Basil: Herb of the Week

Garden basil (Ocimum basilicum) may seem like just an ingredient in pesto, but wait! There’s more to this week’s herb!

Mood Lifter

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One of my favorite things about basil is its ability to uplift the spirit – much like its close relative, tulsi (Ocimum sanctum).

During stretches of grey weather in the winter, I find myself reaching for the fresh basil at the grocery store, and that’s no coincidence. The light aromatic scent and the sweet spicy taste have uplifting and relaxing effects on the body. That mood boost turns a dreary winter dinner into something much more therapeutic!

Digestive Support

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Basil’s not just delicious, it helps your digestion, too. Basil is a carminative – which is an old word for “a warming digestive herb” – and adding carminative herbs to foods helps rev up digestive function. So it’s no surprise that so many recipes call for basil!

In fact, a study in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal included basil as a plant effective for flatulence and bloating in a study of traditional Persian medicinal approaches to digestive issues. So grab some pesto – or some basil tincture – and bon appetit!


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Basil has potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as well. I often wonder if a big part of our inflammation epidemic is caused by a lack of vegetables – and especially the more wild vegetables that used to be so central to daily diets.

It seems like every herb and vegetable they study turns up with these important anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compounds, and though it’s definitely true that our mainstream processed food tendencies do expose us to increased inflammation, the lack of plantfoods that humans depended on for eons to mitigate the damaging effects of day-to-day life really puts us in the hole. Want to dig out? More basil at every meal! (And parsley, and chives, and collards, and radicchio, and … well, you get the idea.)


Want to learn more about herbs that can make your life better? Check out our Materia Medica program – it’s a complete herbal toolkit to keep you healthy and strong!

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