Alibi V.13 No.26 • June 24-30, 2004 

Gastrological Forecast

If you're thinking of trying out the basil remedy for cramps then you ought to consider growing your own basil plants. Much of the fresh basil found in grocery stores is a different variety, normally called sweet basil. Holy basil is native to Asia and is the familiar flavor found in Thai dishes. The name holy basil comes from the sacred status of the herb in Ayurvedic traditions; many researchers claim that holy basil has higher concentrations of the active ingredients. Look in the herb section at the nursery and examine the plant tags carefully, looking for the word holy or the Latin name, ocimum sanctum. Holy basil is available with red or green leaves that have jagged edges; other varieties have smooth-edged leaves. This stuff has a much more pungent aroma and flavor but there's no reason you can't use it in recipes that call for the regular kind. Try filling a big pot with a combination of red and green plants. Pinch off the flowers when they come up and you'll have leaves at least until the winter.