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This nOde last updated November 9th, 2003 and is permanently morphing...
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1. An Old World aromatic annual herb (Ocimum basilicum) in the mint family, cultivated for its leaves, which are a popular seasoning. Also called sweet basil.
2. Any of various plants in the genus Ocimum, native to warm regions, having aromatic foliage and terminal clusters of small, usually white flowers.
[Middle English, from Old French basile, from Medieval Latin basilicum, from Greek basilikon, from neuter of basilikos, royal. BASILICA.]
basil, tender herb or small shrub (genus Ocimum) of the MINT family, cultivated for the aromatic leaves. Common, or sweet, basil (O. basilicum) is used for seasoning. Holy basil and bush basil are related plants.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil comes from India, but has been cultivated in the Mediterranean for thousands of years and is now also grown in North Africa. The genus name Ocimum is probably from the Greek word "to smell." Once made into cleansing water for the hands and feet, it provides modern perfumes and soaps with an inexpensive substitute for mignonette (lily of the valley). The basils are so diverse in their scents, it has been suggested that they be classified according to chemistry instead of botany. You need to grow your own to have a complete collection, since only a few types are distilled. You can have fun home-distilling a variety of spicy, citrus and fruity basils into hydrosols.
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Extraction: Distilled from the leaf and flowering tops. The scent is sweet and spicy.
Medicinal Action: The scent relieves headaches, sinus congestion, head colds and resulting loss of smell. Basil treats herpes, shingles, nausea (even from chemotherapy), indigestion and sore muscles. Basil hormonally stimulates adrenals, menstruation, childbirth and production of breast milk.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: Used for oily skin conditions.
Emotional Attribute: Basil's uplifting effect overcomes a lack of confidence, indecisiveness, negative thoughts, stress, rattled nerves, hysteria and mental fatigue. It is said to increase awareness of one's surroundings.
Considerations: Large dosages can be overstimulating and may eventually stupefy.
Reunion Basil (O. basilicum) --This variation from the Comoro and R‚union Islands (hence its name) has a harsher, more herbal scent. It flavors food and dental products. It contains very little linalol, but has 70-88 percent methyl chavicol, a skin irritant, so use carefully.
East Indian Basil (O. gratissimum) --Chemotypes of this East Indian species supply high percentages of thymol or eugenol.
Hairy Basil (O. canum) --From East Africa, this basil is delightfully spicy because of its high content of methyl cinnamate and camphor.
Toni Basil was one of new wave's ultimate one-hit wonders, falling completely off the musical radar screen after topping the charts with the ubiquitous cheerleader-chant single "Mickey." Chiefly a choreographer, Basil was born Antonia Christina Basilotta in Philadelphia (sources listing her birth date range from 1943 to 1950) and attended high school in Las Vegas, where -- unsurprisingly -- she was a member of the cheerleading squad. After high school, she became a go-go dancer and quickly moved into choreography, working on '60s television shows like Shindig and The T.A.M.I. Show; in 1964, she appeared with Annette Funicello in the film Pajama Party, which she also choreographed. In 1966, Basil released her first single, the Graham Gouldman-penned "28"; the B-side was her recording of the title song from avant-garde filmmaker Bruce Conner's Breakaway, in which she also appeared as a dancer. Basil's acting career soon hit a peak with her role in 1969's landmark _Easy Rider_ (vhs/pal)(1969 )as a New Orleans hooker; she went on to appear with Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces and Dennis Hopper in The Last Movie. During the '70s, she choreographed films like _American Graffiti_ (vhs/pal)(1973) and The Rose, and also worked on David Bowie's 1974 concert tour.
In the late '70s, Basil formed her own urban-style dance troupe, the Lockers, and moved into music video directing as well, helming the groundbreaking Talking Heads clip for "Once in a Lifetime." In 1981, she signed to Chrysalis as a recording artist and cut her debut album, Word of Mouth. Among the tracks was "Mickey," a song penned by the Mike Chapman/Nicky Chinn songwriting team (Sweet, Pat Benatar, etc.); it was originally titled "Kitty" and recorded by a group called Racey. Word of Mouth had been out for some time when "Mickey" finally began climbing the charts in Britain, eventually peaking at number two; a few months later, helped along by Basil's self-directed, cheerleader-themed video, "Mickey" hit number one in America and became an inescapable pop culture phenomenon. Basil wasn't so lucky with the follow-up singles, however; "Shoppin' From A to Z" and "Over My Head" only scraped the lower reaches of the charts, and her eponymously titled 1983 album stiffed. Basil returned to her earlier careers, taking occasional acting roles and choreographing for film, television, and commercials. Among her more notable assignments included the films Delirious, That Thing You Do, and My Best Friend's Wedding.