WARNING: the foods we cook for Abby are safe for her, but not necessarily for everyone. Please confirm any ingredients are safe for you before using in your diet. Food Allergies can kill and the best policy is complete avoidance. Read this post for more info.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holy Basil

I have run across a few people now that swear by using Holy Basil for reducing inflammation or for cold and flu symptoms. Considering we are huge fans of basil and you will find fresh thai basil(minty tones), sweet basil, regular basil at any given time in my kitchen, how can I resist another basil?

First though, is it safe? What does it taste like? Can I grow it? Where do I buy it?

From WebMD-

Holy basil is a plant. It is originally from India and is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an “adaptogen” to counter life’s stresses. It is considered a sacred plant by the Hindus and is often planted around Hindu shrines. The Hindu name for holy basil, Tulsi, means "the incomparable one." Medicine is made from the leaves, stems, and seeds.

Holy basil is used for the common cold, influenza ("the flu"), H1N1 (swine) flu, diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, earache, headache, stomach upset, heart disease, fever, viral hepatitis, malaria, and tuberculosis. It is also used for mercury poisoning, to promote longevity, as a mosquito repellent, and to counteract snake and scorpion bites.

Holy basil is applied to the skin for ringworm.

In cooking, holy basil is often added to stir-fry dishes and spicy soups because of its peppery taste. Cookbooks sometimes call it "hot basil."

How does it work?
Chemicals in holy basil are thought to decrease pain and swelling (inflammation). Other chemicals might lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.

There is interest in using holy basil seed oil for cancer. Beginning research suggests that the oil can slow progression and improve survival rate in animals with certain types of cancer. Researchers think this benefit may be explained by the oil’s ability to act as an antioxidant.

That sounded promising. So dug a little deeper-

Found this PDF

Then on the Internet Rx list- Are there safety concerns?
Holy basil might be safe when used for short periods of time, up to four weeks. It's not known if long-term use is safe.

Do not take holy basil if:
You are pregnant or breast-feeding.
You are scheduled for surgery in the next two weeks. Holy basil might increase the risk of bleeding.

So, seems pretty safe. Been used in India forever..

Found this on growing and cooking from the Gourmet Food Source website-
How to Grow

Holy basil should be treated exactly the same as Mediterranean basil, I sow mine in late spring ready for cutting in early June. Like any other basil it thrives in a warm, sunny and sheltered position with moist soil. I pinch out the flowering heads to encourage bushier growth and cut back quite hard if the plant becomes too leggy.

How to Cook

Holy basil is both hot and sharp to the taste, tear off a little piece and try it before cooking so as to best gauge how much you think you will need. As mentioned I use it for chilli hot stir-fries and curries rather than soups or salads for which I prefer to use the less sharp Thai basil. Either leave the leaves whole or tear them with your hands and add towards the end of cooking to preserve its unique flavour and give the finished dish a pungent but fresh taste. If a recipe calls for Thai or Holy basil and you do not have any then do not be tempted to substitute it for Mediterranean basil, they are quite different.

Found even organic seeds on Amazon. Of course, Amazon sells everything!

Have the seeds in my shopping cart- and fingers crossed I have basil growing like mad in a few months.


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