea prevailing among the ancient Greeks that it represented hate and misfortune. They painted poverty as a ragged woman with a Basil at her side, and thought the plant would not grow unless railing and abuse were poured forth at the time of sowing. The Romans, in like manner, believed that the more it was abused, the better it would prosper . But it was said to cause sympathy between human beings and a tradition in Moldavia stills exists that a youth will love any maiden from whose hand he accepts a twig of this plant. In Crete it symbolises 'love washed with tears,' and in some parts of Italy it is a love-token." [Grieve]
In the Middle Ages, Basil was widely linked to scorpions. People believed, for example, that scorpions multiplied under flower pots in which basilicum grew, that scorpions grew out of bruised Basil laid between two stones, while the French doctor Hilarius believed that a scorpion could be born in one's brain by just smelling the herb. The herb's reputation was so negative that the generic name Basilicum, which originated from the Greek word basilikon, royal, was even corrupted to basiliskos, a crested lizard-like monster that appeared in fairy tales, whose glance and breath were fatal. It took many centuries for this belief to diminish and for people to start appreciating the aromatic herb. (Vermeulen Synoptic 2)
Modern uses – The essential oil is used in aromatherapy, and the keynote of the oil is “clearing”.
Basil is antibacterial, antispasmodic, carminative, a tonic, a galactogogue, and the seed is said to remove film and opacity from the eyes.
The leaves can be used externally for acne, insect stings and skin infections.
Its action can be anti-depressant, and stimulates the adrenal cortex.
The leaves have been used for their anti-asthmatic properties.
The seeds have been claimed to be of use in Type 2 diabetes in controlling blood sugar levels. (www.gnc.com/health_notes/comem/diabetes.htm.)
An aqueous extract has anti plaque properties, and has been used in the anti-microbial treatment of periodontal disease. (www.canoe.co/HealthHerbal/b.htm#basil)
J Commun Dis. 2003 Mar;35(1):43-5.
Mosquito larvicidal properties of the leaf extract of a herbaceous plant, Ocimum canum (Family: Labiatae).
Singh NP, Kumari V, Chauhan D.
Department of Zoology, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur.