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Ocimum basilicum


Ocimum anisatum, Basilicum citratum 

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Ruku, Selasih antan
English: Sweet basil ; Common basil, St. Josephwort, Garden basil
Indonesia:  Solasih (Sunda), Telasih (Jawa). Amping, Kukuru (Minahasa)
Philippines:  Solasi (tagalong); Bonak (Visaya)

(seeds; Rehan) Bisva tulasi, Varavara, Manjariki (Sanskrit) ; Babui, Tulsi, Sabzah (Hindustan) ; Baburi (Punjabi) ; Dhala-tulasi (Uriya) ; Bharbari (Santal) ; Tiru-nitru (Malay.) ; Kukkatulas, Bhu-tulasi, Vebudipatri (Telegu) ;Tirunirupachai, Karandai, Tirnut-patchi (Tamil)


Basilic cultive

German:  Basilien-kraut
Arab:  Shahasfaram
Persian:  Pharanjamuskh, Firanj-mushk [1][2][5][8]

General Information


Ocimum basilicum is a member of the Lamiaceae family. It is an annual herb which can reach up to 80 cm tall. The stem is erect; apex retrose puberulent, base glabrous, tinged red and much branched. The petiole is 1.5 cm long and narrowly winged apically. The leaf baled is ovate to oblong in shape, measuring 2.5-5 x 1-2,5 cm, subglabrous, abaxially glandular with base attenuate, margins irregularly dentate or subentire. The apex is acute. The lateral veins 2-4 paired. The inflorescence is a terminal spike. The bracts are sessile, oblanceolate, measure 5-8 mm, base attenuate, margins ciliate, apex acute. The pedicel measure 3 mm in flower, to 5 mm in fruit. The calyx is campanulate measuring 4 x 3.5 mm, pubescent outside pilose at throat inside; tube is 2 mm; middle tooth of upper lip widest, subcircular, concave, apex mucronate; lateral teeth broadly ovate; apex acute; lower lip teeth lanceolate, apex spinescent, ciliate. Fruiting calyx persistent conspicuously veined. Corolla purplish or with upper lip white, limb puberulent outside; tube throat dilated, upper lip wide 4-lobed; lower lip purple. Stamens free, slightly exserted, posterior 2 dentate, base puberulent. The nutlets dark brown in colour, ovoid, glandular. [36]

Plant Part Used

Herb, seeds, leaves. [2][5]

Chemical Constituents

(e)-beta-farnesene; (e)-beta-ocimene; (z)-beta-farnesene; 1,8-cineole; 1-epi-bicyclosesquiphellandrene; 1-octen-3-ol; 2-epi-alpha-cedrene; 3-octanone; 5,10(15)-cadinen-4-ol; acetic-acid; alanine; alpha-amorphene; alpha-bergamotene; alpha-bisabolol; alpha-bulnesene; alpha-cadinene; alpha-cedrene; alpha-copaene; alpha-cubebene; alpha-farnesene; alpha-fenchene; alpha-guaiene; alpha-humulene; alpha-muurolene; alpha-p-dimethyl-styrene; alpha-pinene; alpha-santalene; alpha-selinene; alpha-terpinene; alpha-terpineol; alpha-terpinyl-acetate; alpha-thujone; anethole; apigenin; arginine; ascorbic-acid; aspartic-acid; benzyl-acetate; benzyl-alcohol; beta-bisabolene; beta-bourbonene; beta-cadinene; beta-cadinol; beta-carotene; beta-caryophyllene; beta-cedrene; beta-cubebene; beta-cymene; beta-elemene; beta-myrcene; beta-ocimene; beta-pinene; beta-santalene; beta-selinene; beta-sitosterol; beta-thujone; borneol; borneol-acetate; boron; butyric-acid; caffeic-acid; caffeic-acid-n-butyl-ester; calamine; calcium; camphene; camphor; caproic-acid; carbohydrates; carvone; caryophyllene; caryophyllene-oxide; chavicol; chavicol-methyl-ether; cinnamic-acid-methyl-ester; cis-3-hexenol; cis-allo-ocimene; cis-anethole; cis-cinnamic-acid-methyl-ester; cis-limonene; cis-ocimene; cis-sabinene-hydrate; citral; citronellol; copper; cyclosativene; cystine; d-arabinose; d-galactose; d-galacturonic-acid; d-glucose; d-mannose; d-mannuronic-acid; delta-cadinene; delta-guaiene; elemol; eriodictyol; eriodictyol-7-o-glucoside; esculetin; esculin; estragole; eugenol; eugenol-methyl-ether; farnesol; fenchone; fenchyl-acetate; fenchyl-alcohol; furfural; gamma-cadinene; gamma-elemene; gamma-gurjunene; gamma-muurolene; gamma-terpinene; geranial; geraniol; geranyl-acetate; germacrene-d; glutamic-acid; glycine; histidine; humulene; humulene-epoxide; hydroxy-benzoic-acid-4-beta-d-glucoside; iron; isocaryophyllene; isoeugenol; isoeugenol-methyl-ether; isoleucine; isoquercitrin; juvocimene-i; juvocimene-ii; kaempferol; kaempferol-3-o-beta-d-rutinoside; l-rhamnose; ledene; leucine; limonene; linalool; linalyl-acetate; linoleic-acid; linolenic-acid; luteolin; lysine; magnesium; manganese; menthol; menthone; methionine; methyl-chavicol; methyl-cinnamate; methyl-eugenol; methyl-thymol; mucilage; myrcene; neral; nerol; nerolidiol; nerolidol; niacin; octanol; oleanolic-acid; oleic-acid; orientin; p-coumaric-acid; p-cymene; p-methoxycinnamaldehyde; palmitic-acid; phellandrene; phenyl-ethyl-alcohol; phosphorus; phytosterols; planteose; potassium; proline; propionic-acid; protein; quercetin; quercetin-3-o-diglucoside; riboflavin; rosmarinic-acid; rutin; sabinene; safrole; salicylic-acid-2-beta-d-glucoside; sambulene; serine; sesquithujene; sodium; stearic-acid; stigmasterol; succinic-acid; syringic-acid-4-beta-d-glucoside; syringoyl-glucose; t-cadinol; tannin; terpinen-4-ol; terpinolene; thiamine; threonine; thymol; trans-allo-ocimene; trans-anethole; trans-cinnamic-acid; trans-cinnamic-acid-methyl-ester; trans-ocimene; trans-sabinene-hydrate; tricyclene; tryptophan; tyrosine; undecylaldehyde; ursolic-acid; valeric-acid; valine; vanillic-acid-4-beta-d-glucoside; vicenin-2; xanthomicrol; xi-bulgarene; xylose and zinc.

Traditional Used:

O. basilicum is considered a diaphoretic, carminative and stimulant. The seeds are mucilaginous, demulcent, aphrodisiac and diuretic. The juice of the plant is anthelmintic while the root is febrifuge. 

Gastrointestinal Diseases

As a carminative and a demulcent, O. basilicum is used to treat flatulence, gastric complaints like dyspepsia and epigastric pains. Its anti-stress properties can help prevent development of peptic ulcers. A hot tea of the leaves can help relieve nausea and vomiting and stomach cramps. The seeds are used to treat diarrhea and dysentery. [2][5][6][7][8] 

Central Nervous System Disorder

The aroma released from crushed leaves can help relieve headaches, overcome lact of confidence, indecisiveness, negative thoughts, stress, rattled nerves, hysteria and mental fatigue while at the same time increase awareness of the surroundings. The anti-stress properties helps prevent hypertension, colitis and asthma. [3][6] 


It is used frequently to treat arthritis both rheumatic or otherwise, snake bites, insect bites and stings. It has antimicrobial properties which is used in treating various skin infection including herpes, shingles, warts and pruritus. It is also used in the treatment of fungal infections like tinea vericolour and tinea circinata. [2][4][5][6] 

Gynaecological diseases

O. basilicum can help stimulate menstruation, eases child birth and increase milk production. [2][3][4]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antihypertensive activity

Umar et al studied the effects of O. basilicum on blood pressure in renovascular hypertensive rats. They found that it could lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 20 and 15 mm Hg respectively; reduce cardiac hypertrophy; and endothelin was reduced to a lower concentration. [9] 

Hepatoprotective activity

Marzouk et [10] worked on the roots, while Meera et al [11]  worked on the leaves to seek to demonstrate the hepatoprotective activity in O. basilicum. Both groups found that their alcoholic extracts have hepatoprotective activity and this is basically due to the antioxidant activities in their respective extracts. Marzouk isolated six triterpene acids i.e betulinic, oleanolic, ursolic, 3-epimaslinic, alphitolic and euscaphic acids, and they all individually showed hepatoprotective activity through their antioxidant activities. 

