The word "basil" doesn't have an established origin, however, it has been assumed that the name of the herb traces its roots to the ancient Greek word "basileus" translated as "king", another less likely theory attributes the name to the word "basilisk," which was a dangerous fable creature.
In the ancient times there was certain negative connotation in reference to the plant: in Persia basil was planted on graves and ancient Greeks chose this plant to represent hatred and misfortunes. As for its medicinal purposes, old-time doctors could not agree on this issue, some claimed it was pure poison and others attributed magical basil medicinal properties to it. Nevertheless, it was almost instantly accepted as a valuable kitchen herb. It is now used with many different meals: soups, meats, salads, etc. Sweet Basil is an ingredient of the famous Italian green sauce (pesto), which is a very welcome accompaniment for fish, vegetables and pasta. However, when using basil for culinary purposes one should keep in mind that when exposed to heat, vitamins and minerals in basil may considerably diminish, therefore it is better to be added to the meal right before serving it. Basil not only exudes pleasant fragrance that stimulates appetite, it also promotes digestive processes by means of catalyzing the production of saliva.
There are multiple varieties of Basil, namely Bush Basil, Garden Basil and Sweet Basil, and others. There are also such types as, lemon, red, anise, and cinnamon basil. All of the above can be efficiently used for culinary purposes and it is recommended that one should try them all in order to choose the most appealing to one's personal taste.
Despite specific characteristics that certain kinds of Basil, there are some basil medicinal properties that can be equally attributed to the species of basil as a whole. First and foremost, it is of course the unique chemical composition of the plant: it contains a potent essential oil comprising methyl chavicol. Generous portions of folic acid can be found in fresh basil, while dried basil is known to contain considerable amount of potassium, iron and calcium.
Basil is native to semitropical and tropical area of Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East, but it has been very popular both in Europe and Americas from ancient times. And there is a good reason for rendering basil Universal acclaim. Apart from being a universal seasoning herb, it possesses great value for its basil medicinal properties. To name a few, one should start with the following: like other representatives of the mint family, Basil is widely used for its digestive and anti-gas medicinal properties. It is also recommended to be taken internally to cure nausea, vomiting, nausea from chemotherapy (due to basil's antispasmodic basil medicinal properties) as well as nervous headaches, wandering rheumatic pains.
Basil protects the respiratory system and can be used as a cure for nose and throat infections, being an acknowledged remedy for colds and whooping cough. Basil can boost human basil metabolic rate therefore it shouldn't be administered to children. But at the same time along with its exhilarating impact on many body systems it has a sedative effect and can alleviate stress if drank. As a mouthwash it can be a godsend cure for sore gums and added to herbal baths in the form of oil it can chase away depression and insomnia.