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Chap. 046. Of Common Basil.

Botanical name:

Basil, Common Anise. Basil, Common. I. The Names. It is called by the Arabians, Bedarog, Berenddros: in Greek, *********: in Latin , Ocimum, Basilicum, Regium: in English, Basil.

II. The Kinds. The general Kinds are,

  • 1. Garden.
  • 2. Wild.
  • The Garden Basil is,

    • 1. The Common Great, Ocimum Vulgatius. (Ocimum basilicum. -Henriette.)
    • 2. The small or Bush Basil, Ocimum Vulgare minus. (Ocimum basilicum. -Henriette.)
    • 3. Anisated Basil, Ocimum Anisatum, of which in this Chapter. (Ocimum basilicum. -Henriette.)
    • 4. Basil Gentle, or Clove Basil, Ocimum Caryophyllatum.
    • 5. Citron Basil, Ocimum Citratum, of which in the next Chapter.
    • 6. Ocimum Americanum maculatum, Spotted American Basil.
    • 7. Ocimum Americanum Crispum non maculatum, Crisped American Basil not spotted, of which two in Chap. 48.
    • The Wild Basil is either Stone or Field, of which in their proper Places in Chap. 49. and 50.

    III. The Descriptions. The Common Great Basil has a Threaddy and Fibrous Root which perishes at the first approach of Winter, and therefore is to be sown a new every Year if you will have it; from whence rises up usually but one upright Stalk nearly a foot high, variously branching forth it self on all sides, whereon, at every Joint, are set two Leaves, broad, thick, and fat, a little pointed, of a pleasant sweet smell, of a fresh green Colour, and a little snipt about the edges; of which some one here and there, are of a black reddish hue: towards the upper part of the Stalk and Branches come forth a number of small whitish Flowers, which many times tend to a dark purple, with two small Leaves at the Joint, in some places green, in others brown; after the Flowers come small black Seed.

    IV. The Small Bush Basil, has a Fibrous perishing Root much like the former , from whence rises up small tender Stalks, which grow not so high as the former, but is thicker spread with Branches, and smaller Leaves thereon, and set closer together; these Leaves are little, less than those of Pennyroyal, and the whole Plant is low, and fine or small, growing into a kind of diminutive Bush, whence the Name of Bush Basil; and is of a more pleasing sweet sent than the former by much: the flowers are small and white, and the Seed black like the other, when it yields Seed with us, which is more seldom, it not often yielding ripe Seed here, because it neither Springs, Flowers, nor Seeds so early as the others. Parkinson adds another middle Kind something larger than this both in the height of the Bush, and magnitude of the Leaves, but not otherwise differing; which to me seems to be one and the same Herb, but differing according to the goodness of the Soil,

    V. The Anisated Basil, Is truely of the self same Kind with our ordinary Garden Basil but of a middle size between the Common Great and Bush Basil, and differs nothing in its Roots, Stalks, Leaves, Flowers, nor Seed, but a little in the magnitude, and something in the smell, which is like the smell of Aniseeds.

    VI. The Places. Whence these Herbs first came, is unknown to us, but in Italy, France, Spain and England, they are only nourished up in Gardens.

    VII. The Times. They Flower in the heat of Summer as in June and July, by little and little, whereby they are long a Flowering, beginning at the top first, and so Flowering as 'twere downwards.

    VIII. The Qualities. They are hot and moist in the second Degree: They incide, attenuate, open, discusses, resolve, concoct, digest, and are carminative and anodyn; being Cephalick, Neurotick, Stomatick, Pectoral, Cardiack, Nephritick, and Uterine: also Emmenagogick, and Alexipharmick.

    IX. The Specification. Schroder says, it is a peculiar thing to cleanse the Lungs, and provoke the Courses in Women.

    X. The Preparations. The Shops make use of,

    • 1. The Leaves.
    • 2. The Seed.
    • 3. And Distil therefrom a Water.

    But you may farther prepare,

      4. A Juice.
    • 5. An Essence.
    • 6. A Spirituous Tincture.
    • 7. A Saline Tincture.
    • 8. An Oily Tincture.
    • 9. A Decoction in Wine.
    • 10. A Syrup.
    • 11. An Oil.
    • 13. A Cataplasm.

    The Virtues.