Hypolipidaemic activity

O. basilicum is used in Morocco to reduce plasma cholesterol and to reduce the risk of atherosclerotic related diseases. Based on this Bravo el al found that the aqueous extract of O. basilicum could progressively reduce the levels of plasma cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol at a much higher rate than fenofibrate. Using ethanol extracts they found that the hypolipidaemic activity could be due to its capability to reduce foam cell formation through the reduction of cholesterol synthesis and the modulation of the activity of surface scavenger receptors. [12][13] 

Antiplatelet aggregation activity

Tohti et al and Amrani et al found that O. basilicum extracts possess an inhibitory effect on platelet aggregation induced by ADP and thrombin. This effect was found to develop progressively over 7 days and disappears over 3 – 7 days. Armani also found that their extract could suppress elevated contractions induced by high cholesterol diet in thoracic aorta of rats. [14][15] 

Chemomodulatory activity

Leaves of O. basilicum was found to be able to augment the Phase II enzyme activity that is associated with detoxification of xenobiotics while inhibiting Phase I enzyme activity. This is evidenced by the fact that the leaf extract could elevate hepatic glutathione S-transferase and DT-diaphorase specific activities above normal levels. 

Antiproliferative activity

Manosroi et al screened 17 Thai medicinal plants for their anti-proliferative activity on human mouth epidermal carcinoma (KB) and murine leukemia (P388) cells lines using MTT assay. [16] Their findings showed that the essential oil of O. basilicum gave the highest anti-proliferative activity with the IC50 value of 0.0362 mg/ml in P388 as compared to the rest. However, in an earlier study Dasgupta et al had shown their leaf extract to be highly effective in inhibiting carcinogen-induced tumour incidence in both the tumour models studied at peri-initiational stage. [17] 

Antioxidant activity

Many workers studied the antioxidant activity of O. basilicum using various extracts (aqueous, ethanol, methanol, ratio of methanol:water:acetic acid [80:20:1] and fractions of extracts. One worker found the presence of rosmarinic acid to be responsible to the potent antioxidant activity of the plants in their methanol extract. This antioxidant activity has been found to render the plant to have antigenotoxic potential. [18][19][20][21] 

Anti-inflammatory activity

The fixed oil and tincture of O. basilicum possess significant anti-inflammatory but with a differing mechanism. The fixed oil execute its anti-inflammatory activity by blocking both cyclo-oxygenase and lipo-oxygenase pathways of arachidonic acid metabolism. On the other hand the tincture effect acute inflammatory activity through reduction of total leukocyte count and monocyte percentage, activation of circulating phagocytes with significant inhibitory effect on nitric oxide (NO) synthesis. Thus the tincture has important anti-inflammatory effects on bone marrow acute phase response and a reduced one on NO synthesis. [22][23]

Antimicrobial activity


In a study of 46 herb species for their inhibitory effects against HIV-1, O. basilicum was found to be amongst herb with significant potency. It was found to inhibit giant cell formation in co-culture of Molt-4 cells with and without HIV-1 infections and also showed inhibitory activity against HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. Chiang LC et al found that extracts and purified components of O. basilicum were active against DNA viruses (Herpes viruses (HSV), adenoviruses (ADV) and Hepatitis B virus) and RNA viruses (Coxsackie B1 (CBV1) and enterovirus 71 (EV71)). The extracts and purified component showing active antiviral activity include the crude aqueous extract and ethanol extract and the following compounds: apigenin, linalool and ursolic acid. [24][25] 


The essential oil of O. basilicum has antibacterial activity. The range of effects covers both Gram positive and Gram negative organisms. Amongst the microorganisms sensitive to the essential oil were the following: Aeromonas hydrophila, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Bacillus cereus, Bacilluc subtilis, Bacillus megaterium, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli, Shigella boydii, Shigella dysenteriae, Vibro parahaemolyticus, Vibrio mimicus and Salmonella typhi. Of the compounds which showed antibacterial activity includes the following: linalool, methylchavikol, methylcinnamat, linolen, methyl chavicol (36.7 and 29.9%), gitoxigenin (9.3 and 10.2%), trimethoquinol (10.3 and 8.4%), beta-guaiene (3.7 and 4.1%), aciphyllene (3.4 and 3.0%), alizarin (3.2 and 4.4%), naphthaline (2.2 and 3.8%), (-)-caryophyllene (2.0 and 1.9%), and mequinol (1.6 and 1.8%). [26][27][28][29][30][31][32] 


The essential oil of O. basilicum is a broadspectrum antimicrobial agent. de Almeida et al found that it could inhibit Giaridia lamblia and especially linalool was able to kill 100% of the parasite after 1 hour of incubation. [33] 

Antiulcerogenic activity

The anti-ulcerogenic activity of O. basilicum was proven when it was found that the extracts of the plant could decrease productions of acid and pepsin which enhances gastric mucosal strength. The essential oil on the other hand was found to effect anti-ulcer activity through its lipoxygenase inhibiting, histamine antagonistic and antisecretory activity. [34][35]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation.

