10 Uses for Basil Leaf

10 great ways to use Basil leaf for health and cooking

Basil has taken over my garden so I am in the process of preserving and storing it now. Fortunately, it can be used for so much more than just cooking!

Basil is most known for its culinary uses and if you have used my meal plans, you’ve probably noticed that I add it to everything. My husband’s Italian heritage has rubbed off on me and I absolutely love the sweet and fragrant addition of Basil.

What isn’t as well know are the various other herbal uses of Basil. It is a traditional remedy that has been used in various cultures for hundreds of years for many uses besides cooking. These are my top uses:

  1. Basil Pesto– This culinary use is one of Basil’s most popular uses and variations of this are used in cultures around the world. At our house, we add pesto to everything from eggs, to meats, to slices of fresh cucumber. Here’s my recipe.
  2. General Cooking– Dried basil can be easily added to practically any dish. Basil is used around the world in many different cuisines with good reason. It adds a depth and flavor that is not rivaled by other herbs. I make a homemade spice blend that includes basil and add it to practically anything.
  3. Calming the Stomach– The Italians may be on to something with adding Basil to everything. It is thought to have a calming effect on the stomach and 1/2 teaspoon of dried or fresh Basil Leaf in water can often help sooth indigestion and alleviate feelings of fullness.
  4. Coughing and Colds– I’ve heard several Amish in our area suggest using Basil leaf to help alleviate coughing and colds. They chew fresh leaves to calm coughing or make a calming tea of dried basil to help sooth illness.
  5. Facial Steam for Headache: A facial steam with dried basil leaf can help alleviate a headache. Add a tablespoon of dried basil leaf to 2 cups of boiling water in a large pot. Carefully lean over the pot, cover head with a towel and breathe in the steam for 5-10 minutes until headache starts to subside. Bonus, you get to smell like an Italian restaurant for the rest of the day!
  6. Antibiotic properties: According to Mountain Rose Herbs: “European scientists are investigating the use of basil oil as treatment for antibiotic resistant infections with Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, and Pseudomonas.”
  7. Stings and Bites: If you are working outside and get bitten or stung by an insect and don’t have any Plantain growing nearby, chewing up a basil leaf and applying to the bite will help relieve the pain and draw out the venom.
  8. Ear Infections: According to Mountain Rose Herbs: “The essential oil is antibacterial, and drops of basil oil may relieve ear infections.”
  9. Blood sugar: There is some evidence that Basil can help level out blood sugar if consumed regularly and drank as a juice or tea.
  10. Stress Reduction: One herbalist I know suggests adding 2 cups of strong Basil Leaf tea to a warm bath to help reduce stress and facilitate relaxation.

If you use Basil as much as we do, I definitely recommend growing it or buying it in bulk to save money.

Do you grow Basil? How do you use it? Share below!

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  1. How in the heck did you read my mind? I’ve been wanting to really delve in to learning about culinary and medicinal uses of common herbs and flowers, and just today looked at my exploding basil Plants and said decided it was the perfect place to start. Great timing!

  2. I have a (potted) basil plant that I’m growing right now. I usually just eat it with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes (my favorite summer treat). Now that I know of some medicinal properties I may start using it more in non-food ways.

    • Yes! I threw some seeds in a pot on my window sill and they took off immediately the next day. Fresh and prolific herb and now some new ways to utilize it! Yay 🙂

    • It is also good to use in hormonal disorder

  3. How do you go about preserving and storing it?  Thanks.  

    • I usually just hang it to dry and then crumble by hand to use as bay leaf. I also make pesto and freeze in ice cube trays for recipes.

      •  Basil isn’t bay leaf. Different plant.

    • I pick off the leaves from the temps and put them on paper towels. Then, I microwave them for
      1:45 to 2:00 minutes. They become crisp and can be crumbled and put in a plastic bag or jar.

      • My mom says its unnatural dry in sunlight to keep its essence

    • Just dry thdry take paper or a piece of a cloth, lay leaves onto it and dry in sunlight.

