Uses for Basil

Learn about historic uses for basil and how you can incorporate basil varieties into different recipes today.

| April/May 2012

  • Today, aromatherapists use basil for massage and scented baths. It is also an antidepressant, antispasmodic, tonic, stimulant, nervine and carminative.
    Photo by yukibockle
  • Lemon basil’s sweet citrus flavor is great for potpourri as well as culinary uses with fish and fruits.
    Photo by H. Zell
  • This familiar garden basil is great for pesto and preserving. Numerous cultivars are available, each with a different flavor.
    Photo by Lasse Kristensen
  • More than 150 basil varities are grown worldwide, such as this Thai basil variety. The plant is thought to be native to India and is very popular in Mediterranean cooking.
    Photo by jayjayoo7_com/iStockphoto

I admit it. I’m prejudiced. You could even say I’m a fanatic. I’m in the business of growing herbs, and basil is by far my favorite. It touches my most basic instincts: eating pesto stimulates my most visceral needs; smelling basil makes me euphoric. Touching its sleek leaves makes me wish I could write poetry. The magic of those simple plant cells all linked together humbles me—the art of it all, so understated and still so quietly absorbing. And I’m not alone.

Basil is one of the most popular and sought-after herbs today, in the herb garden as well as in the kitchen. It’s easy to grow when it gets what it needs—plenty of sunlight, warmth, regular food and water, and pruning to keep it productive.

Recipes with Basil

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Bruschetta
Vegan Basil Pesto
Strawberry Basil Ice Cream 

Learn More About Uses for Basil

Herb Basics: An Introduction to Basil
What's Wrong with My Herbs: Growing Basil Tips 

Uses for Basil Through the Ages

Human use of basil dates back at least to the famous gardens of ancient Babylon. It has been used in wedding rites and lovers’ bowers as well as on the funeral pyre.

In the days before modern medicine, cure-alls frequently contained basil. Basil was used to relieve mental fatigue as well as the romantic Victorian “vapors”; it was recommended for mosquito, scorpion and snake bites. As recently as the early 20th century, camphor basil was grown in volume and distilled for camphorated oil, an important medicinal during both world wars.



May 16-17, 2020
Nashville, Tennessee

Join us in Music City to explore ways to save money and live efficiently. This two-day event includes hands-on workshops and a marketplace featuring the latest homesteading products.


Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me