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Information @ a Glance

General
  • Basil's botanical name is Ocimium basilicum. It is a native of India, South Asia, the Middle East and has been grown for thousands of years in the Mediterranean region. Basil is found growing wild in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world.
  • There are many varieties of basil: Sweet Basil, Bush Basil, Dark Opal Basil, Lemon Basil, Holy Basil, Vero Basil, Purple Ruffle Basil and the list goes on. Sweet Basil and Bush Basil are best choices for culinary use.

Growth and Cultivation

  • All basils are tender annuals which are easy to grow, but are very susceptible to cold weather. They should be planted in late spring after all danger of frost is past. To produce high quality basil, grow it in full sun in warm, well-drained soil. Raised beds are highly recommended because they promote good drainage and warm quickly in the spring. A light sand to silt loam with a pH of 6.4 is best. 

  • For fresh-cut basil production, the use of mulch is highly recommended. Mulch conserves moisture, reduces weed growth, and keeps the basil leaves clean. Highest yields have been obtained with black, polyethylene mulch. Hardwood bark and straw also are good choices.

Antioxidant Activity of Basil

  • Among the essential oils extracted from the basil cultivars, the highest antioxidant activity was found in the Sweet basil essential oils, with significantly lower activity observed in the essential oils from ‘Dark Opal’ and ‘Osmin purple’, and much lower activity in the ‘Lemon’, ‘Purple Ruffles’, Italian Large Leaf’, ‘Cinnamon’, and ‘Holy Basil’ oils.

  • In all basils, the essential oil contribution to the total antioxidant activity was low, varying from 0.05% in ‘Purples Ruffles’ to 5.9% in ‘Sweet’ basil (FRAP) and from 0.1% in ‘Purples Ruffles’ to 4% (ABTS) in ‘Sweet’ basil.

  • In sweet basil, although the antioxidant activity of the ethanolic extract was low, the activity of the oil itself was the highest, as this oil contained the  highest amount of eugenol relative to all other samples. However, the contribution of this oil to the antioxidant activity of the ethanolic extract was around 5%, due to the modest concentration of eugenol (18% relative to total essential oil). 

Applications

  • Basil has been known for many years as an herbal remedy for diseases of the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and the bladder. It is primarily a digestive and nervous system aid. Infuse basil and use it as a tea for indigestion. Inhale basil tea to relieve cold symptoms. A tonic can be made by steeping basil leaves in wine for several hours. Basil has uplifting, energizing, anti-depressant properties.
  • Use basil flowers and leaves for an invigorating bath. Basil adds luster to hair: brunettes, add it to a rosemary rinse, blondes, add it to a chamomile rinse. Combine basil essential oil with other essential oils to make perfumes and toilet water. Blends well with: Bergamot, geranium, hyssop, neoili, marjoram, melissa and lavender.

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