Basil is used to treat stomach cramps, vomiting, fevers, colds, flu, headaches, whooping cough, and menstrual pains. It is also used to reduce stomach acid, making it an important part of any treatment for ulcers, and a valuable addition to any recipe using tomatoes for those with sensitive stomachs. Externally, it can be used for insect bites to draw out the poisons, by using mashed fresh leaves as a poultice. It has been used in remedies to eliminate worms from the intestines, and the oil from basil leaves, diluted with a carrier oil, is applied directly to the skin to treat acne, arthritis, gout, and to treat skin abrasions. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy to aid mental clarity and to calm the nerves. Pregnant women should not use basil or the essential oil of basil.
Basil will grow in any well-drained, fairly rich soil, and full sun. It can be grown throughout most of North America. It is an annual, which reaches 2-3 feet tall. Pinch off the tips to promote bushiness and flower buds and to maintain growth. Grow it alongside your tomatoes to aid the tomato harvest.