Safety of Lemon Basil Seeds and Flowers
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Debra Innis
Posted on: February 23, 2007

I recently bought a lemon basil plant, which is now growing well in the organic garden, and I have cut the first harvest. I dehydrated the leaves and also the seed/flower stalks. The seed/flowers seem to have a lot of little hairs and fuzzy things. Are these seed/flowers safe to use in tea? or will the hairs damage the lining of the esophagus/stomach/intestines? Or are only the leaves safe to steep in hot water for tea?

I don’t know if anyone has proved beyond a shadow of doubt that consuming basil seeds or flowers is always absolutely safe, but I can tell you that I have never heard of anyone having problems ingesting either plant part. In India, a popular drink called falooda is made with water-soaked basil seeds mixed with milk, rose syrup and crushed ice. When soaked in water basil seeds form a soothing gel which helps to make falooda a wonderfully smooth and refreshing drink. And basil flowers are widely regarded to be an edible flower and are commonly added to salads for both flavour and colour.

Among the many species and varieties of basil on the market there are those with more hairs than others. But even the hairier varieties do not appear to cause problems as far as I know. But having said that, it is important point out that food allergies and other sensitivities are always a risk for some sensitive individuals. Which is why when introducing a new food to the diet I always recommend starting with small portions until you are sure that the new food does not produce a harmful reaction.

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