Basil Oil

Basil Oil (Ocimum Basilicum)  

 By Hwaa Irfan

Known in English as Common Basil, Sweet Basil, and St. Joseph’s Wort, basil belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae).  The French call it basilic, In German it is basilienkraut, in India, tulsi, and in Spanish it is called albahaca. With a preference for hot, dry conditions, basil bush (Ocymum Minumum), grows as a low bushy plant. The leaves, which we eat as a herb are slightly oval in shape, bearing small white flowers/black-purple leaves in July and August. The common/sweet basil can grow to a height of 3 feet, with grey-green leaves like that of sage. Both basils flourish best in rich soil, but when being cultivated as a herb (dried) the leaves are cut before the plant flowers. When it is being cultivated for its oil (aromatherapy), basil is cut after it blooms. Cultivating Basil for commercial production is done mainly in Egypt, Cyprus, Italy, Comoro Islands, Seychelles and Europe.

Through a process of steam distillation, good quality Basil essential oil produced from the leaves and the flowers from the flowering plant. It is yellow in color. The odor is warm and crispy/herbaceous with a hint of anise/mint/cinnamon depending on the variety extracted from.

Like most essential oils, adulterated Basil essential oil can be found on the market making the price cheaper. It is usually added with synthetic linalool and methyl chavicol which have a negative impact on any therapeutic benefit.

 Medicinal Qualities

  • A-pinene
  • Camphene
  • B-pinene
  • Myrcene
  • Limonene
  • Cis-ocimene
  • Sabinene (found prominent in the Togo species)
  • Camphor
  • Linalool (found prominent in European species)
  • Methyl chavicol (found prominent in European, Egyptian, Reunion and Comoro Island species)
  • Estragole (found prominent in the Togo species)
  • Y-terpineol
  • Citronella
  • Geraniol
  • Methyl cinnamate (found prominent in Javan and Bulgarian species)
  • Eugenol. (found prominent in Javan and Bulgarian species)
  • Methyleugenol (found prominent in the Togo species)
  • Coumarins
  • Flavonoid glycosides
  • Vitamin A
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Calcium.

Therapeutic Qualities

  • Carminative
  • Spasmolytic
  • Analgesic
  • Anti bacterial
  • Opthalmic
  • Antidepressant
  • Anti-venomous
  • Cephalic
  • Diaphoretic
  • Digestive
  • Emmenagogue
  • Expectorant
  • Febrifuge
  • Insecticide
  • Nervine
  • Stomachic
  • Sudorific
  • Tonic and stimulant.

 The crisp smell of basil essential oil awakens the mind. It also calms the nerves and stress-related headaches, yet at the same time acts as a tonic for the nerves. It acts as a tonic in cases of mental or intellectual fatigue, yet strengthens mental clarity. Uplifts the mood in cases of depression. 

It is a tonic to the digestive system, and as a carminative and stomachic eases stomach cramps, flatulence, and colic. 

Eases sinus congestion, and motion sickness, and as a spasmolytic, eases whooping cough.

Reduces temperatures, and as an analgesic provides relief from pain.

As an emmenagogue the oil relieves scanty periods, and normalizes the menses.

Improves blood circulation, increases the metabolism, and provides relief from bloodshot eyes.

It reduces the presence of uric acid in the blood, which leads to gout.

Controls acne and skin infections, and minimizes infections from cuts. As an antibacterial, it minimizes not only infections from cuts and wounds, but is also good for viral infections.  

 Enhances the lustre of dull looking skin, as well as hair.

In a Brazilian study the linalool content of Basil oil was found to be 100% effective in its antimicrobial activity against the parasite Giardia lamblia after 1 hour of incubation, as a tonic for the heart and the adrenal glands in an Indian study by Muralidharan and team. In a Sudanese study by A, Nour et al, the chemical geraniol present in wild Sudanese Basil essential oil was the active ingredient in the antibacterial activity against E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella typhimurium – common causes of food poisoning the U.S. Methyleugenol present in a species of Basil from Togo, was found to be an active antimicrobial against fungi Aspergillus fumigates, Candida albicans, and Scopulariopsis brevicaulis in a W. African study by Koffi Koba et al.


  • Indigestion
  • Motions sickness
  • Mental fatigue/stress-related headaches and migraines
  • Depression
  • Scanty periods
  • Flatulence
  • Infections
  • Intestinal infections
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Nursing 


The methyl chavicol present in the oil is slightly toxic and can irritate sensitive skin. Taken in large amounts can over-stimulates the nervous system. It should be avoided in pregnancy because of its emenagogue properties.


In vapor therapy which can be in the form of a portable burner or a hot bath, basil oil eases migraines, headaches, depression, improves concentration, skin infections, and respiratory problems. 

Three drops in the bath before filling the bath with warm water, relieves gout, arthritis, muscular and menstrual pain, indigestion, scanty periods, depression, poor blood circulation.


Burfield, T. “The Adulteration of Essential Oils – and the Consequences to Armatherapy and Natural Perfumery Practice”.

De Alemeida. I et al. “Antigiardial Activity of Ocimum Basilicum Essential Oil”.

Lavabre, M. “Aromatherapy Workbook”. Healing Arts Press, Canada. 1990.

Koba, K. et al “Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Properties of Different

Basil Essential Oils Chemotypes from Togo”  Bangladesh J Pharmacol 2009; 4: 1-8

Muralidharan, I et al. “Cardiac Stimulant Activity of Ocimum basilicum”.;year=2004;volume=36;issue=3;spage=163;epage=166;aulast=Muralidharan

Nour, A.H et al. Antibacterial Activity of the Essential Oils of Sudanese Accessions of Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.)

Simon, J.E. et al. “Basil: A Source of Essential Oils”.


It Makes Good Scents!

Amber Oil

Angelica Root Oil

Anise Oil


2 thoughts on “Basil Oil

  1. I’m so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.

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