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Ocimum basilicum

Other names: Ocimum basilicum, St. Joseph's Wort, Sweet basil.

Habitat: Once native to India and Persia only, and still a sacred herb to the Hindus, basil is an annual plant much used now in Mediterranean cookery. It grows up to 2 feet in height, and its one drawback is that it must be raised from seed or seedling each year. It likes a rich moist soil with plenty of sun. You can buy various types of basil besides the "sweet" variety, the other most popular being "bush" basil. All posses the same properties, however. The herb grows with a square stem in section; smooth, slightly toothed, oval leaves, which give off a strong clove fragrance when crushed; and white, pink or red whorls of flowers which nestle in the axils of the leaves (where the leaf joins the stem).

Properties: Basil contains an aromatic and volatile camphor-bearing oil which gives it its marvelous clove-like fragrance and accounts for its use in cooking, potpourris and perfumery. A delicious tea can also be prepared from the leaves which is though to allay mild nervous tension headaches and nausea.

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Basil Tea: Infuse 1 teaspoon dried herb in 1 covered cup boiling water. strain, and flavor with honey if desired. Up to 1 or 2 cups a day may be taken.

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