Spring has arrived in the NorthWest, bringing the West Nile virus with it, so I conducted some research on how to protect myself and my dogs from it.

One main challenge seems to be keeping mosquitoes away, and basil is a plant that insects despise.

Basil originated in India and is still considered sacred by Hindus. It is cultivated around Krishna’s temples, and for protection, a bouquet of basil is placed on the deceased’s breast.

Basil made its way to Egypt some 4,000 years ago, when it was burnt with myrrh to please the gods. Basil wreath remnants have been discovered in Egyptian graves.

Basil arrived in Europe about the 12th century, eventually making its way to England circa 1600. For a long time, basil has both a good and a bad image.

One side equated it with the basilisk, whose breath and gaze could kill, and this is where the term is said to have originated. Some people thought that just smelling basil allowed a scorpion to nest in the brain. Others thought it provided bravery and vigor, as well as drawing toxins from the body.

The debate seemed to be mostly between the Greeks, who disliked it, and the Romans, who adored it. Pliny, a Roman naturalist, said that it relieved flatulence, which contemporary pharmacology supports.

Basil oil has been added to wash water for hundreds of years to give it a pleasant smell, and it is still used in certain fragrances today.

Sweet basil is said to have the sweetest taste of any basil variety, and it is the most regularly grown for today’s culinary market. The majority of sweet basil planted in the United States is in California, although it is also grown commercially in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Sweet basil is one of America’s favorite herbs for a reason. It may be used in a variety of raw and cooked foods, including salads, soups, vegetables, poultry, and meat, although tomato-based recipes benefit the most from a few leaves of sweet basil.

Basil not only adds taste to a meal, but it also helps the digestive system by promoting the formation of bile and stomach acid secretions. Basil soothes an upset stomach, relieves nausea, and is thought to prevent peptic ulcers and other stress-related diseases such as hypertension.

Basil is a cooling plant, therefore it may be used to prevent or treat fever. For headaches, apply the oil to the temples.

Basil also has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and fungicidal effects. Its leaves may be used to treat itchy skin, bug bites, and other skin issues. It is largely important in medicine for its ability to lower blood sugar levels. Several publications even recommend basil for food poisoning and liver decongestion.

Basil grows best when sown inside. Because it is sensitive to cold weather, it should not be planted outside until nighttime temperatures reach 50 degrees. Basil need warmth and a rich, wet soil to thrive. So a spot in the sun, a soil rich in compost or well-aged manure, and frequent watering will help it grow abundantly. It is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes and peppers. It protects tomatoes from a variety of insects and diseases, and it grows in similar circumstances as peppers. Tomatoes are also mosquito-repellent plants.

Basil is finest harvested in the morning, when the dew has evaporated from the leaves but the heat of the day has not yet reached the plant. Harvesting on a regular basis promotes growth.

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