Basil (Luo Le)
Botanical Name: Ocimum basilicum.
Beyond basil’s well known use as a culinary seasoning, this plant has been historically used as a medicine for the body, mind, and spirit. It is considered an emblem of hatred by some and a beneficent spirit by others.
Below is an overview of basil, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of basil.
Western Name: Basil
Also Known As: Thai Basil, Sweet Basil
Organs/Systems: Lung, Uterus
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Antipyretic, Antiseptic, Stomachic; reduces and prevents fevers, relieves stress and tension, improves memory and concentration, headaches, and indigestion; supports kidneys and bladder, cramps, nausea, constipation, asthma, coughs.
Pin Yin: Luo Le
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Heart, Lung, Spleen, Stomach
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Lifts the Spirits/Calm Shen: depression with mental and physical exhaustion. Tonify Yang: adrenal insufficiency, fainting, coma, epilepsy. Dispels Cold/Promotes Menstruation: cold, uterus, cramping, low back pain, nausea, vomiting. Support Lungs/Dries Damp/Expels Phlegm. Clear Toxicity/Antidote for Poisons/Intestinal Infections.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaves
Flavors/Temps: Pungent, Sweet
Caution: None noted.
History/Folklore: Basil originated in India where it was cultivated for over 500 years. Because it is considered the most sacred herb, Indians call it “The Queen of Herbs.” For the Romans, it became an emblem of hatred that was associated with the scorpion.
Essential oils (mainly estragol, eugenol, lineol, linalol, and sometimes thymol), tannins, Camphor basil.
Basilisk to Basil
It is believed that the name basil is derived from the name basilisk, an ancient creature that was half lizard and half dragon.
Clear the Brain
In Elizabethan times, basil was used to clear the brain, create snuff for colds, and accessorize the hair of young girls to indicate they were single.
In the Indian tradition, basil is sacred to Vishnu and Krishna and, thus, considered a protective plant and a beneficent spirit. A basil leaf placed on the tongue of a dead Hindu assured that he reached paradise.
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