Sweet basil (ocimum basilicum) is one of the most familiar and widely grown varieties of basil with strong licorice flavor used in many Italian dishes. Native to India, this variety of basil has spread across the world and is now cultivated in almost every country where temperatures are temperate or tropical.
The leaves of sweet basil are light green, silky, and more large and broad compared to other varieties of basil. In the late summer, beautiful small white flowers will bloom which add flair to the plant.
Sweet basil is used in many Mediterranean and Thai dishes where a sweeter flavor is preferred over a bitter taste. The flavor of sweet basil is peppery with a complex mixture of a sweet and spicy aroma. The flavor contains notes of cloves, from a chemical known as eugenol, and anise.
Sweet basil contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, fiber, magnesium, and potassium. It has been used to treat ailments and other medical conditions including fevers, ear infections, headaches, asthma, and sinus congestion. It is also known for its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties.
When leaves are added to hot water to create a tea, the stomach and lungs become calm. The oil of sweet basil contains elevated amounts of camphor that has been known to help suppress bacteria and fungi. Studies have also shown sweet basil to lower levels of cholesterol
The oil of sweet basil is commonly used commercially for perfumes, shampoos, cosmetics, and for flavorings.