This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Ocimum, Bafilicum, Herba regia. Basil: a plant, with square stalks; oval leaves set in pairs; and long spikes of labiated flowers, whose upper lip is divided into four parts, the lower entire: the cup also has two lips, one cut into four sections, the other into two.
1. Ocimum vulgatius C. B. Ocymum medium citratum Ger. Ocimum Bafilicum Linn. Common or citron basil: with most of the leaves indented, and the flower-cups edged with fine hairs.
2. Ocimum caryophyllatum: Ocimum minimum C. B. & Linn. Small or bush basil: with uncut leaves.
Both these plants are natives of the eastern countries, and sown annually in our gardens for culinary as well as medicinal uses. The seeds, which rarely come to perfection in this climate, especially those of the second sort, are brought from Italy and the south of France.
The leaves of basil are accounted mildly balsamic: infusions of them are sometimes drank as tea in catarrhous and uterine disorders, and the dry leaves in substance made an ingredient in cephalic and sternutatory powders. They are very juicy, of a weakly aromatic and very mucilaginous taste, and of a strong smell, which is somewhat disagreeable when the herbs are fresh, but is improved by drying: those of the first sort approach to the lemon scent, those of the second to that of cloves. Distilled with water, they yield a considerable quantity of essential oil, of a penetrating fragrance, commended by Hoffman as a nervine, similar, but greatly fuperiour, to oil of marjoram (a).