Balanoi: Common Basil in the Philippines

Basil is a popular herb worldwide. There are various versions of it in the west and east. In deep Asia, one example is sweet basil or the common basil in the Philippines. Locally, it's known as "Balanoi." In plant science they call it Lamiaceae.

Go around the country and you find common basil, well, common.

How effective is Balanoi? Common folks say it is effective for simple health problems. And they marvel at how simple it is prepared. Common basil in the Philippines is used in the following manner:

Herbal Energy Stimulant. Use some 20 balanoi leaves soaked in 200 grams of water. Drink about 4 cups of it daily.

Common Cold. Use about 40 grams of common basil leaves in 200 grams water. Gargle this mixture to get rid of upper respiratory problems like post nasal drip or sore throat. Do it after each meal.

Breathing Difficulty. If you feel like gasping for air, try drinking the brew of boiled balanoi leaves as first aid before seeing a doctor. Just use 12 pieces of the leaves with about 1 and 1/2 liters water. Drink 2 times a day.

Menstruation. For some relief, use some 100 grams leaves with about a liter of water. Drink 4 cups a few days before your anticipated period.
As an Antibacterial. Use 10 grams leaves with 100-gram water content and boil. Drink a glass daily on an empty stomach.


Headache, Sprains, Rheumatism, and Other Similar Aches. Crush some balanoi, ruta, and rosemary leaves until they're mixed together, then apply topically on the affected area. Do this for 8 days, or until the pain is gone.

Reminds me so much of one of my favorite tropical fruits, native guava. A guava leaf gives similar benefits, except perhaps the menstruation relief.

Sweet Basil is also used in a lot of dish menus and is a healthy source of edible herb. I guess this is another aspect where guava leaves and basil differ in usage. I have yet to try mixing young, fresh guava leaf sprouts in my veggie dishes. Want to be the first to try?

So remember, for common illnesses that bother your relaxation, try common basil in the Philippines.


  1. Hi! Do you know anything about the "LIBAS" tree/leaves? Any special properties in this tree? My mom uses it to make sinigang.

    1. I guess li as is indemic in areas of southern Luzon (bicol). Can't find any filipino term for this

  2. I tried to research on Libas, to no avail. I figure that, like lemon grass, Libas is probably also rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C. It's just a hunch, though.

  3. Any fruit or veggie that's natural and soury in taste is likely to contain Vitamin C, and therefore an antioxidant. It's a worthy guess ;)