Basil Oil is derived from the medicinal plant Basil (Ocimum basilicum), commonly known as ‘tulsi’ and considered sacred in India. Fresh basil leaves have a sweet mint-like freshening taste. They exude a pungent and spicy aroma which is invigorating to the spirit. It calms the mind and a sense of balance creeps in. Basil is possibly native to India, having been grown in the country for more than 5000 years. The Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is revered home-grown plant in India and Nepal. The dot-like oil glands in fresh basil leaves produce the essential oil of the herb. Its dried leaves and stems are used in food and beverage flavourings besides the production of essential oil. However, it is believed that the oil derived from flowers is superior in quality than that obtained from the whole plant. The oil is extracted by steam distillation of leaves and flowering tops. The commonly used basil oils in aromatherapy are the sweet basil (European type) and the exotic type. Sweet basil oil is produced in the US, France, Italy, and Spain, while the exotic type is from Seychelles. Apart from being regularly and widely used as a flavouring ingredient. Basil Oil provides a varied range of health benefits.
Health Benefits of Basil Oil
A number of health benefits can be derived from Basil essential oil. Its aromatic factor has multiple therapeutic properties; that of a diaphoretic, febrifuge, antidepressant, antispasmodic, digestive, expectorant, anti-venomous, tonic, etc. Thus it helps in:
Improving skin tone and protection against acne;
Relieving cold, influenza and fever;
Soothing sore or aching muscles and joints;
Treating indigestion, constipation and flatulence;
Proper breathing by treating asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis and infections;
Improving blood circulation;
Improving eye health;
Treating itching from insect bites and bee stings;
Preventing nausea caused by motion sickness;
Relieving stress and depression.
Basil Oil is a good tonic for treatment of nervous disorders and stress-related headaches and migraines. It relieves intellectual fatigue, gives clarity and mental strength. It normalizes menstrual problems, relieves gout by minimizing uric acid in blood and is helpful in arthritis as well. It can be used through direct body application, adding to a warm bath and by inhaling using a diffuser or vaporizer.
Precautions in using Basil Oil
Although Basil Oil usually stimulates, it can have a stupefying effect when used excessively. It should be avoided by pregnant, nursing and breastfeeding women for its emmenagogue properties. It should not be consumed by children under the age of 16. It can cause irritation to a sensitive skin and consultation with a professional aromatherapist or physician is recommended before use by those with any chronic ailment.
Basil Oil also blends well with other oils such as Bergamot, Black Pepper, Cedarwood, Fennel, Ginger, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Marjoram, Neroli, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Juniper and Verbena.