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HERBS DESCRIPTION: BASIL

by admin - April 2nd, 2009.
Filed under: Herbal. Tagged as: .

Sweet Basil Ocymum basilicum

Bush Basil Ocymum minimum LABIATAE

Basil has been called the king of all the herbs. Its name has been attributed to two different origins, some writers saying it comes from basileus, Greek for “king”, but basilicus—basilisk, the old name for serpent—could refer to its reputation for counteracting poison from the bite or sting of a venomous creature.

The plant originally came from India, where it was sacred to Vishnu and Shiva, and a pot grew in every courtyard. By some, it was called the “herb of poverty”, giving its protection to those poor and in want.

As its use spread into the Mediterranean countries, its legends grew and changed. In Italy, it stood for “love”, and was called “Kiss me, Nicholas”; while in Greece it meant “hate”, and a sprig given to a man meant “Be wary, someone is plotting against you.” The Greeks and Romans very seldom agreed about anything. It also figured in Jewish lore, sprigs of basil being held in the hand to give strength when fasting. All its legendary users agreed that it was its strength that was so impressive.

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