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation.

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation.

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation.


No documentation.

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation.


Interactions with drugs

O. basilicum has been shown to possess antiplatelet aggregation activity. It’s use together with anticoagulant therapy should be avoided. [14][15]

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation.



No documentation.

Case Reports

No documentation.

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  1) Cultivation

  2) Essential Oil


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  2. H. Panda, Herbs cultivation and medicinal uses, National Institute of Industrial Research, India, 2000. pg398.
  3. H. Panda, The Complete Technology Book on Herbal Perfumes & Cosmetics, National Institute of Industrial Research, India, 2003. pg107.
  4. James A. Duke, The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Comprehensive Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing, Rodale, New York, 2000. pg33-34.
  5. Jethro Kloss, Back to Eden: a human interest story of health and restoration to be found in herb, root and bark, Lotus Press, USA, 1999. pg90.
  6. Gopi K. Podila, Ajit Varma, Basic Research and Applications of Mycorrhizae, I.K. International Pvt. Ltd., India, 2005. pg366-367.
  7. A.V.S.S. Sambamurty, Taxonomy of Angiosperms, I.K. International Pvt. Ltd., India, 2005. pg494.
  8. Prof H. Hembing W., Ramuan Lengkap Herbal Taklukkan Penyakit, Pustaka Bunda, Indonesia, 2008. pg293.
  9. Umar A, Imam G, Yimin W, Kerim P, Tohti I, Berké B, Moore N. Antihypertensive effects of Ocimum basilicum L. (OBL) on blood pressure in renovascular hypertensive rats. Hypertens Res. 2010 Jul;33(7):727-30. Epub 2010 May 7.
  10. Marzouk AM. Hepatoprotective triterpenes from hairy root cultures of Ocimum basilicum L. Z Naturforsch C. 2009 Mar-Apr;64(3-4):201-9.
  11. Meera R, Devi P, Kameswari B, Madhumitha B, Merlin NJ. Antioxidant and hepatoprotective activities of Ocimum basilicum Linn. And Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn. against H2O2 and CCL4 induced hepatotoxicity in goat liver. Indian J Exp Biol. 2009 Jul;47(7):584-90.
  12. Amrani S, Harnafi H, Bouanani Nel H, Aziz M, Caid HS, Manfredini S, Besco E, Napolitano M, Bravo E. Hypolipidaemic activity of aqueous Ocimum basilicum extract in acute hyperlipidaemia induced by triton WR-1339 in rats and its antioxidant property. Phytother Res. 2006 Dec;20(12):1040-5.
  13. Bravo E, Amrani S, Aziz M, Harnafi H, Napolitano M. Ocimum basilicum ethanolic extract decreases cholesterol synthesis and lipid accumulation in human macrophages. Fitoterapia. 2008 Dec;79(7-8):515-23. Epub 2008 Jun 22.
  14. Tohti I, Tursun M, Umar A, Turdi S, Imin H, Moore N. Aqueous extracts of Ocimum basilicum L. (sweet basil) decrease platelet aggregation induced by ADP and thrombin in vitro and rats arterio--venous shunt thrombosis in vivo. Thromb Res. 2006;118(6):733-9. Epub 2006 Feb 15.
  15. Amrani S, Harnafi H, Gadi D, Mekhfi H, Legssyer A, Aziz M, Martin-Nizard F, Bosca L. Vasorelaxant and anti-platelet aggregation effects of aqueous Ocimum basilicum extract. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Aug 17;125(1):157-62. Epub 2009 Jun 6.
  16. Dasgupta T, Rao AR, Yadava PK. Chemomodulatory efficacy of basil leaf (Ocimum basilicum) on drug metabolizing and antioxidant enzymes, and on carcinogen-induced skin and forestomach papillomagenesis. Phytomedicine. 2004 Feb;11(2-3):139-51.
  17. Manosroi J, Dhumtanom P, Manosroi A. Anti-proliferative activity of essential oil extracted from Thai medicinal plants on KB and P388 cell lines. Cancer Lett. 2006 Apr 8;235(1):114-20. Epub 2005 Jun 23.
