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Ocimum Basilicum


Ocimum Basilicum

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Sweet basil, basil, common basil, basile,daun kemangi (Indonesia), daun selaseh, kemangi, oku, ruku-ruku, ruku-ruku*, selaseh besar, selasi jantan, selasih hijau, sulasi*, sělasi.

Original Habitat

There are many different types of basil used throughout the world. Basil is commonly used in cooking. From the Lamiaceae family, these low- growing plants reach to just under a metre high. They produce white flowers, which are the source of essential oil. This plant grows in India and Vietnam and is thought to originate from Asia or Africa.

Plant Part Used

Flower tops


The essential oil of O. basilicum is used in a variety of foods and beverages as a flavouring. It is also found in chewing gum and some products used in oral hygiene. It may be used as a fragrance in the perfume industry but its use is rarer than other essential oils. In therapeutic aromatherapy it is used as a single oil and in more complex formulations.


The moderately thin oil is obtained by steam distillation of the flowering tops and sometimes whole plant.  Depending upon quality, the color of the oil ranges from yellow to yellow-green to green. It has a slightly sweet but camphorous fragrance.

Chemical Constituents

Phenylpropanes: Methyl chavicol (90%)
Terpenol: Linalool (4%)
Eugenol [1][2][3]

Note: This monograph reports on this essential oil in regard to its potential use in the French school of aromatherapy, as well as reporting any additional science that has been published. The ratings range from +, indicating a lower therapeutic value, to ++++ indicating a higher therapeutic value.

Medicinal Uses

Regulator of the neurovegetative and sympathetic nervous system++
Strong antispasmodic ++++
Strong antiviral +++
Anti-inflammatory (infectious etiology) +++
Analgesic ++

Insecticidal- Basil oil has been effective as a fumigant insecticide.[4]

Antioxidant- The antioxidant activity of O. basilicum essential oil is due to the linalool content of this plant.[5] One laboratory study found that this oil inhibited lipid peroxidation.[6]

Antimicrobial- The linalool content of basil essential oil demonstrated anti-parasitic activityagainst Giardia lamblia, a parasite that can cause intestinal infection.[7]

Antifungal- This essential oil has antifungal activity.[6] The linalool content of basil oil showed antifungal activity, however, this activity was strengthened when mixed with peppermint oil, suggesting a synergistic effect.[8]

Antibacterial– One study found that basil essential oil had positive results against multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas.[9]

Anticonvulsant- An animal study found that the essential oil of O. basilicum had both anticonvulsant and hypnotic effects on mice.[10]

Anti Proliferative- Cell lines of human mouth epidermal carcinoma and murine leukemia were treated with 17 Thai herbal essential oils. O. basilicum illustrated the highest anti-proliferative activity in a specific measure; therefore, researchers concluded that there was potential for essential oils in cancer treatment.[11]

Traditional Use

Aerophagia, gastritis, slow digestion +++
Carsickness +++
Spasmophilia +
Nervousness, anxiety, jitteriness +
Cerebral asthenia +
Polyarthritic rheumatoid +

Contraindications and Precautions

In vitro, basil essential oil showed little skin irritation.[12]



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

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  1) Cultivation

  2) Safety


1.     Fatope MO. Identification of the chemotypes of Ocimum forskolei and Ocimum basilicum by NMR spectroscopy. Chem Biodivers. 2008 Nov;5(11):2457-2463.

2.     Zheljazkov VD. Yield and oil composition of 38 basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) accessions grown in Mississippi. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Jan 9;56(1):241-245.

3.     Gang DR. An investigation of the storage and biosynthesis of phenylpropenes in sweet basil. Plant Physiol. 2001 Feb;125(2):539-555.

4.     Kéita SM. Efficacy of essential oil of Ocimum basilicum L. and O. gratissimum L. applied as an insecticidal fumigant and powder to control Callosobruchus maculatus (Fab.) J Stored Prod Res.2001 Oct;37(4):339-349.

5.     Berić T. Protective effect of basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) against oxidative DNA damage and mutagenesis. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Feb;46(2):724-732.

6.     Bozin B. Characterization of the volatile composition of essential oils of some lamiaceae spices and the antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of the entire oils. J Agric Food Chem. 8 2006 Mar;54(5):1822-1828.

7.     De Almeida I. Antigiardial activity of Ocimum basilicum essential oil. Parasitol Res. 2007 Jul;101(2):443-452.

8.     Edris AE. Antifungal activity of peppermint and sweet basil essential oils and their major aroma constituents on some plant pathogenic fungi from the vapor phase. Nahrung. 2003 Apr;47(2):117-121.

9.     Opalchenova G. Comparative studies on the activity of basil-An essential oil from Ocimum basilicum L.-against multidrug resistant clinical isolates of the genera Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas by using different test methods. J Microbiol Methods. 2003 Jul;54(1):105-110.

10.  Ismail M. Central properties and chemical composition of Ocimum basilicum essential oil. Pharma Biol. 2006;44(8):619-626.

11.  Manosroiab J. Anti-proliferative activity of essential oil extracted from Thai medicinal plants on KB and P388 cell lines. Cancer Lett. 2006 Apr;235(1):114-120.

12. Fang JY. Essential Oils from Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) as Novel Enhancers to Accelerate     Transdermal Drug Delivery. Biol Pharm Bull. 2004;27(11):1819-1825. 

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