Basil (Ocimum basilicum), also called great basil, is a culinary herb of the Lamiaceae family (mints).

Basil is native to tropical regions from central Africa to Southeast Asia. It is used in culinary practice worldwide, fresh and dried. The type used commonly as a seasoning is typically called sweet basil (or Genovese basil), as opposed to Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), lemon basil (O. × citriodorum), and holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum). 

Culinary uses

Basil is most commonly used fresh in recipes. In general, it is added last, as It is very delicate and the flavor is easily destroyed with heat. Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto, an Italian sauce with olive oil and parmesan cheese. It is also an essential ingredient in the popular Italian-American marinara sauce.

Thai basil is used in south asian stir fries and as garnish in soups. In Taiwan, people add fresh basil leaves to thick soups. They also eat fried chicken with deep-fried basil leaves. Basil (most commonly Thai basil) is commonly steeped in cream or milk to create a unique flavor in ice cream or chocolates (such as truffles). The leaves are not the only part of basil used in culinary applications, the flower buds have a more subtle flavor and they are edible.

Medicinal uses

Basil is used topically and through ingestion to aid ailments of many kinds and promote good health. Basil is used for stomach spasms, loss of appetite, intestinal gas, kidney conditions, fluid retention, head colds, warts, and worm infections. It is also used to treat snake and insect bites. Women sometimes use basil before and after childbirth to promote blood circulation, and also to start the flow of breast milk. Some people use it as a gargle.