  4. i have regular basil and purple basil. someone gave me the purple basil plant and im not sure what to do with it. im so excited to learn that basil has medicinal properties 🙂 thank you wellness mama!!!

  5. My mom made basil tea for us when we had bellyaches!

  6. Brilliant! I have got an abundance of basil leaves growing happily at my window. How do I make basil oil and basil tea? All recipes welcome… thanks, Lynda

    • Making basil tea is easy
      1 Jar with lid
      1/2 cup (or so) fresh basil leaves
      Water to fill jar
      Cover and place jar in a sunny location (safely)
      When ‘tea’ is dark remove leaves
      Sweeten with honey or sweet leaf
      Add lemon slices if desired
      Drink cold or hot

    • you can make basil oil by:
      crushing a few leaves then putting it into balsamic vinigar and leave it in for a week!!!

    • Hi! I just put 2 fresh leaves to my cupnof hot water and presto, basil leaf tea ready to serve.

  7. Good Information

  8. How do you make your spice blend?

  9. I was reading your notes on the uses of the Basil leaf and also the comments on the various people writing in, all of which I found most interesting and informative. I love herbs and love learning more about them as I use them all the time!
    I would like to add another use of the marvelous, versatile Basil herb – it keeps cockroaches out of an abode! I live in South Africa and behold there has not been one flat I have lived in that did not have cockroaches, whether just a few or many. (Houses have ants, flats have cockroaches!)

    Now, how I discovered this wondrous fact was when I bought two Basil plants, towards the end of autumn last year; (the time when cockroaches go into hibernation). When we were well into summer at the beginning of this year it suddenly dawned on me one morning that I had not seen one cockroach since last summer! It did take a little while for me to realise it was because of the Basil plants! I had read in one of my herb books that if you plant Basil in between your veggies they keep the insects away, and putting the two together (living in a flat you don’t have a garden mind-set) took this little while. Well, this has been a truly great find for now my home has the wonderful Basil fragrance for I have Basil all over my kitchen and home!

    Hope this may be of help to someone out there as I have been sharing this with all I come across who live in a flat and have trouble with cockroaches.

    Happy blessings to you all!

    • YAY!!! so thankful for this post… i now have basil all over my house as i have read it will help with flies… and now you say cockroaches too!?! bonus! thanks for tip!

    • Thank you for this info. I also live in SA and will surely get Basil for the house. I live on a plot/smallholding, so this info. will be of great benefit to me. Thanks again 🙂

    • Toni,
      I have never had a roach in my 2 houses, but if you want to kill ALL of them, you need to use BORIC ACID POWER. The name product, if you have it, is HARRIS (since 1922) Boric Acid Roach Power with LURE. Kills Roaches, Palmetto Bugs, Water bugs,, Silverfish, etc. The Roach will carry the acid power back to the nest, and all the Roaches will DIE! When they walk thru the power, they’ will pass the acid to the rest of their family, and ALL will die. Just place it in small containers in corner’s, cabinets, inside & outside your place! Keep it where kids can’t play in it! It is a safe product to use. Anyway have a great day. God Bless You. Take care Toni.

  10. Is there a difference between basil from the grocery store and holy basil from the health food store?

  11. I read that basil can help boost libido and fertility. Is that accurate?

  12. How often does a reply appear? I am interested in answers to some of the questions posted in comment section. Thank you.

    • I try to keep up with comments but it seems I’ve missed a few. What specific things are you wanting answers to?

      • When using basil is this all basils? sweet is the one I think most use in cooking I read holy basil was the healing basil?

        • This post refers to sweet basil, but Holy Basil or Tulsi has a lot of benefits as well

  13. I read that roaches don’t like the basil scent. A natural way to repel indoor roaches. I haven’t tried this yet.

  14. thanks to you all ,I’m having 3 feet tall basil plant s in 4 pots ,v worship it daily as it is only plant which gives oxygen for all 24 hrs .

