Basil is used in both its fresh and dried forms. Sweet basil is the type most commonly used in cooking; it is balancing for Vata and Kapha, as well as for Pitta when used in lesser quantities. It is a warming herb, and contributes the sweet, bitter and pungent tastes. Holy basil is more therapeutic and is used in many Maharishi Ayurveda herbal products. This variety balances Vata and Kapha but increases Pitta.
Basil and holy basil are used in ayurveda to maintain and promote the long-term health of the respiratory tract. Basil tea can help clear shleshma from the lungs and the respiratory area. It is also used to settle stomach disorders and to enhance digestion. A mild natural sleep aid, basil enhances the quality of sleep. Oil of basil promotes mental clarity and is frequently a part of stimulating, Kapha-balancing aroma oil blends. A holy basil plant grown in your home is said to keep it free of garavisha — environmental toxins.
Dried basil is aromatic and is used to flavor soups and stews. It is potent, so use small quantities for a more subtle flavor. The dried leaves can be combined with lemon juice, powdered dry roasted cumin, black pepper and a little salt to make a dressing for a salad using cooked beans or vegetables.