Sweeet basil, or Ocimum basilicum L, is part of the Lamiaceae or mint plant family, which includes approximately 200 species of basil botanical varieties grown the world over. With a warm, spicy, naturally sweet, herbal aroma, basil essential oil can be used in many different ways both internally and topically.
There are many reported health benefits that go hand-in-hand with using basil essential oil. These include its ability to treat motion sickness, constipation, nausea, respiratory problems and diabetes, among others. The oil is rich in calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium and Vitamin A.
The important medicinal parts of basil are the leaves and seeds.
Basil essential oil is used extensively in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, India, Europe and Central Asia. Basil is use only for culinary purposes in the Mediterranean territories, and is still a large part of many Italian recipes.
Basil is also thought to have many health-promoting properties and is full of essential vitamins, such as K, C and A. It also contains minerals, such as manganese, and iron, magnesium, folate and omega-e fatty acids. According to Orafidiya, et al, ( 2001), basil essential oil is also an effective topical antibiotic.
Currently cultivated throughout the United States and Europe, basil originated in the Pacific Island and tropical Asia. The basil plant is an annual that grows up to 3' tall. Depending on its species, the plant has flowers that range from pink to white. It attracts bees during summer and is often planted for this purpose.
The word, basil, or basilicum, is derrived from the Greek word 'Basilicos', which translates to 'royal' or 'king'. Quite popular in India, basil is held sacred to Vishnu and Krishna . The leaves are sometimes chewed prior to participation in religious ceremonies. Basil is reported to have protective qualities, and is used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
Ancient Egyptians used it as a medicine for scorpion stings and snakebites. Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder, recommended a basil tea as a cure for nervous conditions, fainting spells and headaches. The oil is extracted by steam distillation from the flowering tops and leaves of the basil plant.
What is steam distillation?
Extracting essential oils by steam distillation takes place three different ways:
- Straight steam
- Water distillation
- Steam/water distillation
Extracting essential oils using straight steam entails forcing steam through the plant material, then collecting the oil.
Water distillation is the method used when plant material is submerged into boiling water. The oils and steam are physically captured, then separated. Essential oils are the result.
The steam/water distillation method of essential oil extraction take place when water and steam are pushed through and around the plant material. As the oils and steam are collected, they are separated to produce the essential oil. Arborvitae essential oil is extracted using this method.
Uses for Basil Essential Oil
To use basil essential oil, dilute a single drop with a drop of carrier oil and apply to desired area as needed. The oil can also be diffused for up to half an hour, three times a day.
- As a tonic for nervous disorders
- Stress related headaches
- Relief for intellectual fatigue
- Mental strength
- Abdominal cramps
- Soap making
- Bee stings
- Restless leg syndrome
Blending with Basil
Allergic Reactions and Precautions
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=85Orafidiya LO, Oyedele AO, Shittu AO, Elujoba AA. The formulation of an effective topical antibacterial product containing Ocimum gratissimum leaf essential oil. Int J Pharm 2001 Aug 14;224(1-2):177-83. 2001. PMID:12640
Sweet basil, or Ocimum basilicum L, is part of the Lamiaceae or mint plant family, which includes approximately 200 species of basil botanical varieties grown the world over. With a warm, spicy, naturally sweet, herbal aroma, basil essential oil can be used in many different ways both internally and topically.