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How to Use Medicinal Herbs: Basil

Updated on April 26, 2012
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A splendidly aromatic plant, basil has long been used as not only a culinary herb, but a medicinal herb as well. When used for its numerous health benefits, most people will turn to the kitchen in order to get their basil fix; however, the benefits of this herb do not have to be confined to a recipe. In fact, considering how popular this plant has become, it is no surprise to find that it has been dried, condensed and packed in a variety of easy-to-use forms.

Basil As a Supplement

Although pill-form supplements are convenient and readily available, you may also want to try taking basil as a liquid. Tinctures containing varying dosages of this herb can be found in just about any health food store, and, with a bit of creative thinking, may be just as convenient as their capsule-based counterparts. For instance, you could pour a few drops into your early morning oatmeal or coffee, splash some into your water bottle during your workout, or add a bit to your soup during dinner.

Basil in Liquid Form

Both health enthusiasts and tea lovers alike can't help but fall for the spicy, aromatic charms of basil leaf tea. Though you can boil the leaves by themselves, many prefer to mingle them with complementary herbs like mint, rosemary or ginger. The tea can also be used to add a spicy, flavorful kick to fresh fruit or vegetable juices. Additionally, you can use basil water as an unusual base for vegetable broths.

Basil in Homemade Beauty Concoctions

Basil is best known as a curative for problem skin, so creating a mask made of basil leaf tea mixed with a gentle base like coconut oil may help to cure dry or acne prone skin. Many feel that a thickly brewed tea, when used by itself, may be beneficial in eliminating dark spots. Additionally, this herb can be mixed with toothpaste to help get rid of bad breath, or mingled with henna to create a rich, natural hair dye.

Basil in Recipes

Though the other methods may be more convenient, there is no denying that basil is at its best when served in a beautifully prepared dish. This herb is often used in rich Italian dishes, paired with veal or beef, torn and mixed into dressings or placed over salads. If you love the taste of basil, but have never cooked with it before, give this dreamy recipe a go:

Tomato, Olive and Basil Pasta


Ingredients:


1/3 cup of fresh basil leaves

1 pound of wheat pasta of your choice

2 pounds of fresh, plump tomatoes

1/2 cup of sliced black olives

1/2 cup of olive oil

2 cloves of fresh, minced garlic

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of oregano

Steps:


1. Wash your tomatoes and garlic thoroughly, then dice the tomatoes into thick chunks and the garlic into tiny, crushed pieces.

2. Mix the tomato chunks and fresh garlic with the black olives, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil and other spices. Make sure everything is well mingled, then let it marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.

3. Boil up your chosen pasta, rinse in cool water, and drain.

4. Mix your freshly cooked pasta with your tomato concoction, then sprinkle with parmesan and feta cheeses.

For an extra nutritional boost, add a bit of extra fresh basil on top of your newly prepared dish.


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