Essential oils were used traditionally for medicinal purpose. This ancient tradition has been brought to modern times, offering cosmetic, dietary and even spiritual use. Often extracted through steam distillation, cold pressing and resin tapping, pure essential oils are powerful. One of these is Basil Essential Oil that was commonly used in ancient times in India and other countries for Ayurvedic medicine.
The seeds and leaves of the basil plant are used for medicinal and culinary purposes in various parts of the world. The oil is popular not just in India but also in Southeast and Central Asia and in Europe. The oil and leaves are widely used for culinary purpose and still an active ingredient in many Italian recipes such as pesto. Before, it was used to treat cough, diarrhea and some skin diseases, to name a few.
Many people think of basil as an important herb in flavoring numerous Italian dishes. However, Basil Essential Oil is a more potent form since it is concentrated. It is called the “Queen of Herbs” for it is incomparable, considering its numerous health and beauty benefits. The powerful oil has sharp, fresh, minty odor that has warming effects. The greenish-yellow oil is extracted from Ocimum basilicum and has watery viscosity.
Basil originated from tropical Asia and the Pacific Islands but it is now cultivated in the USA and Europe. It is an annual herb that can grow to up 3 feet. The essential oil is extracted through steam distillation. It is composed of at least 25 chemical compounds including 45% estragole or methylchavicol 20% geranial, 15% neral and 20% nerol, geraniol and caryophyllene. It was prove to reduce inflammation and swelling. In fact, in a 2014 study, it was revealed that Basil Essential Oil was very effective even at low concentrations.
Basil Essential Oil Benefits
The following are the benefits of Basil Essential Oil:
- Helps improves dull skin and hair
- Can treat cough and other respiratory problems
- Has carminative properties that aids in digestion and treat digestive problems
- Has calming effects that ease stress and tension
- Relieves pain
- Fights infections
- Protects the eye because of its ophthalmic properties
- Prevents nausea and vomiting
- Soothes itching
- Can fight fungi
Basil Essential Oil Uses
- Basil Essential Oil as Hair Treatment. Basil Essential Oil can be used topically. It can improve dull skin and hair when massaged. This is why it is used in skin care supplements that promise to improve your skin tone. It also helps treat acne and skin infections.
- Basil Essential Oil as Treatment for Respiratory Problems. In ancient times, this oil is commonly used to treat cough. Today, it is also used to relieve bronchitis, asthma, sinus problem, colds and influenza due to its antispasmodic property.
- Basil Essential Oil as Aid in Digestion. This oil can act as digestive tonic. Since it has carminative properties, basil oil can cure constipation, indigestion, flatulence and stomach cramps. It also provides fast relief from gas in the stomach and helps eliminate bowel pain.
- Basil Essential Oil as Stress Reliever. When smelled or ingested, this essential oil has calming effects that can relieve mental fatigue, tension, migraines, melancholy and even depression.
- Basil Essential Oil as Pain Reliever. This oil is also considered an analgesic as it relieves pain. This is the reason why it is used to treat headaches, arthritis, sprains, sports injuries and surgical wounds.
- Basil Essential Oil as Anti-inflammatory. Basil Essential Oil can treat various infections in the skin and bladder for it has antibacterial properties. It can reduce swelling, redness and inflammation, which was proven by a 2014 study that it can reduce inflammation even at low concentrations. It was also shown to fight certain virus and bacteria.
- Basil Essential Oil as Ophthalmic Treatment. The oil has ophthalmic properties that help treat bloodshot eyes.
- Basil Essential Oil as Remedy for Nausea. : It can prevent vomiting caused by motion sickness and other reasons.
- Basil Essential Oil as Relief for Itching. It is also good in soothing itchiness from insect stings and bites or even snakes. In a study, it was also proven to be helpful in anti-malarial products and insecticides.
- Basil Essential Oil as Anti-Fungal. This oil was proven to kill a certain type of fungus, which is Aspergillus niger, or the one that can cause black mold in plants and Candida albicans, which causes nail fungus and yeast infections.
Basil Oil Side Effects
- Low blood sugar. In some people, Basil Essential Oil can cause low blood sugar when taken internally.
- Liver cancer risk. The above-ground parts of basil oil can be unsafe when taken long-term internally for they contain estragole, a chemical that could increase risk for liver cancer.
- Bleeding disorders. Basil oils and extracts may slow down blood clot and worsen bleeding. It is best not to use basil a week or two before surgery.
- Low blood pressure. Extracts may lower blood pressure, making them not advisable for people with low blood pressure.
How to Use Basil Essential Oil
There are different ways to use Basil Essential Oil and reap its benefits. Here are they:
- Aromatherapy. Using a vaporizer or oil diffuser, the oil can be diffused as aromatherapy. You can inhale it or combine it with other spicy herbs such as sage or rosemary. You can also drop a few amount of oil to your palm, rub it, and place your hands near your face to inhale.When blending with other oils, use 1 drop basil and 2 drops of the oil.
- Topical. The oil can be applied to the skin by first diluting it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, jojoba oil or avocado oil. Start slowly for it is very potent. If you have sensitive skin, try a few drops first and test if there would be any reaction. You can massage the oil into your skin and feel relieved from any discomfort. Safe dilution for adults is up to 3 drops to 5ml base oil but 1 drop in 5ml base oil can be enough.
- Internal. Pure Basil Essential Oil has been approved by the FDA for consumption. Just be sure to take therapeutic grade, 100% high quality brand. To be sure, get it from a reputable distributor. To take, drop a few amount to water or mix it in your drink as a dietary supplement.
How to Make Basil Essential Oil
The process used to make Basil Essential Oil is steam distillation for it is more time-saving and it produces good quality oil. Basil is first harvested, then the whole plant or flower is exposed to steam. Heat causes the oil to evaporate. Cooling of the vapors leads to condensation of both oil and water vapor. Since water and oil do not mix, they separate at that step. Steam distillation takes about an hour to complete.
Basil Essential Oil Recipe
Here’s how to make your own Basil Essential Oil:
- Place a handful of basil leaves into a clean jar and crush them to release flavour.
- Pour 400 ml mild vegetable oil to the jar, making sure all leaves are covered.
- Put a tight fitting lid and let stand in a warm area for a week.
- Strain the herb using cotton cloth or linen handkerchief then repeat infusion process with a fresh handful of basil leaves but use the same oil.
- Do this as many times as possible until you get a jar of strongly flavoured basil oil.
- Store in a sterilized bottle and label.
Where to Buy Basil Essential Oil
It’s easy to find Basil Essential Oil at your local health shop. For your convenience, you can purchase it online. Recommendable brands include Young Living and doTerra.
More Information on Basil Essential Oil
- Basil Essential Oil should not be used by pregnant and breastfeeding moms and children under 16 years old for it may affect nerve or muscle functioning.
- Avoid direct contact with inner ear, eye and other sensitive areas.
- Patch test should be done before applying it on the skin to check sensitivity or allergy.
- Excessive use can have stupefying effect.
- It is not recommended for persons with epilepsy.
- It should always be diluted with base oil before applying to the skin.
- Before taking it internally, consult your doctor first.