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Basil Essential Oil

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

The following profile provides further insight into Basil Essential Oil, Ocimum Basiicum

General Information

Common Name: Basil (English)

Scientific Name: Ocimum Basilicum L

Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)

Origin: Tropical Old World: Central Africa and Southeast Asia

Synonyms: Basil of Estrogole Type

Essential Oil Properties and Characteristics

Basil Essential Oil has a sweet, warm, freshly floral and crisply herbaceous scent that is further characterized as vibrant, airy, uplifting, and reminiscent of the scent of licorice.

Characteristically, Basil Essential Oil contains high concentrations of linalool and methyl chavicol (estragole), at a ratio of 2 or 3:1. Other constituents found in low concentrations include: 1,8-cineole, eugenol, alpha-terpeniol, beta-caryophyllene, geraniol, sabinene, alpha-phellandrene, gamma-terpinene, thujone, myrcene, limonene, ocimene, and para-cymene.

The Egyptian basil oil is similar but with a much higher concentration and ratio of methyl chavicol relative to linalool. Other distinct types of basil oil traded on the international market and which differ in aroma include the Comoro (also called Reunion or African basil oil), originally distilled only on Reunion Isle but now grown and distilled throughout many parts of Africa, Madagascar, and the Seychelles Islands which has a licorice and or camphoraceous fragrance.

The main constituent of this basil oil is methyl chavicol, with camphor sometimes present, but little if any linalool, alpha-pinene, eugenol, or 1,8-cineole. A Bulgarian or cinnamon basil oil, rich in methyl cinnamate is also traded as a natural source of methyl cinnamate.

Basil Herb Leaves

Origin and History

The Basil plant receives its name from the Latin word basilius as well as the Greek word basilikón phutón, which mean “royal plant,”. Basil is also known as the Queen of Herbs or l'herbe royale, meaning “royal herb" in French

There are two main types of basil. The European and Egyptian basil oils, dominate the world market for basil oil. The European sweet basil, cultivated and distilled in Europe, the Mediterranean region, and the United States is considered to be of the highest quality, producing the finest odour.

Method of Extraction

Basil oil is extracted by steam distillation of the flowering tops or entire herb of Ocimum Basilicum.

Chemical composition

The main chemical components of Basil oil are: Methyl Chavicol (estrogole), Methyl Eugenol (eugenyl methyl ether), 1-8-Cineole (eucalyptol), Limonene, Linalool.

Precautions During Use (Contraindications)

Basil Sweet Essential Oil is for external use only and must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. It is recommended that prior to using Basil Sweet Essential Oil that you do a skin test first. This is achieved by diluting 1 drop of Basil Essential Oil with 4 drops of a Carrier Oil such as fractionated coconut or olive oil. Apply a 5p size amount the the inside of the elbow - wait 24 hours to ensure no reaction.

As with any essential oil, if you are embarking on using essential oils for therapeutic purposes, consult a professional Aromatherapist or medical practitioner. Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use Basil Sweet Essential Oil without the medical advice of a medical practitioner, as it may have an effect on certain hormone secretions and it is unclear whether these effects are transferable to babies at these stages of development.

Always keep essential oils away from children and never remove the dropper insert.

Potential side effects of Basil Sweet Essential Oil include redness, rash, hives, burning, bleeding disorders, low blood pressure, decreased speed of healing, dizziness, headache, nausea, convulsions, diarrhea, and rapid heartbeat.

Essential Oils are often referred to as a 'complimentary therapy', meaning it is used in parallel to other treatments to improve health and wellbeing, rather than as a replacement for medicinal treatments or prescriptions - this is particularly important if you are under medical care to manage moods, behaviors, or disorders.

basil essential oil, ocimum basilica oil, basil herb oil
Basil Essential Oil in Amber Bottles

Therapeutic properties

Basil essential oil is a nourishing and protective, and reparative oil. In aromatherapy, Sweet Basil Essential Oil is reputed to stimulate, clarify, calm, fortify, energize and uplift the mind. It is also said to repel insects, eliminate odor-causing bacteria, soothe headaches, and relieve respiratory as well as digestive discomforts

When used in skincare or haircare preparations Basil Sweet Essential Oil has the following therapeutic benefits:

  • Skincare: Sweet Basil Essential Oil is reputed to nourish, repair, balance, calm, smoothe, exfoliate, and brighten the complexion.

  • Haircare: Sweet Basil Essential Oil cleanses, refreshes, hydrates, softens, and strengthens the strands.

  • Medicinal: Sweet Basil Essential Oil has Antimicrobial, Antispasmodic, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Analgesic, Carminative, Diaphoretic, Digestive, Emmenagogue, Expectorant, Febrifuge, Nervine, Protective, Stomachic, Stimulating, Tonic Properties.

As illustrated, Sweet Basil Essential Oil is reputed to have many therapeutic properties. The following highlights its many benefits and the kinds of activity it is believed to show:

Basil Sweet Essential Oil blends well with the essential oils of Bergamot, Black Pepper, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Lime, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Ginger, Geranium, Grapefruit, Juniper, Lavender, Lemon, Marjoram, Neroli, and Rosemary.