  18. Gülçin I, Elmastaş M, Aboul-Enein HY. Determination of antioxidant and radical scavenging activity of Basil (Ocimum basilicum L. Family Lamiaceae) assayed by different methodologies. Phytother Res. 2007 Apr;21(4):354-61.
  19. Jayasinghe C, Gotoh N, Aoki T, Wada S. Phenolics composition and antioxidant activity of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.). J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Jul 16;51(15):4442-9.
  20. Berić T, Nikolić B, Stanojević J, Vuković-Gacić B, Knezević-Vukcević J. Protective effect of basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) against oxidative DNA damage and mutagenesis. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Feb;46(2):724-32. Epub 2007 Nov 5.
  21. Dorman HJ, Hiltunen R. Ocimum basilicum L.: phenolic profile and antioxidant-related activity. Nat Prod Commun. 2010 Jan;5(1):65-72.
  22. Singh S. Mechanism of action of antiinflammatory effect of fixed oil of Ocimum basilicum Linn. Indian J Exp Biol. 1999 Mar;37(3):248-52.
  23. Benedec D, Pârvu AE, Oniga I, Toiu A, Tiperciuc B. Effects of Ocimum basilicum L. extract on experimental acute inflammation. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2007 Oct-Dec;111(4):1065-9.
  24. Yamasaki K, Nakano M, Kawahata T, Mori H, Otake T, Ueba N, Oishi I, Inami R, Yamane M, Nakamura M, Murata H, Nakanishi T. Anti-HIV-1 activity of herbs in Labiatae. Biol Pharm Bull. 1998 Aug;21(8):829-33.
  25. Chiang LC, Ng LT, Cheng PW, Chiang W, Lin CC. Antiviral activities of extracts and selected pure constituents of Ocimum basilicum. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2005 Oct;32(10):811-6.
  26. Wan J, Wilcock A, Coventry MJ. The effect of essential oils of basil on the growth of Aeromonas hydrophila and Pseudomonas fluorescens. J Appl Microbiol. 1998 Feb;84(2):152-8.
  27. Koga T, Hirota N, Takumi K. Bactericidal activities of essential oils of basil and sage against a range of bacteria and the effect of these essential oils on Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Microbiol Res. 1999 Dec;154(3):267-73.
  28. Opalchenova G, Obreshkova D. 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):105-10.
  29. Suppakul P, Miltz J, Sonneveld K, Bigger SW. Antimicrobial properties of basil and its possible application in food packaging. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 May 21;51(11):3197-207.
  30. Kristinsson KG, Magnusdottir AB, Petersen H, Hermansson A. Effective treatment of experimental acute otitis media by application of volatile fluids into the ear canal. J Infect Dis. 2005 Jun 1;191(11):1876-80. Epub 2005 Apr 29.
  31. Ahonkhai I, Ba A, Edogun O, Mu U. Antimicrobial activities of the volatile oils of Ocimum bacilicum L. and Ocimum gratissimum L. (Lamiaceae) against some aerobic dental isolates. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2009 Oct;22(4):405-9.
  32. Hossain MA, Kabir MJ, Salehuddin SM, Rahman SM, Das AK, Singha SK, Alam MK, Rahman A. Antibacterial properties of essential oils and methanol extracts of sweet basil Ocimum basilicum occurring in Bangladesh. Pharm Biol. 2010 May;48(5):504-11.
  33. de Almeida I, Alviano DS, Vieira DP, Alves PB, Blank AF, Lopes AH, Alviano CS, Rosa Mdo S. Antigiardial activity of Ocimum basilicum essential oil. Parasitol Res. 2007 Jul;101(2):443-52. Epub 2007 Mar 7.
  34. Akhtar MS, Munir M. Evaluation of the gastric antiulcerogenic effects of Solanum nigrum, Brassica oleracea and Ocimum basilicum in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1989 Nov;27(1-2):163-76.
  35. Singh S. Evaluation of gastric anti-ulcer activity of fixed oil of Ocimum basilicum Linn. and its possible mechanism of action. Indian J Exp Biol. 1999 Mar;37(3):253-7.
  36. Flora of China. [Accessed on 13th January 2011]

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