Basil, either in is natural plant form, or as a volatile oil, offers immense health benefits. However, basil primarily is viewed as a culinary herb, enhancing the flavour of Mediterranean dishes to soups, fish and poultry. Yet, in spite of its tough appearance, it is a delicate plant, very susceptible to cold temperatures, either in the garden or in the kitchen. While there are over fifty varieties of wild basil, there are only a handful of garden varieties.

How is Basil Oil Produced?

Basil oil is extracted from the flowers and leaves of basil using stem distillation (see extraction methods on Home page). While the oil content is not high in the plant parts, the use of steam distillation extracts the oil and, since oil and water do not mix well, the resulting volatile oil is pure. Stem distillation can be done at home, ensuring that your oil is unadulterated.

How is Basil Essential Oil Used?

Basil oils are used for cosmetics, to medicinally treat conditions through topical application, in aromatherapy, for hair treatment and as an air freshener. As with almost all essential oils, it should be diluted when applied to the skin and should not be taken internally.

What Are the Toxicities, Contraindications and Cautions Regarding BasilOils?

High doses of basil essential oils may be carcinogenic. Excessive use of the volatile oil may cause bleeding, slowing of blood clotting capability and low blood pressure. Basil oil should not be used with high blood pressure medications. However, use of basil oil properly is not considered to be a toxicity risk.

What Are the Medicinal Applications of Basil Oils?

A few of the ailments for which basil oil is used are colds and coughs, exhaustion, bronchitis, flatulence, influenza, gout, insect bites, muscle aches, rheumatism, and sinusitis. It soothes anxiety and depression. Studies have found that it helps to relive headache when applied topically or in aromatherapy. It has the following properties: Antimicrobial, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, nervine, protective, stomachic, stimulating, and tonic.

What Are the Non-Medicinal Applications of Basil Oils?

Basil has a multitude of non-medicinal uses. It is used to treat acne and as a hair cleanser. It acts as a breath freshener, but also acts as an insect repellent. It is used to treat sore muscles and tightness, inflammation and swelling. In Ayurvedic folklore, it is used to bring clarity and improve compassion, relieve mental fatigue, depression and stress.

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