Holy Basil


Also known as- Ocimum basilicum. Not to be confused with holy basil (tulsi), Ocimum sanctum, used in Ayurvedic medicine. 


Fresh basil leaves have a unique aroma not even approximated by any other herb, making them an essential ingredient in cuisines of countries all over the world. There are hundreds of species and their hybrids marketed as basil, but the herb most commonly used in herbal medicine is the Mediterranean or "sweet" basil (although arguably Thai basil is sweeter). Basil produces its essential oils in glands in its leaves that have to be activated by UV-B rays from the sun; the best quality basil is grown in hot, sunny climates. 


Basil has a unique aroma because of the many constituents of its essential oil. The oil contains 1,8-cineol, citral, eugenol, linalool, methyl chavicol, methyl cinnamate in relatively large quantities and bisabolene, camphor, cryophyllene, geraniol, and ocimene in smaller quantities influencing taste and action in the body. 

Parts Used 

Dried leaf in teas or essential oils for topical application. 

Typical Preparations 

The essential oil used topically. As a spice it can liberally used in foods. 


While most of us are familiar with basil as a culinary herb, the applications of basil in natural health are not as well known. The essential oil is antibacterial, and drops of basil oil may relieve ear infections. European scientists are investigating the use of basil oil as treatment for antibiotic resistant infections with Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, and Pseudomonas. There are some indications basil oil may help restore immune function damaged by stress. 
Basil oil also helps the active ingredients of other herbs more readily penetrate the skin when basil oil is added to ointments, liniments, and salves. Dried basil leaf can be added directly to food or drunk as a tea (1/2 teaspoon of dried herb steeped for 10 minutes in 1 cup of boiling water in a closed container) to relieve flatulence and fullness. 


The German Commission E advised caution in the use of basil because of the estragole in its essential oil might cause cancer, but later testing indicated that an increased risk of cancer would only occur in persons who ate approximately 1,00 kilograms (over a ton) of the herb daily"a finding so impossible as to suggest the CommissionÍs precaution was completely unwarranted. Nonetheless, the safety of the herb has not been established for pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children under six.

This herb is sold by the ounce

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