Holy Basil — ‘the immaculate one’ — added to garden plan

The hubby and I continue to plant our garden, making modifications from the original plan. I knew I may be up against stiff opposition when I suggested to him that we plant a different type of basil from the traditional Italian sweet basil that he adores.

He looked at me, dirt-stained hands hanging from his sides, with a stare that reminds me of his days terrorizing opponents on the wrestling mat.

So I gingerly started listing the reasons why I wanted to make this change.

“It’s called Holy, like the Holy Spirit?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, sensing an opening. Afterall, he’s the cook and the one with his hands dirty. I’m the brains of the operation — or at least that’s what he tells me. I was messing with about 100 years of tradition on this and I knew it.

“Well, I’ve already planted the other basil, but we can add it,” he said at last, picking up his rake to return to his work.

“Great,” I said. Baby steps.

I am intrigued by this herb and how it is used after reading its history. Holy Basil is said to have spiritual qualities as well as medicinal ones. It’s considered to be the most sacred plant in the Hindu religion, and as a result it is often found growing in courtyards and near temples. It is said to protect those that grow it from misfortune and to sanctify and guide them to heaven. Holy Basil is therefore appropriately called “The Incomparable One.”

Research indicates that Holy Basil offers medicinal qualities, though a lack of scientific evidence confirms these benefits. Holy Basil is considered antiemetic, anticancer, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, sedative, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, analgesic and antiulcer, according to PubMed.org.

Holy Basil is also said to contain powerful antioxidants. Preliminary clinical studies suggests that Holy Basil may have a positive impact on ulcers and blood sugar levels in Type 2 Diabetes. It is also being studied for its positive effect on anxiety/stress and for its prevention of cavities. We don’t have many cavities, but as we’ve written before, we both have our share of anxiety.

Holy Basil can be grown quite easily in either pots or in the ground. It prefers warm soil in direct sunlight. Because it requires full sun it has a tendency to dry out in the hotter summer months, so ensure your plant gets plenty of water during these times. Holy Basil will develop flowers as it grows, however, it is noted that if you allow your plant to flower, it will not affect the potency of the herb.

A tea is the most practical way to use Holy Basil. Cover two teaspoons of fresh leaves with 8 oz of boiling water. Cover and steep for five minutes prior to straining out the leaves and drinking.

My husband will be far more likely to toss into his cooking than make a tea. I’ll try that one.

My interest peaked by the different flavor it may bring to my family’s Italian dishes. (hmmn… I hear the hubby mumble at this idea… which translates into, “I have my doubts.”) Research indicates that Holy Basil has a more peppery taste than our well known Sweet Basil. Finally, since I am always interested in herbs that have a potential to assist in reducing anxiety I will try this to see if it helps in that regard. The spiritual history around Holy Basil also has me interested in growing it on my property. Who doesn’t want to keep misfortune away from their doorstep?

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