Basil is one of the most popular herbs currently in use, and a staple in most herb gardens. However, a lot of people don’t know just how far back its popularity stretches.
The use of basil for its medicinal properties originated in India, where it was considered holy to individuals of the Hindu faith. It appears over and over again in history – in the Middle Ages it was prescribed to treat melancholy, in Jewish folklore it was used to built strength whilst fasting, and Ayurvedic medicine prescribed it to treat skin conditions, indigestion, and coughs. These days basil oil is still used for all three of these things, and new applications are being discovered all the time.
Basil essential oil is antimicrobial.
Basil oil has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, which gives it a range of applications. For example, a study in 2014 found that basil oil can be effective in fighting the e.Coli bacteria, and it has also been proven that basil oil can decrease bacteria and food-borne pathogens when it is included in the water that fresh produce is washed in. Using a diluted amount of basil oil to wash produce at home may help to protect you and your family against bacteria.
It was also shown in 2005 that basil oil’s antiviral properties can help to fight against colds and flu by attacking the viruses responsible. Finally, its antifungal properties can help to remove odours in the home by tackling guilty fungi. All this makes it a fantastic addition to both a medicine cupboard and a home cleaning kit.
It can help to calm swelling.
Basil oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a great choice for massage as it can help soothe sore and swollen muscles. These anti-inflammatory properties also make it a good addition to acne-fighting facial cleansers. Studies in both 2012 and 2017 found that basil oil was effective against calming the inflammatory symptoms of acne, reducing its appearance on the skin, and the 2012 study also noticed that any redness caused by the oil lasted only a matter of minutes before no side effects presented.
It has even been suggested that basil oil can help with ear infections – a 2005 study found that treating the infected ear canals of animals with basil oil was effective over half the time. This research is still rudimentary, but rubbing a diluted amount of basil oil on the skin behind the ear may help to reduce swelling in the ear canal.
It repels insects.
Research has shown that basil can help to prevent bug bites and keep pests out of the home. It is suggested that this is due to the volatile oils in basil that act as natural bug repellents. Spraying a solution of basil oil and water on areas of the home that you want to protect from bugs may help to keep them at bay.
It can aid digestion.
One of the oldest uses of basil is for its carminative properties, which means that it is effective at relieving flatulence. Many people find that using a diluted amount of basil oil on the stomach helps to provide relief from gas and constipation, and reduce pain that comes from gas build up. Try rubbing a diluted amount of basil oil on the lower abdomen to feel these effects.
Even though you may see that the FDA recognises basil oil as safe for consumption, there can still be many risks to this. We would always advise against ingesting any essential oil and recommend applying topically instead, or at least consulting a doctor.
Many centuries after it was first used in traditional medicine, basil can now more typically be found in our kitchens, used as a cooking herb and nothing more. However, there are lots of ways in which basil oil can be used as an effective home remedy, and as the research begins to catch up, it might be time to consider re-adding basil to our medicine cabinets.
Shop our basil essential oil here.