  15. Crazy as it sounds but I take a leaf out of my basil plant and put it into my 8 oz. bottled water and it makes it just a little less bland.

  16. Thanks for this wonderful information about basil plant, Pls can basil cure hypetension (high blood presure)? and is basil good for pregnant women?

    • We grind basil leaves add pepper and fresh fish to make pepper soup to give appetite when you have malaria fever. We drink mashed basil leaves to relieve stomach upsets such as constipation. We chew fresh basil leaves to relief cough, catarh and cold. I love basil leaves pepper soup. The leaves are in abundance in my compound in Benin city Nigeria. It is locally called Ebamwonkhor in Benin language.

  17. Basil is also a nice addition to a gin and tonic.

  18. I’m a Ghanaian, we use basil leaves as spice in making of chicken soup and it gives the soup a nice flavour.

    • Simon Nyantakyi, am also a Ghanaian is it the ‘Ak)kou b3saa’ which is being refered to as the basil leaf ?….please answer me ok.thanks.

      • Mabel Yes it is. It’s that leaf.

  19. I’m so glad to find your site, I love growing herbs and flowers, really good information. Thank you

  20. I grow basil swèet using hydroponic system. It grow far more fastest than using soil. I dried the leaves by putting it on top of my oven while I am baking. It will become dried and I will store it in jar so that I can use it later by sprinkling onto pasta or my homemade pizzas.

  21. Thank you so much for all the information… I have a few basil plants and planned just today to plant more and arrange them on the side of the house because we love chicken pesto… now I am excited to use it in our lemon grass tea which I grow in my garden, too… And buy pots for indoors… Again, thank you so much.

  22. I really love this amazing plant …I’ve planted it all over our backyard and it smells great in the night time.

  23. i am growing basil in my 1st p.d class in school

  24. bassil has brighten my garden ….

  25. Very useful information.

  26. I have picked and placed all the leaves in my freezer for use in meals. the tea’s sound great. I used the flowers and the stems in a bowel. I added virgin olive oil and steamed for several days. I then took the bowel of herb and oil, which now has more liquid cause of the steaming. placed in a dutch oven and boiled. I then put this product back into the glass bowel I had cleaned and used for the steam bath. Which took all the steam water out of it. I now have a layer of essential good oil floating on the top and a lot of dirty? oil taking up most of the bowl. I keep skimming off what I perceive to be good oil. I came up with this on my own as I have no pressure cannery and coiled cooper to make what I have researched on the internet. So my question is, after removing the small layer on the top for the essential oil. Is the bottom part of all that oil I see as dirty any good to use for anything?

  27. I crush fresh leaves and rub it all over my dog. He smells much better.

  28. I have been looking for dis Basil leaf for a very long tym here in Ghana but i dont know where to find some, pls can someone help

  29. Cool, useful information.

  30. Ok I know many of you are going to think I’m crazy… Lol. I am a smoker and smoke around a pack or more a day. About a month ago I had cut down to 8 a day but like always something stressed me out and now am back to where I was. My point… When I pray i ask God to give me the will power to quit. Well last night when I was asking God to help me quit…All of a sudden I saw this green bottle and it was labeled basil? I never use basil so has me wondering if this was a sign from God telling me basil leaves will help me quit smoking? Since I never use basil this is the only thing I can come up with.Has anyone ever heard tell of basil leaves helping you stop smoking?

  31. Drying basil flower heads now. Placing in fabric sheer bags. I’m excited to try and just throw in tub for bath. They smell so nice I’m hoping it will make a nice potpourri bag for closets and drawers as well. Thanks for the tips!

  32. Drying basil flower heads now. Placing in fabric sheer bags. I’m excited to try and just throw in tub for bath. They smell so nice I’m hoping it will make a nice potpourri bag for closets and drawers as well. Thanks for the tips!

  33. Please which leave is basil.