    XI. The Leaves. Their smell comforts the Brain (whatever some Authors say to the contrary) and were eaten in Galen's time (I suppose as a Sallet,) being cotrected with Oil and Vinegar. Some Authors will have it that they dry up Milk in Womens Breasts, which in my opinion is against their proper Nature, being hot and moist, and therefore more apt to breed Milk.

    XII. The Seed. Being made into a fine Pouder, it may be given from half a dram to i. dram, in Wine, against the Palpitation or Trembling of the Heart, to cheer and comfort the same, and expel Melancholly, or sadness of Mind: It is good also against Poyson and the Stinging of Scorpions.

    XIII. The Distilled Water from the whole Plant. It is good to clear the Eye-sight, and to be used as at Vehicle for the other Preparations.

    XIV. The Juice. If it is put into the Eyes, it takes away their Dimness, and drys up Humors which fall into them; snuft up the Nostrills it causeth Sneezing, and so Purges the Brain: given to j. ounce in a Glass of Generous Canary morning and evening, it provokes Venery, or Lust, and is good for such as are troubled with Heart Qualms, or Swooning Fits, or stoppage or their Terms.

    XV. The Essence. It much exceeds the Juice for Inward uses, being cotrected, and made more Pure or fine, as being freed from its gross and feculent parts. It has the Virtues of the Juice, besides which it is an excellent Stomatick, Cardiack, and Pectoral, freeing the Lungs from the Tartarous Matter which obstruct’s them, and causing thereby a free respiration, and therefore is profitable against Coughs, Colds, Asthma's, and other like Distempers of the Lungs. Dose from j. ounce to ij. ounces in Wine, or Syrup, or some other Pectoral Vehicle, morning and evening.

    XVI. The Spirituous Tincture. It is Stomatick and Cardiack, resists Poison and is good against the stinging of Scorpions, or bitings of other Venomous beasts: prevails against Fainting and Swooning Fits, Sickness at Heart, and is good for such as are troubled with Lethargies, Carus and Apoplexies, and other Cold Diseases of the Head, Brain and Nerves. Dose ij drams or more, in the Distilled Water.

    XVII. The Saline Tincture. It is powerful against Diseases of the Reins, opening their obstructions, and removing the Tartarous and Viscous Matter which affects them. It provokes Urine, expels Sand, Gravel, Slime and Stones out of the Reins and Urinary Passages. It provokes the Terms in Women, and facilitates the Delivery of such as are in Labor, bringing away both Birth and After-birth. Dose from j. to iij. drams in a Glass of White Wine. It is good against the Stinging of Scorpions, and Hornets, biting of mad Dogs and other Venomous Creatures, as also against the Jaundice and Dropsie, carrying off the Morbisick Cause by Urine.

    XVIII. The Oily Tincture. It is singular against the Stone, Sand, Gravel, obstructions of Urine, as also the Yellow Jaundice, Coughs, Colds, Hoarfness, and the like, being taken in the Syrup of the same Herb, from iv. to xij. or xvj. drops: it prevails also against Palsies, Convulsions, Lethargies, Apoplexies, &c. and outwardly anointed it is good against the bitings of mad Dogs, and Pricks, Punctures, or Wounds of the Nerves.

    XIX. The Decoction in Wine. Given from iv. to viij. ounces, it is good against Poyson, the stinging and biting of Venomous Creatures, Paintings, Swoonings, fits of the Mother; provokes the Terms, expels both Birth, and After-birth, as also Sand and Gravel from the Reins and Bladder, and is good against all cold Diseases of the Head, Brain, Nerves, Womb, and Bowels.

    XX. The Syrup of the Juice. It is an admirable Pectoral, good against Coughs, Colds, Asthma's, shortness of Breath, Hoarsness, &c. causing expectoration, and making the Brest and Lungs easy. Dose ij. ounces either alone, or mixt with Alicant, Tent, or Malaga.

    XXI. The Oil. It is made by Boiling the Juice or Bruised Herb with Oil of Mirtles or Roses and Vinegar. Being anointed with, it prevails against Pains of the Head and Nerves, Lethargies, rallies and other cold Diseases of those Pans and eases pains of the ears being dropt into them.

    XXII. The Cataplasm. It is Discussive and Resolutive, good against the beginnings of Phlegmons, or Inflamations in any part of the Body: it is also good to take away black and blew spots of the Skin, discusses Contusions, and ease pain proceeding from any cold Cause.


    Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
    This chapter has been proofread by Nick Jones.



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