Basil (Ocimum sanctum)
Holy or Sacred basil, an
oriental species, is cultivated near temples in India and its
odoriferous oil extracted for religious uses. Formerly the common
species was considered sacred by the Brahmins who used it especially in
honor of Vishnu and in funeral rites.
Holy basil also has religious significance in the Greek Orthodox
Church, where it is used to prepare holy water. It is said to have been
found around Christ's tomb after his resurrection. The Bulgarian
Orthodox Church, Serbian Orthodox Church, Macedonian Orthodox Church
and Romanian Orthodox Church use basil to prepare holy water and pots
of basil are often placed below church altars.
Holy basil is usually used in Thai cooking. It has slight bitterness
in taste and some notes of mint and clove taste. If you need holy basil
and if is unavailable, just add a little mint to sweet basil.
|Did You Know?
|The various basils have such
different scents because the herb has a number of different essential
oils which come together in different proportions for various breeds.
Recently, there has been much research into the health
benefits conferred by the essential oils found in basil. Scientific
studies have established that compounds in basil oil have potent
antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties. In
addition, basil has been shown to decrease the occurrence of platelet
aggregation and experimental thrombus in mice. It is traditionally used
for supplementary treatment of stress, asthma and diabetes in India. In
Siddha medicine, it is used for treating pimples on the face, but noted
that intake of the seeds in large quantities is harmful for the brain.