Basil is originally a native of Iran, India and other tropical regions of Asia, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years. The word Basil comes from the Greek and means 'King' as it is believed to have grown above the spot where St. Constantine and Helen discovered the Holy Cross.
Basil is best known as an added herb to various dishes. It needs to only be added at the last moment though as cooking too long generally destroys the flavour.It can be dried or kept fresh for a short time in plastic bags in the fridge or for a longer period in the freezer if it has been blanched first.
On the medicinal side various medical studies have established that compounds in the various basil oils have powerful antioxidant, anti-cancer, antiviral, and anti-microbial properties. It is also traditionally used for supplementary treatment of stress, asthma and diabetes in some countries.
Basil repels many pests to the tomato plant and makes the tomatoes taste better as well.