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Basil essential oil is at once invigorating, energizing, refreshing and calming to the mind and spirit, but it is also well known as an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. As one of the world’s most versatile and beloved culinary herbs, its fresh, lifted herbal aroma is instantly recognizable and can easily dominate an essential oil blend. Steam distilled from the leaves and flowers of ocimum basilicum, it presents as a clear, pale yellow to pale green liquid with a warm, spicy, herbaceous top fragrance note. Its main chemical constituents are linalool, methyl chavicol, cis-ocimene, camphory-terpineol, a-pinene, b-pinene, myrcene, limonene, camphene, geraniol, methyl cinnamate, citronellol, and eugenol, but the concentrations of these elements vary greatly according to the source. Basil essential oil from India and Russia (O. Americanum (Linn) and O. canum (Sims)) tend to have a higher camphor component. O. canum (Sims) linalool-type, from Kenya, is higher in linalool. O. gratissimum (Linn), from Sudan and India, contains higher levels of phenol. The plant itself is a tender annual and is cultivated the world over. Though its origins in medicinal use are based in Asia and the tropical Pacific Islands, it is now cultivated and produced widely throughout the world.
Basil essential oil in history
Basil essential oil has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years and is said to be held sacred by the Indian deities Krishna and Vishnu, purportedly for its protective qualities. It was originally indicated to treat stomach and digestive disorders as well as respiratory ailments and cough, but it is also known for its ability to focus the mind, as well as provide a sedative effect. It is considered by practitioners of Chinese medicine to be particularly helpful in treating epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Pliny the Younger, in his Natural History books (1st century AD), suggested it as a cure for jaundice and epilepsy, and as a diuretic. In most parts of Europe, the basil plant is regarded as a symbol of fertility, but elsewhere (Crete most notably), it represents evil or even death. The Greeks believed that curses must be uttered when it was being planted or the plant would not flourish, while the Romans considered it to be an aphrodisiac – likely the reason it made its way into so many quintessential Roman dishes. In Chinese medicine, it was used as an anti-venom for snakebite. In the middle ages, it was indicated for depression and to lift the mood. Though native to Asia, it found its way to the Mediterranean around the 16th century, and is now produced in India, the Seychelles, Reunion, Comoro Islands, Italy, France and the United States.
Basil oil uses
Antibacterial/antifungal: kills a wide range of bacteria, molds, and yeasts, both on surfaces and in foods you eat.
Upper respiratory complaints: protects from colds and flu, and helps the body to recover more quickly from these complaints. It is also helpful in preventing asthma attacks and relieving sinus discomfort, bronchitis, and severe coughs.
Culinary: a tasty herb used in many Italian dishes and condiments such as pesto.
Muscle relaxant/sedative: calms the muscles and the mind, helping you to relax and prevent anxiety attacks, insomnia and agitation; helps improve the quality of sleep.
Anti-stress: eases the mind, lessens feelings of stress-related anxiety and balances the emotions.
Depression: lifts the mood, chases away sadness and fear, and is an effective aid in treating grief.
Boosts libido: known since Roman times for its aphrodisiac effects, is indicated as a cure for impotence and low libido.
Oral health: in a mouthwash or toothpaste, it helps to protect your gums from infection, disease, and gingivitis.
Energy boost, mental clarity: improves mental function, and clarifies and focuses the thoughts, which is particularly helpful if you are studying for an exam or preparing for a presentation.
Urinary tract infections: detoxifies the urinary tract, prevents the uptake of a UTI or bladder infection, and helps you heal faster from the one you already have.
Digestive tract complaints: eases the discomfort of diarrhea, nausea, constipation, and gas.
Headaches: known to relieve headaches and even migraines.
Anti-inflammatory: soothes irritated skin and relieves pain caused by arthritic conditions, rheumatism, and sore or fatigued muscles.
Skin care/cosmetic: used as a facial tonic, it stimulates blood circulation to the surface of the skin, cools the skin, brightens complexion and skin tone, and helps to control acne breakouts. On the rest of the body, it reduces the appearance of cellulite. Added to shampoos, conditioners or other hair treatments, it removes excess oil while adding shine and luster to the hair.
Insect repellant: keeps biting insects away, and soothes the irritation from bites you may already have
Basil essential oil should be avoided if you are pregnant or nursing, as it may cause fluctuations in hormonal levels as well as have an effect on muscle and nerve function. While basil essential oil is generally considered non-irritating, avoid using undiluted unless you are under the direct care of a qualified natural medical practitioner. There is also a potential for allergic reaction to methyl chavicol in some individuals. Keep in mind that methyl chavicol is considered to be a carcinogen in high doses. Look for basil essential oil that is higher in linalool and lower in methyl chavicol. Heed all recommended dilution ratios, and test on a small, non-sensitive area of your skin before applying liberally. Avoid contact with mucous membranes and open wounds.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.