Field basil




Dr. Victor Modval - lecturer in ayurveda

Field basil (Prunella vulgaris) is part of the Labiatae and is a medicinal plant known in various folk traditions for its complex beneficial effects, useful in a very wide range of conditions that it relieves or even cures. Recent studies have confirmed its particular therapeutic value.

Field basil, also called wild basil, is found in Europe, Asia and North America, from lowland to subalpine regions, preferring fertilizer-rich areas and neutral or alkaline soils. In our country, field basil is a common plant in woodlands, along pathsides, clearings and along waterfronts. It is a perennial with purple flowers that bloom in June-August. The aerial part of the plant is used for medicinal purposes.

Field basilIn Romanian folk medicine, wild basil is traditionally used mainly as a remedy with astringent properties (anti-inflammatory, antidiarrheal, haemostatic and healing), being used successfully (internally or externally, depending on the case) in the treatment of various inflammatory diseases (such as tonsillitis), diarrhoea, haemorrhages, wounds. It is also used for coughs, asthma, dermatoses, fever and jaundice.

In traditional Chinese medicine it is believed to act on the Liver, Gall Bladder and Lung meridians. Thus, this herb is successfully used to treat cancer, diabetes and H.I.V. infection.

The Amerindians used this plant to improve eyesight and treat various eye conditions; they used to brew tea from basil roots, which they then consumed in ceremonies before going hunting. The potion improved their eyesight and sharpened their senses.

In Western medicine, field basil is also known to be useful in stopping haemorrhages and treating heart disease; externally, as a poultice, the herb is indicated for soothing minor wounds, burns, irritations, scratches and insect bites.

Before World War II, basil was used as a leaf stew as a remedy for sore throat (redness in the throat) or to stop internal bleeding.

Scientific studies have been carried out for some important therapeutic actions of field basil.

Thus, it has been shown that this plant has antiviral action (on herpes viruses HSV1 and HSV2, HIV and hepatitis B virus), antibacterial (active on E. Colli), anticancer, antiestrogenic, antiallergic, antihyperglycemic (being effective in treating diabetes), photoprotective (protects against UV radiation), immunomodulatory and thyroid modulator.

According to studies, it inhibits the multiplication of herpes viruses type 1 and type 2 (HSV1 and HSV2), including acyclovir-resistant strains, which helps reduce skin lesions. Alcoholic extracts of wild basil also reduce the infectivity of these viruses and have a preventive role. The plant also has a significant anti-HIV action compared to other plants tested and anti-HBV (hepatitis B virus).

In 2008-2009 the anti-cancer action was scientifically studied. This is due to compounds with cytotoxic (e.g. triterpenoid acids) and cytostatic (able to induce the death of cancer cells in vitro or stop their proliferation) potential that wild basil contains.

Studies on the anti-estrogenic action of wild basil (Collins 2009) recommend it in the treatment of estrogen-dependent diseases such as endometriosis, breast cancer or uterine cancer.

Immunomodulatory action (both immunostimulatory and immunosuppressive) has also been demonstrated. Aqueous basil extract has been found to activate phagocytosis, the process by which specialised cells annihilate ('engulf') foreign agents in the body, including infectious ones, while also having anti-inflammatory properties.

In a study conducted in China (Zang, 2007) on patients with thyroid goiter (hyper-, hypo-, and euthyroid), it was shown that the herb has thyroid modulating action and potentiates the effect of classical treatment in all subgroups of patients.

The very wide range of therapeutic uses of field basil is also due to its rich content of betulinic acid, camphor, delphinidin, hyperoside, manganese, oleanolic acid, rosmarinic acid, ursolic acid and various tannins. Thus, we can also add that field basil has been described as having antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, vermifuge and tonic properties. It is also known that this plant, consumed daily, improves cognitive abilities and is useful in chronic degenerative diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's dementia.

Forms of administration:

  • The herb can be taken as a dry powder. One gram (about one level teaspoon) of the powder should be held under the tongue for 10 minutes, then swallowed with a little water. It is recommended to use one gram four times a day.Field basil
  • Basil can also be eaten as a cold macerate. One teaspoon of the plant will macerate in a cup of water at room temperature for 6-8 hours. You can drink 4 cups a day, possibly sweetened with honey.
  • The plant can also be used as an alcoholic extract.
  • For external use, cold macerated washes of the injured area can be used, or poultices or even fresh herbs applied to the site. Basil creams can be prepared using cold-pressed oil or clarified butter.
  • Basil can be used not only for medicinal purposes, but also in gastronomy, in delicious dishes. Salads, soups, stews or porridges can be made with basil as an ingredient.